The Fenny Kitchen Restaurant

The main bulk of our projects here involve working on our client’s houses, but every now and again we also get involved in some commercial projects. We recently designed and project managed the interior of a restaurant, this has been ongoing for some time with the work being split into two phases; the first of which was the refurbishment and restoration of the external timber together with some structural alterations. Due to the fact that the building is a Grade 2 listed building, the Local Authorities Conservation Team had to be consulted along with the Planning Department, Structural Engineers and Building Inspector. Many of the details had to be resolved on-site and communicated to the builders on a daily basis.

The building itself was originally a farmhouse built around the 1630’s, it’s been built with a timber frame and brick infill which is of a high standard. As the photo above shows, the top of this timber column has been carefully carved, which leads us to believe that the farmhouse was built for someone of a high status.

When confronted with carrying out work to an older building, it’s good practice to make it clear what’s new and what’s original. In this respect, a bit of ingenuity is sometimes required when necessary structural improvements need to be carried out.
In the photo above, the layering of the structural enhancements can be clearly seen; the dark oak in the middle has been sandwiched between pitch pine in Victorian times, which has subsequently been sandwiched by a steel plate and bolts in modern times. Thus, the existing structural frame is on show but with sympathetic improvements. A carpenter has then filled in some of the oak which was then rotten and decayed with some new oak, and no attempt has been made to create an ‘invisible mend’ quite deliberately.

Once all of the structural work was completed, the second phase could commence. This was working on the interior, which wasn’t easy. A different team of tradesmen were brought in with a different set of skills, but they proved to be unreliable, so we had to replace them with others. The case was the same with the electrical company and by the end of the project, we had a great team of builders, electricians and plumbers.

Often, good design can come about by following obvious structural necessities. In the above photo, a new steel column with cap plate was required to support the timber frame above and following good practice, the new and the old should be bolted together.

The restaurant opened on Sunday to much acclaim, and we are proud to have been involved.

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Converted: It was a farmhouse, it’s not now.

In 1997 Building Tectonics designed the alterations of this derelict, 17th Century grade 2 listed building in Fenny Stratford (just outside Bletchley) to form it into 3 commercial units below and 3 flats over. Previously architects had obtained planning permission for the conversion of this unit into 6 dwellings, but this was considered uneconomic.

Having worked on listed buildings before, our general philosophy is to understand the existing structure, and where possible work with it – This is very much close to the heart of the Tectonic philosophy.

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In the case of the 59 Aylesbury Street project, it had been built as a farmhouse, its timber frame being organized in 3 bays. Creating 3 commercial units below and 3 flats over meant there only really had to be minor adjustments as very little had to be done to the timber frame structure itself. This pleased the historic building officer and was an economic and safe solution to the refurbishment.

Stairs after refurbishment

Building Tectonics project managed this to the completion on time and on budget. The flats and commercial units remain very popular to this day and are always occupied.

Written by Tony Keller – Building Tectonics Ltd.