On a site in Camden in north London, Paul McAneary Architects was commissioned to design a new development that could function as either apartments or offices. Bounded by a train track, public park, garage and road, the compact footprint of the site was extremely constrained. Overlooking a busy railway line, it was also subject to noise pollution from passing high-speed trains and the impact of solar gain.
The project encompassed a succession of iterations. Originally it was conceived as an office development, generating a particular visual language of a sleek, double-layered glass skin and generic, sub-divisable floor plates. This initial design was aimed at maximising the size of floor plates through a sharply angular profile dramatically cantilevering out over the railway line. It was subsequently reworked as a residential development, reflected in a cellular plan form without the cantilevered element and a more modelled facade treatment.
Ultimately, after this process of exploration, it was decided to develop an iteration that would be capable of accommodating both commercial and residential use, thus optimising flexibility and sustainability for the client. The brief originally stipulated a total of five flats but through judicious planning, a total of eight apartments is integrated within the five storey block. The cantilevered element is also reprised, creating a bold new landmark for the locale.
The empty site is currently used as a car park, a function which is maintained in the final design with the addition of parking space to the rear of the site. An unusual dual facade creates a visually striking and ecologically-responsive solution to the problem of solar gain and noise pollution. Specially designed insulated cladding panels faced with reconstituted stone provide a foil to sleek mirrored glazing on the inclined facade over the train tracks. The cantilevered structure combined with the building’s advanced energy-saving credentials generates the concept of ‘Eco-Lever’.
Though the site was one of the most restrictive Paul McAneary Architects has worked on, its constraints have been overcome and even turned to advantage. The surrounding community, including existing garden users, the local school and neighbouring businesses, was consulted about the scope of the development. As a result of their feedback, a living green wall is integrated around the base of the building where it meets the public garden, enhancing and enlivening the space for users. [By Catherine Slessor*]
Contract Value £5M
Location Camden, London
Client HM Developments
Design Team Paul McAneary Architects
Design Service From design concept to detailed design, interior design, lighting design, glazing design, structural design, 3D visualisation