Len House, Maidstone
The redevelopment of Len House, a striking 1930’s Grade II listed building in Maidstone, Kent is part of a wider scheme to create 1,000 homes across 5 sites in the town of Maidstone, Kent. Working with Hollaway architects for our client Classicus Estates, we are structural engineers on the project which will champion high quality public realm and urban living. The building, which was previously a car showroom, filling station and repair workshop, will be repurposed to offer workspace or homes within the heart of the town, all of which will contribute to revitalising work and home life. The project is a great example of the ‘Retrofirst’ approach that we passionately believe in, that wherever possible buildings should be reused and have new life breathed into them.
The repurposing of the building is sympathetic to the rich history of the building and its features, including the retained car ramp which took vehicles from the main entrance up to the workshop at first floor. This ramp led to the building being the inspiration for the 1970’s Play Family Garage toy by Fisher-Price.
Our work has involved carrying out a building and site appraisal to establish the key constraints to development and assessing the residual structural capacity within the existing building to support additional storeys. Interestingly research of historical documents has found the building was designed to support significantly higher loads than needed for modern day residential and commercial use. These documents also gave us a detailed understanding of how the area has developed. The River Len, which runs through the site, is thought to have been diverted in the 15th Century to form the mill pond.
A good understanding of the below-ground constraints has gone on to inform proposals across the wider site, including construction of new residential buildings on the existing car park, and exploring how the River Len, partly culverted, can be re-opened to form a positive addition to the landscape of this fascinating site.