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.

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