elevation, so an overall composition was needed that would offset this. A “sculptural” approach was taken to the two blocks, which ended up as forms tapering at upper levels, one with a pitched gable roof echoing adjacent houses, the other a more ‘modified’ gable. Within a constrained site, the architects struck a balance between maximising floor space for owners, and ameliorating light issues for neighbours, while achieving as much as possible for residents (amply aided by the large windows at high level).

“We wanted to see what other opportunities we could offer in terms of spaces”

which is performance based, whether that is environmental, commercial, contextual, or just atmospheric.”


The idea for two separate, but linked low- rise buildings emerged from a close look at the local context and building scale, which constitutes a “mixed grain” of 1980s and earlier council housing, and retail, with grand red brick Victorian and Georgian terraces further south along the park. “So it made sense to have two buildings responding differently,” says the architect; The larger front building contains six apartments – two two-beds on the ground and first floors, and two split-level three beds on the second and third floors. The rear building has four apartments – two one beds on the ‘lower ground’ and two further three-bed split levels on the upper ground and first floors.

The site has three aspects, making it “quite exciting architecturally to deal with,” he adds. It terminates a “tapering” block, and the architects did several massing studies to see how to create a fitting “end stop.” In addition, windows had to be minimised on the long south-facing


The result was a monolithic exterior with horizontal bands of clay shingles encasing both walls and roof. This was partly making a virtue of necessity as height restraints and the eave lines of the former Victorian bank next door meant that the front elevation could not be as high as originally planned. The roof appears more as a steep section of cladding, signalled by cranked windows that wrap around the otherwise invisible junction between wall and roof. The form is then truncated to create a flattened, mansard-like effect. There are flush structural bonded windows to front and rear, which crank vertically over the junction between wall and roof. This gives a more personalised identity to the building, but also has a performance benefit, especially to the rear, as the crank allows light to penetrate deeper into the plan. It also gives users the opportunity of having two different obscuring blinds.

A concrete plinth With the frame being of CLT, and the site sloping around 1.5 metres from front to back, a continuous concrete retaining wall was created, linking the two buildings as part of a ‘plinth.’ This also created a new datum line which enabled four level gardens sitting between the two blocks in a courtyard created by the retaining wall. This approach avoided “having the two sculptural forms meeting the ground in a slightly awkward way,” says Tikari. It would also create a buffer zone which would be more resistant to any damage at street level than the shingle cladding, for which replacing any individual units would be a major headache due to the way it’s laid. The architects decided to go for fair- faced shuttering to the wall, rather than bring in another trade to clad it. While reinforcing the idea of “unity and community” between the two buildings, using the wall to create a protective ring around the scheme, the architects also


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