Demolition of existing building and redevelopment of the site to provide 3 x 3 bedroom semi-detached houses and 1 x 1bedroom and 1 x 2 bedroom flats.
Building Semi-detached New Houses and Flats
Our clients had a decent-sized plot in north London, just before you get to the Green Belt. On it was a house split up into a couple of flats and a disused car repair garage. The house had no particular architectural or historical value and they felt it should be possible to make better use of the site.
We agreed. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to create new homes without upsetting the feel of the neighbourhood. We thought we could replace two flats with two flats and three houses, which would be good for our clients and also make a contribution to London’s housing supply without causing any disruption to the area, which is nice when you can do it.
But we would have to identify the elusive ‘local character’ on a street where you can find everything from Mock Tudor to Art Deco and at half a dozen different roof types.
When it comes to the loft extension, our clients were opposed to building a second staircase so we would have to extend the original staircase up to the new floor. The planning case officers disagreed with one of the elements of our renovation plan, despite the fact we had strictly adhered to the relevant policies. And we weren’t able to use permitted development rights which often make adding an extension easier.
New Build House
A corner site offers all sorts of opportunities – it’s up to the architect to make the most of them. The stroke of inspiration here was to create what looked from the front like two pairs of semi-detached houses. But when you turn the corner, it turns out that the corner ‘house’ is actually two flats, one of which you entered at the front and the other at the side. There was room for all five homes to have proper gardens, which is always an excellent thing to be able to provide in London.
At our pre-application meeting, the council agreed that there was nothing wrong with the basic idea of what our client wanted to do. But they weren’t happy with the look of our houses. We really like what we were suggesting – these were exciting, contemporary homes – but we can see how some people might have felt they were too bold an addition to a suburban London street.
So we had another look at the nearby houses to see what elements we could echo and update. We reinterpreted the bay windows found along the street. And we decided to pitch the roofs in a way that made what we were suggesting look like one big building, with similar proportions to the huge semi-detached houses nearby.
If you take a look at the floorplans, you can see that the houses have very large dual-aspect kitchen-dining-living rooms. And the flats also have good-sized kitchen-diners with plenty of natural light. We think all of these homes will make their residents very happy.
Urbanist Architecture is a London-based RIBA chartered architecture and planning practice with offices in Greenwich and Belgravia. We are on a mission to unlock the hidden potential of your site and deliver you a successful transformational change.