3 Lovers Walk

A quite dreadful feature of Brighton is the dreary series of imposing office buildings overlooking Preston Park. There were once Victorian villas and now only one remains at the foot of Lovers Walk.

Lovers Walk is a gem of a road. It was once a footpath leading to Seven Dials but was transformed dramatically when the railway was built through it during the late 1830s. It became a cul-de-sac when the upper goods yard and Dyke Road Drive were built in 1878.

Several distinctive properties are situated above the aforementioned villa including a delightful set of flint cottages. No. 3 is another large detached double-fronted villa and is tucked away at the top of the road, adjacent to a steep flight of stone steps which leads up to Dyke Road Drive above. Quite appropriately, it is named ‘The Nook’.

The Nook has been owned by Two Piers Housing Co-operative since 1984 and is currently undergoing major works. It is not a restoration or conversion though. The works, paid for by a Technology Strategy Board grant, relate solely to improving the house’s eco credentials.

I heard about this building through Mischa Hewitt whom I first met when I wrote about the Brighton Earthship in Stanmer Park. Mischa is a Director of Earthwise Construction, the firm responsible for the building work on this project, and he kindly showed me the building’s various eco improvements.

James Rae at BBM Architects, a quite appropriate firm for eco work, was responsible for much of the design work. The sides and back of the house have been smothered with five inches of thick exterior insulation. The front of the building, due to its ornate features, has been insulated from the inside. The sides and back of the building have triple-glazed NorDan windows whereas the front has double-glazed Vrogum windows. As one might expect, the roof is now home to a solar thermal panel.

As a committed conservationist, I would have been looking to replace the missing balustrades on the front steps and change the concrete roof tiles for slate. But this project is not about history, it’s simply about reducing the energy foortprint of this house (to 17kg of CO2 per annum apparently). It is unique in the way that the money – no small amount – has been spent solely on environmentally-friendly features. It may not all be pretty, but it’s certainly warm and, therefore, a success.