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Multiple Housing

Client: H&R Properties
Building Owner: L&Q Group Housing Association

1 Bowling Green Street is a new apartment building near the Oval cricket ground. It's a retrofitted derelict 1930’s pub, which sat within the Kennington Park Estate, with an upwards extension. 

Our approach for this project aimed to reuse or reclaim the elements of the existing pub, and build the new apartments directly over.  A new cross-laminated timber structure now sits above the ground floor for a further 4 storeys. Elements retained in the design were the ground floor/part 1st floor brick walls and the basement, along with some reuse of the pub's salvaged bricks. The building has 9 apartments and a ground-floor commercial (office/studio) space.
It incorporates the fundamentals of low-carbon construction from first principles, and as far as possible we encourage the use of timber as sequestered carbon.  Modern timber technology allowed us to go 6 storeys high, using solid timber floors and wall panels. This resulted in a carbon store of 400 Tonnes of Co2 (300T from the CLT) with an equivalent carbon saving from the usual steel/concrete alternatives of 800T of Co2. To put this in perspective, the average UK household annual emission is about 5 Tonnes of Co2 per year, or 17 years of energy consumption. This gives the building a head start of 17 years before it even reaches the zero carbon threshold. 

The CLT structure provided the structure and internal walls for the building, and in addition, the cladding is 'Kebony' southern yellow pine treated timber boarding as a continuous wall and screen. Depth and texture is added by articulating the timber facade. These vertical 'fins' on the external wall continue around the southern balconies as a trellis in a “ghost” similar pattern but without the wall of the main building.

The retained basement was strengthened with a steel platform structure to support the building above. Lower parts of the existing pub were partly rebuilt or reconfigured. Above ground floor the timber cross-laminated structure was placed on a steel framed RC deck. 

The CLT structure was transported by truck from Austria in six deliveries and craned into place in this very restricted urban site. With CLT, five storeys were completed in only 3 weeks. The confined site was an ideal opportunity to exploit the potential of prefabricated timber construction in the city.  Once completed, the building was then insulated with fire breaks and clad in dark Kebony timber. The cladding was supplied pre-finished, and lacquered over the factory-applied fire treatment. 

The new apartments sit tightly within a 1930's LDDC brick estate (Kennington Park), and the Kebony walls (with a factory-applied fire retardant) were chosen to complement the textures and colours of these elegant buildings. As they are solid and robust buildings the new timber facade is also given some depth so that it also has a gravitas not usually associated with timber. The reconfigured brick ground floor of the building gives the building a protective base necessary in such a tight urban site.

1 Bowling Green Street

Apartment building at Bowling Green Street, near the Oval Cricket Ground

Client: H&R Properties

This triangular brownfield site is about 700 metres from Luton Town Centre. It is sloping around 6 metres lower than the surrounding housing, and rises eventually to Dallow Road to the south. It was once an extensive builders' merchant yard, now cleared industrial land, surrounded by neighbouring terraced housing. 

As designers, for these types of mass housing schemes, we actively encourage a 'blind tenure' approach where there should be no negative differentiation between private, affordable and social housing elements. 

Our overriding concept continues the terraced street. The massing and heights relate both to the existing street pattern and overall heights, relating to the skyline profile. 
The urban pattern of the traditional street is applied to ‘stitch in’ the new with the old. 

The design creates a light, airy and open living environment. The intention is to be exemplar, offering high-quality units which are comfortable to live in, and contribute positively to the visual aesthetic of the area. Large windows have been created on the front elevations. 

Early consultations with Luton Housing showed a need for larger family units, so the initial proposals were adjusted to meet these needs. The design allows for flexibility in these provisions, with little change to the overall massing.  The overall layout of the blocks and breaking these down to commonly 10 – 12 flats per communal lobby was welcomed by Housing, as it allows for a good level of mixing tenancies, and to allow residents to feel part of a smaller community. 

To enhance the sociability balanced with a need for residents’ privacy, a continuous balcony runs the full length of the street on both sides. The balconies meander along the street to break down the order of the buildings behind, and allow residents to personalise their frontages. It is hoped that over time these will become a small ‘front garden’ for the residents. 

The main material of the façades is fire-retardant treated timber, with the generous window and doors openings on the façades themselves making the frontages porous and open. The balconies protect the frontage from weathering, and more importantly gives the buildings a depth in the façades themselves. 
In retaining the traditional street pattern, the width of the proposed street is in excess of those found locally. The proposed new street varies in width between 14.2m and 25m this allows for the generous landscaping between the houses/apartments, and behind. 

