6 March 2012

ATA completes first houses at West Hendon

Family houses designed by Anne Thorne Architects LLP for client Barratt Metropolitan LLP are the first to be completed on the large West Hendon regeneration scheme, which is a partnership project between Metropolitan Housing Partnership, Barratt Homes and the London Borough of Barnet.

The eight houses on the pilot scheme - a terrace on Sorrel Mead and a semi- detached pair on Cool Oak Lane, are off the West Hendon Broadway and a 10-minute walk from theWelsh Harp reservoir, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Popular memory recalls sailing and boating on the reservoir and the triangular geometry of gables and bay windows on the houses are a visual play on that history. The houses are a mixture of two and three storey for 5-7 persons.

The pilot houses were the first to be designed in detail and were developed through a series of workshops with residents led by ATA. Resident participation in the design process was used as a creative force with a focus on innovative low energy design. Some strong features of the scheme came from these discussions: residents wanted masonry houses using the red brick found locally, render was used to emphasis individual houses and connecting to the Broadway was important. Internally, residents chose kitchens overlooking the street over other alternatives, while double doors from dining to living room allow flexibility for open plan living.

Attention to detail internally has created well lit spaces that feel generous by using the roof space in bedrooms and stair and bring light through rooflights into the middle of the house. Externally the variation in height and massing and the repetitive triangular geometry affords a sense of rhythm and contrast to the surrounding Estate.

Designed with a‘whole house fabric first’ approach to low energy design the houses’ insulation levels are 35% above Building Regulation requirements, with high performance windows and good air tightness. High efficiency services include Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery and solar thermal hot water. Construction detailing paid close attention to thermal bridging to reduce heat loss and low water use fittings were installed.

The site has a dramatic setting on the slope down to the reservoir and residents who were used to views out over the water were keen to be able to still havea view.Thus the houses step down the street, 3-story houses at the higher end, all with south facing bay windows.The new street, Sorrell Mead, means a direct pedestrian connection to the Broadway, while the two houses on Cool Oak Lane follow their semi-detached neighbours in having a wider and shallower plan and a symmetrical roof geometry,reinforcing the street pattern running down towards the reservoir. Houses are entered from the street, with windows to both hall and kitchen overlooking the front. Street detailing is robust and more importantly the street is overlooked. Houses have small front gardens and larger rear gardens with both patio and grass.

The use of masonry and heavyweight construction allowed ATA to explore high thermal mass construction.This is one of the first schemes to use 225mm fully filled cavities, modifying traditional construction to achieve a highly insulated thermal envelope.

High performance MVHR is designed to improve air quality in the winter, so that residents have no need to open windows when it is cold outside. South roofs provide an opportunity for solar panels.

The houses easily exceed Code for Sustainable Homes level 3, narrowly missing level 4, exceeding Building Regulations Part L by 37%.They are also designed to Lifetime Homes standards and Secured by Design.

The saw toothed elevation is new to West Hendon, even though the street gable is a common local vernacular. Materials are traditional - brick,lime mortar,timber windows, clay pantiles, render - but the play of colours, textures and shapes is surprising in this context. A modest scale development, a pocket of confidence that promises the positive change ahead.

Client: Barratt Metropolitan LLP

Architect: Anne Thorne Architects LLP
Structural Engineers: Colin Toms & Partners
Services Engineers: Scott Wilson
Landscape: Fabrik
Main Contractor: Barratt West London
Photography: Ioana Marinescu

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