Regeneration and conservation, industrial heritage, village vernacular and a new community space have passed successfully over planning officers’ desks this week
There’s referencing the past in this week’s consents – Hopkins Architects intoning a vast academic quad at Haileybury school for its new Sci-Tech cloistered cluster, Studio Egret West drawing from industrial heritage in a huge Camden scheme, and Office S&M picking up village vernacular for a new short terrace. Meanwhile, Studio Dera creates something completely new in north London in its Higham Hill Hub, a new community space and nursery.
An independent boarding school, which already luxuriates in 500 acres of Humphrey Repton landscape and a selection of handsome architecture including a vast 1806 quad, adds Hopkins Architects to its collections with a new science and technology cluster. Central to the scheme is a new quadrangle, referencing the school’s larger courtyard, sitting behind an existing Herbert Baker neoclassical science building, set around with new volumes for teaching design technology, research and a three-floor suite of teaching spaces for biology and computational science.
Wrapping the new courtyard, and offering a passage between the new blocks, is a cloister which ties together disparate architectures and roots the scheme as much in circulation and masterplanning as in the architecture of any single building. This is exemplified by a new opening to the rear elevation of the Baker building, allowing it to act as the formal entrance to the Sci-Tech campus, and opening up centrally onto the cloistered quad.
There is some demolition within the scheme. An existing single-story biology building clad in white panels visually jars with the site and has a steel structure which is not adaptable to new uses; the new research block – formed of a brickwork complementing the neighbouring Baker building – will take its place. The angular form of the existing design technology block will be partially demolished, though its steel frame will be retained to directly address the new quad. With internal reconfiguration, its sculptural roof over a large workshop space will remain, the new cloister roof connecting to existing fabric. All new construction will be formed of a CLT structure, with green roofs and ground source heat pumps and natural ventilation.
Studio Egret West has received outline planning permission for a radical overhaul of a vast London scheme which is set to transform an irregularly shaped site into a mixed-use scheme of housing, health, residential and work, including both office and – unusually for a central London development – industrial space. Industry has been at the core of the site for generations, which was for many years the Midland Railways engine depot. For 57 years it has been wholly owned by engineering and construction company J Murphy & Sons Ltd, which plans to keep its headquarters within the masterplan.
Due to its single owner and industrial use, the site has been closed off from the surrounding urban fabric. To connect the masterplan into the neighbouring Camden streets the architect proposes a ‘Heath Line’ through the site as a green spine, extending the southern tip of Hampstead Heath through to the Kentish Town Forum with a sequence of greened and landscaped zones. A broader landscaping strategy, designed in-house by Studio Egret West, also introduces SuDS raingardens and perennial, heath and tree planting – as well as living roofs of acid grassland and heathland over most of the new buildings. Those new buildings comprise several blocks of housing, containing 750 units with 35% designated ‘affordable, new light industrial and factory blocks of up to eight storeys, office and leisure uses, and 2,300m² of privately owned public space.
Over the coming months the numerous local interested parties – including vocal neighbourhood groups who have already responded in choreographed volume against these outline plans – will now be consulted, with a view to achieving full planning consent later this year. In a post-industrial urban landscape of gentrification and changing land-use, cities still require industrial, manufacturing and logistics uses in accessible and central areas, and this scheme will be interesting to watch as it progresses through planning to see how a central city site can incorporate such uses alongside housing, public access, and leisure.
Higham Hill Hub
Throughout Covid, the importance of green spaces and community has been important to many. Higham Hill Hub, which currently operates from two portacabins, has been no exception, and over the pandemic period Studio Dera has helped with the design of a range of temporary additions, including a space for bike mechanics, a Covid-safe space which has been used for film screenings, exercise classes, and film shoots. Having engaged with the local community for the last five years, the architect has been supported by these temporary projects in understanding the needs of the place and users ahead of this now successful longer-term solution.
The club offers classes, events, dance classes, art and horticulture sessions for all generations, and their offer will be supported by the new scheme comprised of two main single-storey buildings separated by a community courtyard. The main hub will contain a 152m² hall and small multi-use event space. The space can intelligently be subdivided, offering various uses to run concurrently or simply open up/reduce the scale of the spaces to suit varying community uses or needs of privacy.
Each block has its own identity, the nursery with playful ocular lights and thehall with large rooftop massing and windows on each side, bringing in rich top-light as well as allowing used air to escape, supporting the passive stack ventilation strategy. Both blocks are formed of a timber frame and CLT superstructure over limecrete slab, with hempcrete walls. Adding to the play between the two masses, the hall building is left with the natural hempcrete finish, while the nursery is clad with timber shingles.
Studio Dera is a new practice formed by Marcel Rahm and Max Dewdney, two architects who have worked together over two decades, sharing a passion in holistic, collaborative approaches to design. This first project sets out their ideals not only in engaged design, but also towards a genuinely sustainable use of material and form.
Red Cow Terrace
The classic terrace typology is coming to the village of Wheathampstead, near St Albans, although with an S&M twist. Addressing The Hill, the main road into the village from St Albans, is a run of ten locally listed terrace cottages, one of which has a remarkably large back garden. That overgrown 710m² of land behind the southernmost cottage in the row will be turned into a new three-house terrace, running perpendicular to the historic neighbours.
A proposal for four terraced houses for the site had been refused in 1997, and this helped inform Office S&M as to what may be permissible this time; its scheme offers not only one fewer units but architecture that is less tall, less obtrusive, of a higher design specification and more generous internally. Each of the terraced units is at least 130m² internally, with a layout using sliding doors to provide flexibility and variety of user needs. A kitchen/dining and separate utlility room occupy the ground level; the first floor holds a large living room with partitioned office, and three bedrooms are located on the top level. Each floor has a bathroom, that on the ground floor being an accessible shower.
Externally, too, each of the homes has a garden of more than 70m², carving three new external spaces from what had been just one – including parking for two cars each. The new terrace will be unashamedly contemporary in style, though drawing from both the typology and aesthetic of the mid-18th century cottages and more recent architecture across the village. This can be seen in the brick plinth at ground level, a device drawn from other recent village developments, and the timber cladding above, which references a range of local buildings including Wheathampstead’s Corn Mill. Hugh McEwan, partner at Office S&M, describes it as a ‘careful re-reading of the characterful historic buildings from around the site’. This is picked up in the three columns along the terrace, each home with a unique form – square, zigzag, and circle – playfully drawing from forms within buildings around the village.