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‘Family Commune’ completed by Daykin Marshall Studio

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A £458,000 new-build house and maisonette in Bethnal Green provide a model for interlinked communal living

This project, commissioned by two families who wished to live communally, consists of a new-build five-bedroom house and extension to an adjacent maisonette. The two dwellings are designed to both maximise internal light and shared external space, through which they connect, while blending into and fitting with the surrounding geometries of an existing housing estate. 

Ngut 1423 daykinmarshall 0051

Ngut 1423 daykinmarshall 0051

Architect’s view

The site is in the middle of the ‘Tetris-like’ Mansford Estate constructed in the 1970s to the north of Bethnal Green Road. The homes were designed to extend the architecture of the estate as it was important these private houses were embedded into their locale, rather than standing out in an area of predominately socially rented accommodation.

The form of the new-build home is generated from a challenging set of practical conditions – rights of light issues, a large sewer running below and multiple party walls – but most importantly a desire to maximise outdoor space and internal light. From the front door there is a vista through a small external court to a fireplace in the living room beyond. The hallway is the kitchen, the heart of the home. The efficient open plan steps irregularly so that each space flows yet feels distinct from the next. An external deck links this house to the adjacent extended maisonette through the combined rear gardens. With the fence between the plots removed, kids and adults move fluidly between the houses, sharing meals and childcare.

As urban populations grow, we’ll be increasingly challenged to live communally, and in denser settings. This pair of homes could be a model for a lifestyle spent in closer proximity with shared amenity space. Despite both projects being one-offs, bespoke to their clients and designed with spirit and care, they were built to an economic budget using standard materials and construction techniques drawn from speculative housing. This approach, together with the repeatable spatial layout, means that the design could be reconfigured into multi-unit communal schemes to suit different sites.
Mark Marshall, director, Daykin Marshall Studio

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Ngut 1423 daykinmarshall 0110

Clients’ view

The homes have blurred boundaries. On special occasions, both kitchens are in action and the two tables combine. For our first Christmas, we were 30 people. There’s a flow between our homes and families – of people, toys and ingredients, helped along by Daykin Marshall’s creation. Our children test its resilience as they explore and play, adding – despite our best efforts – squiggles and dirt.

Project data 

Start on site May 2017
Completion April 2018
Gross internal floor area 205m² (new-build house 138m²)
Form of contract Traditional – JCT Minor Works 2016
Construction cost £458,000 (new-build house £360,000)
Construction cost per m2 £2,234 (new-build house £2,608)
Architect Daykin Marshall Studio
Client Private
Structural engineer Momentum Consulting Engineers
Party wall consultant Bentley Pugh & Associates
Approved building inspector BBS Building Control 
Main contractor Thornhill Shann 
CAD software used Vectorworks
Estimated annual CO2 emissions 10.75kg/m² (new-build house) 

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