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FIRST LOOK

Emerging practice Cuozzo Fleming completes Hackney mixed-use end-of-terrace scheme

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At the end of Columbia Road, two commercial units at ground level and two flats above feature varied brick detailing and irregular windows

The cranked-plan scheme, which resolves an awkward end-of-terrace site, was originally developed and taken to Stage 2 and planning by Edward McCann Architecture.

Structurally, the new building is steel-framed with a reinforced concrete basement level. The frame is wrapped in a highly insulated cavity wall with a full brick outer skin, with the building designed to attain 35 per cent carbon reduction beyond Part L of the Building Regulations.

The project consists of of two residential units (accessed via the quieter Columbia Road behind two commercial units), an office to the rear and a shop unit facing the busy high street of Hackney Road, bordered on its detached side by a high-use cycle lane.

312hr 4

The upper floors are split into two apartments, one at first-floor level and a duplex on the second and third floors. Both apartments are triple-aspect, with bedrooms facing towards Hackney Road, and living areas and associated roof terraces to the south, overlooking Ion Square Gardens.

312hr 22

Architect’s view

Cuozzo Fleming was commissioned post-planning for the delivery of a replacement building on the site. While developing the detailed design we took the opportunity to reappraise the project, reviewing improvements in layout, design, material choice and alterations to the fabric in order to ameliorate the appearance of the building and better integrate it within its context. The building as designed at planning had a bold aesthetic but as such lacked awareness of its context; we hoped to change this.

A new planning application was not feasible within the client’s timeframe so we ensured that all changes could be dealt with via the discharge of planning conditions or concurrent applications for minor alterations to the approval.

The previously approved brick was a mass-produced red stock that would have been jarring next to its surrounding yellow stock counterparts. Considerable time was spent reviewing alternatives before settling on a VandeMoortel yellow stock. The handmade manufacturing imparts imperfections both in its size and appearance. Its dark, honey-like colour gives the impression of age, blending with the weathered and dirty yellow stocks of the surrounding buildings. The building sits comfortably next to its neighbours yet is unashamedly contemporary.

One of the many other alterations to the design was a reappraisal of how the windows were detailed. Gone were the floor-to-floor, frameless windows flush with the façade, more akin to an office than a home. Instead, deep-set framed windows were introduced with a distinct break between floors. This helped give depth and character while decluttering the façade.

The deep window reveals with brick-faced soffits give the impression of a thick monolithic slab with deep cuts to form large-format window openings. The deep reveals cast shadows and give the façade a rich depth, creating a sense of weight, solidity and significance.

Flush-struck pointing running in bands along each floor level, sawtooth brickwork at the apex of the gable and a slight cantilever at first floor all add to this strong, contemporary form, yet all gestures are read discretely, due to the soft tones and subtle detailing.

The commercial units at ground floor are faced in render colour-matched to the window frames to minimise the material palette and create a sophisticated two-tone envelope.

The shopfront is constructed and finished in timber, and identifies as distinctly separate from the main body of the building. The fascia is finished in hit-and-miss vertical charred timber battens to maintain a simple, natural palette. Structurally, the shopfront is constructed from Douglas Fir posts and beams, which are expressed internally. The timber structure has been detailed to be completely free of exposed fixings, with the exception of the bespoke blackened steel feet that connects the timber posts with the exposed concrete floor. The shop floor is constructed from large inset cast pavement lights to maximise light into the basement accommodation below.

Jenny Fleming and Alessio Cuozzo, Cuozzo Fleming

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Project data

Start on site December 2017
Completion August 2019
Gross internal floor area 288m2
Gross (internal + external) floor area 349m2
Form of contract or procurement route JCT SBC/XQ
Construction cost £960,000
Construction cost per m2 £2,750
Architect Cuozzo Fleming
Client MASCH Developments
Structural engineer Hardman Structural Engineers
M&E consultant Cundall
Party wall surveyor Fareed Fetto & Co 
CDM coordinator Fareed Fetto & Co
Approved building inspector Building Control Approval Ltd
Main contractor C&M Builders
CAD software used Vectorworks

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