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Peckham House, Southwark

Words:
Regional Awards Jury

Panache and ‘subversive contextualism’ of Surman Weston's family home lands Percy Weston 2024 RIBA London Project Architect of the Year

Peckham House. Front elevation.
Peckham House. Front elevation. Credit: Percy Weston

2024 RIBA London Award
2024 RIBA London Project Architect of the Year Percy Weston

Peckham House, Peckham
Surman Weston for private client
Contract value: Confidential
GIA: 100m2

The infill corner site was a hard-won purchase of land from the council for a house by the architects Tom Surman and Percy Weston, who developed it as a family home for one of them. Both have funds invested in it and built the project with some occasional help from friends. Small but generously spaced, its dominant feature is brick. In both scale and materials, it makes a positive contribution to the street, with enthusiasm and playfulness writ large in its geometry and details. It also has a strong environmental conscience, with low-carbon materials used in ways that minimise or eliminate waste.

 

  • Peckham House. Street elevation.
    Peckham House. Street elevation. Credit: Jim Stephenson
  • Peckham House. Enfillade reception rooms.
    Peckham House. Enfillade reception rooms. Credit: Jim Stephenson
  • Peckham House. Double height study bedroom.
    Peckham House. Double height study bedroom. Credit: Jim Stephenson
  • Peckham House. Tom and Percy on the roof terrace.
    Peckham House. Tom and Percy on the roof terrace. Credit: Jim Stephenson
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The house stands as cubic volume, book-ending the adjacent council terrace and connecting in scale to the gable across the street. The language of graduated recessed header bricks from a flush ground-floor Flemish bond brick wall is the dominant feature of the lime jointed masonry. Privacy is ensured by curved timber fencing, topped with a hairy and healthy sedum roof that hides storage for bikes and bins. The garden gate and arch of the brickwork entrance to the house display charming wit. Much is made of connections to the nearby railway arches and the former supermarket car park – an approach the architects call ‘subversive contextualism’.

The minimal-waste approach has brick ends and timber ends forming the surfaces externally and internally, giving the house a solid and grounded feel. The contract allowed the architects to self-build and appoint specialist contractors. This was a learning curve for the architects, who are relatively young and have displayed an impressive commitment to learn and do the act of building in such an architectural way. This innovation and creativity will no doubt be displayed in their own distinctive style in future projects.

  • Peckham House. End grain step detail.
    Peckham House. End grain step detail. Credit: Percy Weston
  • Peckham House. Cork roof hatch in greenhouse.
    Peckham House. Cork roof hatch in greenhouse. Credit: Jim Stephenson
  • Peckham House. Round rear door.
    Peckham House. Round rear door. Credit: Percy Weston
  • Peckham House. Building in context.
    Peckham House. Building in context. Credit: Percy Weston
  • Peckham House. Night elevation.
    Peckham House. Night elevation. Credit: Percy Weston
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The project uses low carbon materials such as Lignacite for the load-bearing inner walls, supporting the timber-framed structure of floors and staircase. The ground floor and joists throughout are made of English larch, with end grain cut-offs employed as a floor finish in the living room. The walls are lime plaster in living areas and pink thistle bond in bedrooms, all left sealed but unpainted. This aspect, combined with the exposed timber joists, lends the interiors a feeling of ‘wabi sabi’ – the Japanese concept of beauty in imperfection and impermanence – which jurors felt would weather well.

The ground-floor living areas are finished with a lime slurry, allowing the blockwork to be read with subtlety as an interior finish. The blue steel handrail of the staircase, the timber stairs, the detailing of the greenhouse as a glass rooflight, with its cork insulated retractable access way, the perforated brick parapet braced internally by slender tubular steel angled supports, are all evidence of thoughtful detailing. This is a well-considered, durable and highly imaginative design.

Percy Weston, who displayed exceptional leadership skills in organising and managing the project working alongside practice co-founder Tom Surman, has been named 2024 RIBA London Project Architect of the Year.

See the rest of the RIBA London winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here.

To see the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com.

RIBA Regional Awards 2024 sponsored by EH Smith and Autodesk

Credits

Contractor Surman Weston Construction Magic Projects (external works)

Structural engineer Structure Workshop

Environmental/M&E engineer Peter Deer Associates

Garden designer Lidia D'Angostino

 

Credit: Surman Weston
Credit: Surman Weston
Credit: Surman Weston
Credit: Surman Weston
Credit: Surman Weston
Credit: Surman Weston

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