The site is in joint ownership between two brothers. Project Orange were approached with a tripartite brief; to redevelop the rear of the site to create a new family home, to upgrade and renovate the buildings onto the street and convert them into rental apartments, and to retain and renovate the existing ground floor business use to 115, extending it into 117 (taking over a café premises on a leasehold).
The client’s aim was to minimise disruption to trade of the office during building work. The private house should offer almost 3 times the floor area of the existing, and the new apartments provide the maximum rental income achievable from the site.
Photographs by Gareth Gardner
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Despite its location immediately adjacent the park, the west-facing façade of the existing house was entirely without windows, because it was originally terraced to a four storey warehouse that occupied the park site before the war.
The new house was re-orientated towards the park, giving a greater sense of openness, space and light to the occupants. To retain a strong sense of security and domestic enclosure, the ground floor commercial storey is high, raising the first floor primary living spaces well above physical or visual intrusion.
To increase the size of the house, the whole width of the site was exploited, instating a consistent built boundary line to the park. This façade is provided with generous areas of glazing to exploit the newly revealed views and to benefit from light penetration. The depth is modulated with projecting and recessed balconies and to provide an immediate physical connection.
The glazing, together with the layering and depth of the façade, not only provides a spatial richness and light to the interior, but also considerably enhances the adjoining public space by replacing the existing blank wall. The park boundary therefore becomes a cohesive enclosure, and, in being overlooked, the park becomes a far more welcoming, vibrant place.
Inside, the living areas offer a flow of space connecting expansive areas facing the park to more private corners, and ultimately connects through to refurbished areas of the existing buildings onto the street. Levels are manipulated to define zones but physical divisions are minimised.
Through the whole a central stair relates the individual rooms above to the primary living space and a series of balconies and terraces provide external access at every opportunity. The house thus looks both inward and out, creating a private and protected world within the city, but admitting light and air and offering animation to the vicinity.
Enclosure and openness are reflected in the materials of the envelope. There are significant areas of glazing, some of which are partially screened by internal blinds or a film. These windows were designed specifically for the project, with an exposed solid oak frame to the inside, and a slick exterior treatment where the frame is covered by the external leaf of glass.
A sense of security and protection is afforded by robust copper cladding that extends to the ground floor level entrance. However, the shell does not form an impenetrable armour, and instead only partially wraps the house. The remainder reflects a softer and more domestic aesthetic, clad in hand split timber shakes.
The construction design maximizes energy efficiency in its use of specialist insulation in the wall build-up and thermally efficient glazing. Heating is by dual fuel solar / gas boiler that provides underfloor heating and contributes to hot water requirements. Building materials were selected to minimise environmental impact, including the specification of paint and manufactured board products.
Project facts and credits:
Architecture: Project Orange
Interior Designer: Project Orange
Photographer: Gareth Gardner
Total space: 245 sqm
Address: 115-117 Whitecross Street, London, EC1Y 8JQ, UK