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Groves Natcheva completes two infill housing schemes

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The 18 brick-clad homes are designed to unlock the potential of two previously derelict plots in south London

The two infill sites in Forest Hill – Wastdale Road and Heath Road – had previously housed a community centre and a private members’ club. Both schemes aim to preserve a domestic scale appropriate to their residential context as well as incorporating generous communal space.

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All the dwellings were built using a prefabricated insulated panel system and are clad with the same brick. Moving the primary elevation of the Wastdale Road scheme back from the boundary has allowed the front façade of the members’ club to remain unchanged.

In comparison, Heath Road has been divided into a front and back development, the houses to the north designed with distinctively curved and massed rear elevations.

Architect’s view

Bernard Construction, with who we have worked with for many years, approached us to work on this project. Both sites, consisting of derelict buildings with a chequered planning history, were for sale.

After careful consideration of the history and condition of the sites, we advised our client that there was a way to unlock the potential by first understanding the social and urban context, and then using architecture as a mediator in the very conflict which had left both sites disused for many years.

The plot on Wastdale Road was a private members’ club bordering a public footpath, which was a heavily used shortcut through the urban block. The council’s request for the retention of the front façade had become an insurmountable point of conflict. Our proposal resolved all three points of conflict. All other architectural decisions of massing, bulk, scale and materiality followed through from the primary resolution of the social and urban questions.

The plot on Heath Road was a community centre in the middle of a residential street. Similarly, here the critical thinking was related to the construction of a case to the council to present the greater need for housing and the outdated nature of this community centre.

Both schemes were designed and built using a prefabricated SIP panel system with brick cladding. The intention was to lead by example and show how a simple and ordered design, built with care, can make a difference.

Murray Groves and Adriana Natcheva, directors, Groves Natcheva Architects

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Project data

Start on site Wastdale Road: April 2016; Heath Road: October 2016
Completion Wastdale Road: October 2017; Heath Road: April 2018
Gross internal floor area 610m² (Wastdale Road); 674m² (Heath Road)
Form of contract Design & Build
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Groves Natcheva Architects
Client and main contractor Bernard Construction
Structural engineer Point 1 Building Systems
M&E consultant Element Sustainability
QS Aedif Projects
Planning consultant Rapleys
Approved building inspector Butler & Young
CAD software used MicroStation

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