Vivian Chan, director of Studio Verve Architects, gives us three of her specification favourites

Himley Ebony Black Bricks

For our Domino Houses in Bounds Green, north London, we wanted a robust and cost effective material for a monolithic black envelope combined with a curving green roof and domino language of circular porthole windows. The dominant ebony black bricks within the undulating facades lent an amazing sculptural quality to the series of houses. We had extensive meetings with Ibstock technical representatives and the builders along with 3D modelling and 1:1 onsite mock-ups. Normal bricks were used as far as possible with the rare exception of negotiating tight curved corners.

Prefab curved concrete panels

We chose concrete as a primary material for the curved walls of our Redchurch Loft in Shoreditch to maintain the industrial aesthetic. To meet structural weight constraints, we worked with Mass Concrete to come up with 18mm concrete panels prefabricated in its factory in Poole. These were poured into skilfully made curved formwork. An extensive finishing process of water-curing and polishing produced hand-crafted individual pieces. A tough stain-resistant sealant ensures the panels remain robust despite retaining the pockmarks of naturally poured concrete.

Ipe fin walls

We developed an interior language of hardwood fin walls for both aesthetic and acoustic reasons at our Bow Quarters warehouse duplex in London. We chose Ipe as it was hardy and warm in its natural colour and experimented with spacing and dimensions to accommodate ‘hidden’ doors. The fins were secret fixed to a marine plywood base. We used them in the lobby of our Print House development in Clerkenwell and later as exterior cladding on our Narrow Lane farmhouse in Ormskirk, with birch ply as a substrate and the Ipe stained with Osmo decking oil to avoid it weathering into silver-grey.