Design is crucial, both aesthetic and in use of limited space. Fashion – an elusive and moving target – must now be catered for. The finished home is now viewed as a product and to succeed in the marketplace it must evolve and develop to meet the needs and aspirations of the purchaser.
The concept of lifestyle development is now established, but we believe the 20-something, coffee drinking, book reading purchaser is now a cliché and is too simple a stereotype. We believe purchasers today are increasingly consumer oriented, but also investor savvy. Buying a property is now as easy as buying a car and as with cars often the trivial details secure good sales.
At Sophie Curtis Property we have been developing and refining our product over many years and always sell our developments quickly.
To our team this means beautiful, glamorous, smart, generous entrance lobbies which exude style, comfort and quality. Lighting is usually FLOS, materials solid, carpets are beautiful wool in those café tones not usually associated with developments. From this solid start our light filled well designed apartments flow with subtle changes which give a sense of “own space”.
When converting period buildings, restoration is not an option, but an obligation and one that Sophie Curtis Property is passionate about. Working with local Conservation Officers and drawing on the expertise of historians and craftsmen our aim is to sympathetically restore buildings to their former glory.
A particular achievement was the painstaking restoration of the Synagogue’s original Ancient plaster ceiling. This had fallen into severe disrepair and was in danger of being lost forever. Much of the original plaster had fallen off and what was left was badly deteriorated. The project was undertaken by the nationally acclaimed specialist contractor England’s Ornamental Plastering whose clients include the Royal Pavilion, Westdene House, Regency Town House and Kensington Palace Gardens. They were commissioned to restore the ceiling using the same method (such as lime plastering, cornice running and moulding) and specification (including lime ox hair mortar) the original nineteenth century craftsman, Mr Nesden, under David Mocatta’s guidance would have used.
The following extract is taken from the report by England’s Ornamental Plastering into the condition of the plaster ceiling and the proposed restoration.
Condition Statement, Method & Specification for the Repair & Restoration of Ancient Plaster Ceiling at 1st Floor Level.
The ancient ceiling is an area of approximately 26ft x 29ft bounded by an in-situ-run lime-mortar cornice with fine cast ornamentation. The condition of the cornice is very poor, with approx. 50% being heavily damaged or lost to date and the prospect of further significant loss during the completion of aggressive works. Nevertheless, sufficient original fabric remains to ensure an accurate rebuild.
The lath and plaster ceiling entrapped within the cornice is heavily repaired with plaster board and modern gypsum products and is also in very poor condition, with approximately 40% lost to date and the prospect of further significant loss, perhaps to 60% in total, upon completion of major building works.
The ceiling is pierced by a central tapering rectangular skylight. The perimeter of the skylight at ceiling level is decorated with fine cast ornamentation (currently only vertically mounted), worked up to a staff bead corner detail. However, archaeological evidence exists, entrapped within the south east column head currently supporting the ceiling, that horizontally mounted ornament was also originally present. The lost ornamentation is assumed to have been removed during relatively recent stabilisation works, probably whilst the building was in use as a gym.
The four tapering internal faces of the skylight are decorated with bead and reel edged panel moulding. The faces show signs of weakness and relatively recent repair. It should be assumed that some damage/loss will accompany further aggressive works.
Placed onto the ceiling originally, just beyond the corners of the skylight, were four in-situ-run lime-mortar ceiling centres elaborated with a perimeter of egg& dart and fillet. Two of the four original bosses are now missing and the surviving work is in poor condition. However, sufficient work remains to ensure adequate reinstatement.
Establishing the age of the ceiling works is difficult, as the area does not yet offer good access. However, the cornice itself generally shows no signs of secondary working/aggressive section, nor do the vertical battens or the laths behind. This suggests the work was carried out primarily either in 1825 or 1837 but not across this period with progressive gentrification occurring.
Given the evidence that the whole of the front elevation was rebuilt by David Mocatta (brick jointing evidence visible to the internal north and south flank walls as they abut the west wall of the original 1825 building) and the recorded expenditure of £40 on ceiling works in 1837 (noted in the local authority report) it seems by far the most likely explanation that the whole of the detailing seen today was introduced during Mocatta’s rebuilding works.
Despite the difficulty in absolutely discerning if the elaborated ornament to the ceiling and skylight is of the1820s or the 1830s phase of works it is undoubtedly of great significance, being one of the few early 19th Century synagogue ceilings remaining in the United Kingdom.
The stabilisation of the remaining work is paramount and a program of screwing up into timberwork beyond is essential. This is a straightforward process and will avert any further loss/collapse. It is recommended this work is conducted immediately by a competent craftsman familiar with ornamental plasterwork stabilisation and restoration.
Thereafter, consider the recommendations/directions below:
Task Method statement incorporating specification for evaluation
Utilising original methodology and like-for-like materials (but replacing nails for screws) and in conjunction with the builders agree a stabilisation/renewal of background works protocol and thereafter progress both walls and cornice together.