Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We use cookies to personalise your experience; learn more in our Privacy and Cookie Policy. You can opt out of some cookies by adjusting your browser settings; see the cookie policy for details. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies.

Amin Taha reveals plans for 10-storey flats with load-bearing stone structure


New images have been released of proposals by Groupwork + Amin Taha for a 10-storey block of flats in Finchley Road, north London featuring a load-bearing stone stucture

Plans for the 3,000m² scheme, which was approved by Camden Council in October last year, include 22 flats, commercial space on the ground floor, and a new footpath which connects the development to the nearby Finchley Road and Frognal overground station.

Practice founder Amin Taha said: ’[The building] will be the first 10-storey, loadbearing self-finished stone structure without the need of stainless steel reinforcing threads or secondary structure, since the last stone cathedrals were erected.

Work is expected to start on site this September, with a completion date scheduled for August 2019. 

Ata 317 finchley road public footpath study

Project data 

Location 317 Finchley Road, London, NW3 6EP
Type of project Mixed use residential
Client 317 Finchley Road, C/O Harvard Knight Ltd
Architect Groupwork + Amin Taha
Landscape architect Groupwork + Amin Taha
Planning consultant DP9
Structural engineer Webb Yates Engineers
M&E consultant Webb Yates Engineers
Quantity surveyor Harvard Knight
Planning supervisor DP9
Lighting consultant Groupwork
Main contractor Tender still in Progress
Funding Private
Tender date Tender still in Progress
Start on site date Programmed for September 2017
Completion date Programmed for August 2019
Contract duration 24 Months
Gross internal floor area 3,000m²
Form of contract and/or procurement Design & Build Contract JCT
Total cost open book tender at approximately £6.5m

Ata 317 finchley road typical plan (002)

Ata 317 finchley road typical plan (002)

Source: Amin Taha

New image for the approved scheme in 317 Finchley Road by Amin Taha


Architect’s view

During the 18th century Finchley Road became one of the country’s first toll roads and over the next 150 years became built up with loadbearing red brick and stone mansion blocks, churches, banks, post offices, shopfront parades, the railway and goods yards. 317 Finchley Road sits adjacent to Finchley Road and Frognal overground station and on a former diary distribution yard, and more recently a two storey pub. Since then the immediate area has gained and intensified in use and concentration with further rail and underground stations, housing, shopping centres, the Camden Arts Centre, the Jewish Cultural Centre and a number of larger scaled post-war buildings. Over that time Finchley Road and Frognal station gradually losing its significance as a transport node and this area of Finchley Road declining to with strip clubs replacing grocery stores. More recently TFL have doubled the capacity of the station connecting it to further eastern and southern London over ground lines and enlarged the bus services for it to become a train bus interchange.

As part of the future improvement of the area the adjacent site was identified for nodal structure able to signal the interchange location from a long distance when arriving on Finchley Road while not being visible from the adjoining residential streets lying within the conservation areas.

The height is therefore limited to ten floors with retail at ground and lower ground and 22 private and affordable flats distributed above within three slender towers of varying heights. A colonnade at ground level is set back from the pavement line to expand the public realm around the station and bus stop interchange with its loadbearing structure of single piece columns and lintels rising up to support the exposed soffit timber and concrete composite floor plates above.

The proposal at Finchley Road will be the first 10-storey, loadbearing self-finished stone structure without the need of stainless steel reinforcing threads or secondary structure, since the last stone cathedrals were erected. In addition to its architectonic aesthetic, this construction approach, which also uses exposed CLT floor slabs spanning between the exoskeleton, saves around 18 per cent from cost and more again from the embodied carbon over conventional construction methods.

