Expected Completion: 2022
Location: Peckham, London
Project Team: Percy Weston, Tom Surman, Hilton Murrell
This unashamedly modern family house, on an exposed corner-plot near the centre of Peckham, is designed in brick to complement both the Victorian and 1970s vernacular houses surrounding it, whilst its minimal box form also acts as a counterpoint to them.
Flexibility and longevity have been key considerations in the design of the building. As a practice, we have a principle of using ‘thick’ materials: those that look as beautiful when they have aged as when new; materials that can also be changed and refreshed according to tastes or fashion. Throughout the house we have employed these principles, for instance, simple pine floorboards that can be painted, varnished, or carpeted; masonry internal walls that can be left exposed, plastered or painted.
The much-favoured Victorian terrace was a reference point during the design process and the house borrows many of the tried and tested design principles – being adaptable, light, spacious, well-proportioned and constructed with robust materials – and interpolates them all to create a practical, but modern and sustainable home.
A brick ‘header detail’ was developed for the project – the header bricks of the Flemish bond gradually step back as the building gets higher – helping the house to feel more lightweight towards the top. Hit-and-miss brickwork also forms the roof terrace balustrade and screens for the window vent panels. The composition of these elements and the shadows that the brickwork details create help give the building texture and animation within the canvas of the simple box form.
The ground floor contains the larger and more open-plan series of spaces, with generous ceiling heights and enfilade reception rooms (a plan arrangement common in Victorian terraces). These interconnected spaces can be opened up or separated off to provide a sociable and flexible ground floor arrangement. The upper floor contains the bedrooms and bathroom. And above, the house culminates with a generous roof garden that is accessed via a tropical planted greenhouse.
Planting and biodiversity are key considerations for the project. For instance, the roof terrace has been designed to hold proper depth planting beds that can hold large shrubs and small trees, whilst the hit-and-miss brickwork balustrade will allow trailing plants to cascade down the facade from the rooftop and contain bird boxes for nesting birds.
The house has been designed to use 80% less energy than Building Regulations require, utilising super thick insulation, thermal mass, photovoltaic panels, air source heating, mechanical ventilation heat recovery in the winter and passive cooling in the summer. Materials have been chosen to lessen the embodied carbon of the structure, with the use of recycled concrete blockwork, structural timber, lime mortar, and locally sourced materials including the bricks which are handmade in the UK.
Construction commenced in March 2021 and the project is scheduled to complete in Spring 2022.