case study

At the adjacent No 58, the internal layouts of the two flats were carefully reconfigured and converted into residential dwellings. Meanwhile, the construction of the Passivhaus buildings (A,B,C 54 Akerman Road) completed the bomb-damaged terrace and provided three new-build large four-bed family houses. The development team also retained the green space located at the back of the former hostel and divided it into private gardens for two of the flats, while the green space within the bomb-damaged infill site provided gardens for the new build homes.

“All that science was put into the retrofit in the same manner that it was used for the new build homes”

Fabric first

Main image: The two hostel buildings (56-58 Akerman Road) sit adjacent to the new builds © Paul Samuel White

Above: The three new houses completed the bomb-damaged Victorian terrace © Lambeth Borough Council

both properties. An additional challenge was the fact that No 56 is a heritage listed building – it had been the former residence of Victorian-era entertainer Dan Leno between 1898-1901 and has a blue plaque on its front elevation. Despite these constraints, the council was committed to delivering its key objectives – creating sustainable, affordable homes that would require little maintenance in the future while also addressing issues such as fuel poverty.


Lambeth’s planning committee was first presented with the scheme in May 2011, but planners deferred it for design improvements to ensure the development would better relate to the neighbouring properties. The amended designs, presented to the committee in November the same year, included two-storey bay windows created to replicate those on the neighbouring terrace, and to retain the rhythm and consistency of the streetscape. Beyond those relatively simple design tweaks, the scheme had to

adhere to the council’s sustainability criteria, which the team worked towards addressing by specifying Passivhaus new builds and the highly- insulated hostel conversion. This process delayed the commencement of the project, which did not begin on site until 2015, despite the fact it had been granted planning approval in 2012.

On site

To support the Lambeth Development Team, contractor Sandwood Design and Build (SDB) was appointed in June 2015, with architects Anne Thorne and Prewett Bizley novated to the contractor. The experience of the architects and contractor was key: Anne Thorne had worked with SDB on other social housing schemes, including Hawthorn Road – a retrofit of two maisonettes in Haringey, in which, similarly to the Akerman Road project, the two firms refurbished the buildings to standards close to Passivhaus. In Lambeth, the contractor converted the 11 bedsits within the blue plaque No 56 building into four highly-insulated self-contained flats (two three-bed, one two-bed, and one one-bed). The development team also created key facilities missing from the former bedsits by utilising kitchens and bathrooms for each home. There was also the addition of a two-storey rearside extension that allowed the developers to better accommodate the flats.

Lambeth’s decision to opt for two practices experienced in delivering low energy schemes was vital for the low carbon and low embodied energy materials specified in the scheme. In the new builds, the walls were made of timber and filled with recycled newspaper and natural sheep wool insulation. Similarly, the insulation used in the retrofit homes was a type of wood fibre that stores carbon in the fabric, but is also breathable, thus preventing problems such as overheating, condensation or damp. Jones explained, “We used materials that were – wherever possible – sensitive to the environment and the fabric of the building – this decision was down to the architects, but we [Lambeth Council] also supported the low energy design and the material use.” He stressed that the hostel conversion was engineered via the same

software used for the new build Passivhaus buildings – PHPP (Passivhaus Planning Package) – which meant the team could carry out complex assessments regarding thermal modelling and thermal comfort and cold bridging. “All that science was put into the retrofit in the same manner that it was used for the new build homes,” said Jones. The hostel, which was last refurbished in the late 1970s, was described

as “generally habitable” by Huw, who added, “The hostel was occupied, so we had to ensure it was safe and suitable by undertaking checks each year. But we had what we call significant asset liabilities – there was a lot of work to be done.” One area that caused delays to the project was the repair of an extensive part of the brickwork – an issue that became apparent only after the internal linings had been stripped. Once completed in August 2016, the scheme was a success not only for

Gardens were created at the back of the hostel and the new houses © Lambeth Borough Council | HMM March 2017 | 25

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52