Site plan 1

Site plan 1




Readers' comments (6)

  • Blimey, what a horrible protrusion. Still, 18% cheaper to build in stone, and the words 'architectonic aesthetic' covers a lot of sins. Getting away with wedging in 10-storey block between five-storey structures because the plot was "identified for nodal structure able to signal the interchange location," is a wonderful excuse.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Dear Peter,

    As a news item, not an in-depth study, it isn't possible to publish the full design and access statement within which you'd find an approval had already been gained for a taller building than its neighbours but which didn't break its mass on the skyline nor contribute to the public realm adjacent to the station. It also illustrates the town planning rationale with further photos highlighting larger structures and specifically a tower further up the street. It currently acts as a visual 'node' within the mental map of the area, but really leading the eye and pedestrian to nowhere. Too infrequently do we now build church spires, grander bank and institutional buildings on our high streets. When the opportunity for improving the roofline and public realm does arise it is left for architects to persuade their clients and planning departments to contribute. It wouldn't make sense on the adjacent site southward but perhaps northward of the rail line and entrance. As the site does sit adjacent to the station bridge entrance it provides such an opportunity for enlargement of the usable public space which would otherwise have been retained for private rentable retail area. With some more efficient working of the floor plans, the building's bulk/line can also be broken up into three slender parts of varying heights which must be better than one large inefficient mass. Together these aim to combine a client's needs with those of the broader urban realm.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • '18% cheaper to build in stone' is a real eye-catcher, and it would be instructive to know the intended source and type of stone.
    'Self-finished' clearly encompasses a good deal of carved/etched decorative relief, and more information on how this will be achieved would be welcome.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Cost + sustainability - as a control we have to use the contractor who already priced not too high not too low. Ask what would the extra or reduced cost be if instead we had; steel or concrete superstructure, associated intermediate supporting sub-structure per floor, fire proofing that, insulatimgbit, waterproofing it, adding stainless steel support rails, dressing stone tiles with their counter brackets, the time and specialist trades involved in each against simply extracting a stone block, cuttymgbit to an engineered size, transporting and erecting it on site. In short it's quicker, cheaper and in turn lowers the embodied energy of the buildings materials and its construction. This approach is followed through internally with the eliminating the need for further insulation and plasterboard lining to walls and indeed ceilings. We do this because we believe the simpler architectonic aesthetic celebrates the inherent quality of each of the limited pallet of materials. It's also much more enjoyable to design and draw but does require full attendance of structural, m&e, fire, sustainability engineers with an approved inspector as well as regular cost checks with specialist suppliers and contractors before you ask a QS to integrate it into their cost plan book.

    Finishes - Some decorative carving has been agreed with councillors at ground level next to the new public footpath. With areas vanishing and others climbing upward like ivy, otherwise the stone is as it comes split from the quarry bed. Known as Ambrato initially like all stone seams across Europe they don't respect borders and are quarried elswhere with a different name bit perhaps with a slightly different colour mixture within the seam, we are yet to decide with client and planners.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Dear Amin - interested to know how you are dealing with disproportionate collapse? Thanks

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Dear Chris,

    It's a very good and the first question we asked as its the reason why as a whole we stopped using trabeated structures. Thankfully we have Webb Yates as structural engineers, so please allow them the credit. At the rear of every column and lintel mortared joint is a pocket within which the male section of the steel connecting boss is bedded. It in turn is bolted to its female section with a solid nylon bar for thermal isolation. The female section is cast into the concrete slab and threaded into its reinforcement or where CLT is used onto an edge plate spanning multiple column points. Which, ultimately for the purposes of disproportionate collapse is specified and strengthened to allow the slab to span across potential gaps in the column grid should they be knocked out. Columns and lintels are sized after a four point load test of the particular quarry's stone. If found under requirement by a percentage the stone sizes are increased accordingly. Inevitably, their sizes are larger than steel or reinforced concrete but as per the previous comment and reply the advantages are if you like multivalent, aesthetic, cost, structural and somewhere towards as low a carbon footprint as possible when we need to build. Where architecture is an expression of allowing a material or two to perform a number of these purposes not just a two dimension facade behind which engineers and the QS drive structure, thermal performance with the architect if fortunate reappearing internally to specify plasterboard and floor finish. That isn't meant to come across as proselytising just an explaination how with some good consultants we work to simplify material details so they can in combination give more legible meaning.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs

Discover architecture career opportunities. Search and apply online for your dream job.
Find out more