Additional amenity and landscaping is proposed to the rear and under the apartments at ground level. Private rooftop gardens are provided for some blocks. Each cluster of apartments have roof level shared gardens.

Ex-Travis Perkins site, Dallow Rd, Luton

186 residential units, with new landscaping including cycle storage & parking
Client: SHF Properties

16 apartments overlooking a small park close to Tate Modern, varying from 1 bed flats to 3 bedroom rooftop apartments. 

Basement parking is provided with a car lift and a new nursery space takes up the ground floor area. Uniquely, the site overlooks a neighbourhood park, and also has views north to the city and west to the Southbank.

Its abstracted design resulted from looking carefully at its architecturally diverse context, in particular, the example of local warehouses. SE1 has a strong and distinct character shaped by its rich history of merchants and visitors to the City. The design takes the warehouse type and reverses it: walls are transparent and openings can become solid. To achieve this end, the skin was freed from its loadbearing role and developed as a single system to respond to both the inherent sensitivities of housing design whilst remaining contextual.

The facade system was designed by Swiss firm Hirsch, and is as a unified system which can respond to differing orientations. Openings in it are made at the scale of a warehouse door, as many such buildings still remain in the area. 

The external full height opening doors can be opened or closed to help control the internal environment.
The three wall types allow this flexibility. The solid timber panels open, aluminium panels provide enclosure, and the full height glazing provide outlook/light. The façade pattern is deliberately loose, to allow flexibility and makes each apartment unique. Externally, the floor levels, columns, services and openings are absorbed into the pattern of the façade. This skin wraps the building including a version for the open bridge, and the flank walls are almost blank but hold a reference to a source for the pattern. 

The massing has been separated into 2 distinct buildings, with the nursery at street level would enlivening the local streetscape. The north building is taller and is related to the park and the south building is lower, at the scale of local streets in the area. The composition of 2 buildings is important in breaking down the massing to clearly express two blocks, rather than one.

At ground level, the public connection with the street is key in relating the building to it’s context. This overtly generous and open plan element of the building has been designed to connect rather than create barriers.

Lantern Apartments, Borough

16 apartments and a nursery at ground level for a site on the south side of Mint Street Park near Tate Modern

Client: Square Foot Properties

Ex-Travis Perkins site,  Simpson Road, Bletchley, Milton Keynes

Client: Azuka Estates

Many local authorities' stated declarations acknowledging a Climate Emergency hardly meet current requirements of sustainable construction - this design hopes to go well beyond these parameters, as we see the Climate Emergency as a statement of intent. 

Milton Keynes has recently been named the greenest city in the UK.

The site is a sloping brownfield area, formerly a builder's merchant yard, bounded by the Grand Union Canal and Fenny Lodge. 

The proposals are for 103 new residential flats within new landscaping with parking for cars and cycles. 

The character of existing site and its surroundings generated the design- we tried to achieve the highest standards of sustainability, with exemplary low-carbon construction and passive design. 

Here, the green landscaping is integral to this intent, and includes rooftop growspaces/allotments and on-site renewable energy generation. 

The existing mature trees are limited to the periphery of the site, and have been retained. 

We have incorporated a diverse 'amenity provision' to encourage a sense of community identity. Several scales of amenity encourages a more socially vibrant community to develop, including generous south facing terraces, private and shared gardens, and rooftop growing spaces which can be used as container allotments. 

The parallel layout of new apartment blocks mirror the way the neighbouring houses address the Canal, which all fully exploit their relationship with the Canal & their landscaping.

The siting of these blocks connects the 2 sides of the site- Simpson Road is visually connected back to the Canal and landscape beyond. This canalside architecture is a solution that is distinct from the typical suburban architecture of the repetitive stretch of long streets, with front gardens, detached houses and rear gardens. 

There is flexibility in both the sizes of the flats available- we consulted with Milton Keynes Housing early on in the design to reflect their current needs in the proposed mix. This also incorporated their accessibility requirements and lifetime homes standards. 

Given the inherent conflict between this sustainable approach & the local authority's insistence on a large car parking requirement, the design has incorporated electric charging points, car sharing and substantial cycle provision.

Simpson Rd, Bletchley, Milton Keynes

103 new apartments with green landscaping along the Grand Union Canal

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