those were the principles we were looking at – keeping the street frontage but trying to activate it a bit more,” Shanley explains. “The bays themselves relate directly to the Victorian bays but inside the space is a lot more generous.” The only alteration to this arrangement was where a “cutback” was made to the first and second floors next to the surgery which sits at the eastern end of the new row of houses, so as not to block windows.

The decision to clad the extended bays in corten steel was largely inspired by the range of colours found in the local built environment. “The materiality in the area is quite a blend,” Shanley says. “They’re largely red brick, but what’s unusual is they also have stock brick and quite a lot of white render.”

As well as replicating this blend of reds and whites, the architects had also decided they wanted to emphasise the bays by using a different material, and so as Shanley says, with the stock brick being used elsewhere, “corten seemed to be quite a nice way of doing that blend”. They also took inspiration for this from a church across the road which largely comprised stock brick, but with a prominent bay. “We wanted to make it a contemporary form,” Shanley says. “We wanted it to look like one material was wrapping around, almost like a separate skin, and corten met those requirements.”

The practice is fond of using corten, as shown on various projects in its portfolio. “We’d just used it on a primary school so we were familiar with the material,” says Shanley. “It was something we were used to in the office.”

Although in the end the corten covers the front of the bays and continues up to the roof, the form of the frontages could have looked distinctly different, explains Shanley. “We looked at various options for using it, and how it interacted with the brick”. At one point, they considered wrapping the whole of the bays in the corten but the idea had to be abandoned at it was going to make the building too heavy, plus, as Shanley says, “it just seemed a bit dense. It essentially became a skin, because it helped break up the bigger mass of the brick.”

Shanley also believes the balance between the amount of corten compared to the stock brick matches the ratio of red to white on the rest of the area’s buildings. Additionally, the surgery next door is finished in stock brick, so “the lighter brick seemed more appropriate,” he says.


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