A former 1820's stable, unlike most of these Mews properties 17 Royal Terrace Mews had more or less remained in original condition, complete with a hayloft. It had been used up until recent times as the garage and store for a local potato distributor. It is a memorable job for us because it came within a whisker of claiming the Sterling Prize for the best building in Britain in the first year of the competition's inception. It was also the last job where we attempted to carry out all the works, including the ornamental and constructional steelwork in house.
The mews was to be converted into a one bedroom flat. The architects' design was meant to 'express the idea of a new house found within the repaired shell of the existing stable so that the history of the building is expressed, particularly on the front facade'.
This was also the first job where we hit on the idea of employing our own architect to take the job on site. In this case we were fortunate in that Graeme Mitchel, a former employee of Richard Murphy and the person who had produced most of the detailed drawing work for this project, agreed to come and work for us. With his help the job ran efficiently and smoothly. Richard Murphy became the project architect and his weekly visits to site were always looked forward to with some trepadation. We became expert at spotting that look in his eye when he arrived, where he was obviously redesigning some key feature of the building - usually after we had just completed it. "Steve, would it be terribly difficult to...?" was normally the opening sentence. Incidentally, these on the job alterations often become some the best bits of his buildings.
In some respects this project was where Inscape came of age. We knew after this that that we were capable (subject to scale) of building anything and for anyone. We began to form a team of equally capable sub-contractors to work with us and we opened our first small workshop. All the internal finishes at Royal Terrace were crafted on site including the kitchen, wardrobes, a bookcase and the bed. Many of the details, now seen as signatures of Richard Murphy's work were perfected on this project and our own sense of pride in the construction was demonstrated when we replaced one of the cobble stones at the garage entrance with a lump of brass to match, inscribed with Inscape's name. We wondered how Richard would react when he saw it "Where's mine?" was what he said.