In support of an RFP from Brick-by-Brick, Croydon Council’s residential development company who were seeking new design partners, an example proposal for a modestly-sized (c.10-15-units) urban project was needed. Having previously identified a long-neglected gap-site on the Uxbridge Road this was used as the basis for HCM’s design suggestion.
The corner site has the advantage of a footpath between it and the adjoining property thereby giving it dual access / aspect, which was advantageous in terms of providing both active street frontage for studio / workshop spaces and a ‘high-street’ retail unit as well as direct residential access; the latter being given their own front gardens.
Located in a remote and heavily wooded valley and accessed via a narrow track this site commands tremendous views across its surroundings. The deer-forest setting provides both a stunning backdrop and outlook for the property, one that we were keen to exploit in the design.
A small two-bedroom cottage and adjoining disused barn formed the basis of the project. Steeply rising ground immediately behind the existing buildings and the need to maintain a forestry access path to the rear concentrated all new works to the front.
West London’s Hanger Hill Garden Estate is a very well-preserved example of a Tudor Revival housing estate from the inter-war period. It has been a conservation area since 1969 and is the subject of a number of design controls regarding extensions. HCM was appointed to undertake a project to both expand and modernize the internal arrangement of one of the terraced house on the estate. Careful consideration was required to ensure that the massing of the extension blended with the period architectural style of the neighbourhood externally whilst the interior delivered the understated modern interior desired by the client. Planning consent was achieved in late 2020 for this project.
Modern styles of living do not always sit comfortably with period-house layouts, particularly in terms of the relationship of the kitchen with the reception areas and garden. Addressing this disconnect was the starting point for this residential extension project where the goal was to deliver an integrated family / kitchen / play space for a young family. Primary changes were the creation of an L-shaped kitchen / play room linking the original kitchen at the front with the back garden, the relocation of the garage with a TV room built over along with enhancements to the entrance lobby to make space for a cloak room.
Despite having traditional looks this Edwardian detached house was unusual in being constructed in concrete, a fact that did not provide for the warmest home environment there being no insulation in the walls or roof. As part of a major overhaul this issue needed to be addressed along with the creation of a new family / kitchen / dining space along the side rear of the house linked to a generally open-plan interior. An exposed Glu-Lam roof structure added warmth and a natural feel for the extension and a single floor finish (all under-floor heated) aided the visual transition between / linkage of all the spaces.
No one-size-fits-all in housing: we tried this with the doomed International Style exported by Corbusier and others only to see sub-standard imitations de-humanise too many cities.
All cities have a unique grid, pattern, language and character and their housing should be tailored from the cloth of that identity. For this study I took Glasgow as my model a city famous for its tenements and for the mis-guided 1950s destruction of its heart and soul by well-meaning but insensitive planners. Wrecking balls tore down the classical inspired tenements of architects like Greek Thompson, replacing them with the soul-less brutalism of high-rise flats. Surely, we missed a step in between of creating proper homes set in identifiable communities.