Nine in corten

A row of nine new houses in a south west London street emulates aspects of its Victorian terraces – but adds some contemporary twists, most obviously in the design’s copious use of corten steel. Roseanne Field reports

row of standard Victorian terraces running along both sides. That is, until you reach the eastern end of the road, where Architecture Initiative’s development of nine adjoining houses, enlivened by corten steel cladding, puts a modern spin on this traditional style of home.


The houses have been carefully designed to play on the Victorian vernacular that suburban London has in abundance. The practice worked on the project with ‘boutique’ project management company Style and Space, who design and build homes across the capital.

Both companies were drawing from their experiences on a previous project they’d worked on together – a development of eight residential units and a business premises on Pirbright Road, also in Wandsworth. “That project was a similar thing,” explains Craig Shanley, associate at Architecture Initiative. “We basically maximised the available development potential of that site, while being sensitive.” The Revelstoke Road site was previously home to a redundant carpet warehouse and some hardstanding. Style and Space were unsure what the site would be suitable for, so rather than coming to the practice with a number of units in mind, they instead “asked us to do feasibility on it and look at what could be available on the site,” explains Shanley.

Although to some the small site might have been limiting, for Architecture

he houses that line Revelstoke Road in Wandsworth, south west London are fairly unremarkable – a

Initiative it provided an opportunity to reimagine the conventional housing stock on offer in London. This would include a somewhat unconventional approach to materials.

Innovating density

Housing – and in particular housing in London – is indisputably a hot topic. London boroughs and local authorities are being encouraged to support as much residential development as possible, and so gaining planning permission was unlikely to be a major obstacle. The team also benefitted from the fact that the site was redundant, and the council wished to improve it. “It wasn’t benefitting the area,” says Shanley. “From historical research we knew there was a terrace there that had been demolished at some point so we were basically reinstating the street.” In fact, the practice’s plans were welcomed with open arms. “It got recommended at the committee meeting,” Shanley explains. Councillor and planning committee chair Sarah McDermott was even quoted as saying: “This scheme is exactly the sort of development Wandsworth Borough Council should be encouraging.” “It’s quite rare to have that,” admits Shanley. “They thought it was an innovative approach and they liked the relationship to the Victorian housing and the contemporary material.” The design of the houses, which were all for private sale, took its inspiration from the surrounding properties. However, it’s Architecture Initiative’s belief that Victorian


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