London’s housing crisis isn’t just about homes being more expensive than many people can afford – too many people are also living in overcrowded accommodation. So it’s crucial that we don’t underuse land. Our clients felt that was the case here: the existing terrace contained 14 dwellings, but there was clearly room for a residential housing development that would create good homes for many more people.
So they proposed demolition and rebuilding, and chose us as their architect to craft an architectural design and get planning permission for the new build residential units. But it wasn’t a simple task: the replacement homes would need to make the most of the site while respecting the neighbours’ right to light, contribute to London’s need for affordable housing and be places where people would want to live.
Many of the priorities with new build residential units design are the same as all other types of housing: is there enough natural light, space and – if possible – greenery? We knew this was a site with tremendous opportunities – much of it was wasted on an over-large car park and what might have once been two lawns but were just dirt patches now.
Drawing on our experience of new build housing architecture, we realised that rather than replicating the existing terrace, what would work best on the site was a low-rise semi-perimeter block. It’s an idea maybe more traditionally associated with Paris or Barcelona than London, but allowed us to create 41 flats where there had been 14.
The stepped roof heights mean that the houses behind don’t lose their light. The flats are dual-aspect and spacious and the roof gardens mean that all the residents have access to their own bit of green space. With the government suggesting planning policy changes so that London suburbs can fit more well-designed housing where land is under-utilised at the moment, expect to see more projects like this in years to come – we’ve shown how it can be done.
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