Former Granada Cinema, 58 St Johns Hill

Off-site manufacture of housing is not without its opponents, particularly in the traditional masonry sector who lobby hard for a site based approach which is low in capitalisation and highly responsive to the changes in economic circumstances. Prefabrication, they argue, is given unfair prominence through government support and is not the answer to the typical homeowner’s desired property. More precisely they argue that prefabricated homes are lightweight and therefore lack solidity and thermal mass and are unproven in their durability.

Transformation House: Former Granada Cinema, 58 St Johns Hill

The Grade II Star Listed Conference Centre formally the Granada Cinema has been sympathetically refurbished to portray the splendour and stunning architectural features of the original building.

Site history: Former Granada Cinema
Architect: Assael
Site area: 0.25
Gross internal area: 8,830
Number of dwellings: 59
Density: 236
Plot ratio: 1:3.5
Construction value: 15,000,000

Many attempts were made to revive this Grade II* listed building, which was on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk register. It has been vacant since 1997. All previous proposals included intrusive modifications to the magnificent listed interior.

This final proposal by Assael was based on the premise that it should allow for new construction without affecting the internal spaces. The solution was to suspend lightweight prefabricated modular residential units from full arches over the auditorium. In so doing, the auditorium would remain untouched by intrusive columns required by other more traditional construction methods. The listed ceiling would also be retained. Materials used would be glass, timber and steel. In addition, the design would ensure a total physical and acoustic separation of the uses. Within the development all residential units would have access to a terrace or balcony. Winter gardens, sun rooms and terraces have been staggered to prevent overlooking, whilst the planting between arches acts as privacy screens.

The auditorium is 34, 600 sq ft, and has the capacity for 2,500 attendees. Transformation House is surrounded by a lively mix of bars, restaurants, cafes and shops on Battersea rise, St Johns Hill, Lavender Hill and Northcote Road.