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Working Detail: Villiers Road Studios, London, by Peter Barber Architects

[WORKING DETAIL] Wall section

Villiers Road Studios − The project’s key spatial move was to ‘notch’ the profile of the building form in order to provide dual-aspect rooms and a private courtyard for each unit, and to reduce the impact of the massing on neighbouring houses to the rear. The aesthetic of the architecture is that of solidity; windows and courtyards are cut into, punched out of, or eroded from a solid form.

The selection of the two materials, white render and timber, and where they were applied was driven by practical considerations (white render bounces light around the courtyards; curved timber roofs improve the view from houses to the rear) and also aesthetic considerations. The challenge of the detailing was to introduce the timber rainscreen cladding without confusing the solid aesthetic. We saw the timber as a crust on the solid that was cut into in order to form the courtyard notches. To achieve this effect, it was essential for the timber skin to be simply detailed, with no cappings, edge trims or copings.

The resolution of this detail is a testament to the main contractor, Quinn London. The contractor embraced this challenge with creativity and craft; other design and build contractors might have chosen to cover the junction with cappings to minimise the risk of sloppy workmanship. Instead, the insulated acrylic render system carries over the parapet, with a 20° fall towards the roof that provides a capping-free, clean edge to the parapet.

The warm-deck roof’s single-ply membrane overlaps the return of the rendered parapet to form a continuous waterproof surface. The timber boarding is then fixed down to timber bearers lying on the surface of the curved roof, which is fixed through to the primary structure at the top of the roof’s pitch. The contractor cut the edge of the timber boards on site after fixing to the bearers to ensure the timber edge mirrored the rendered edge 5mm below.

Phil Hamilton, associate director, Peter Barber Architects

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