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FIRST LOOK

Highgate mansion block completed by Daykin Marshall

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The London-based practice has designed a block of nine flats with a sculptural cranked form and contrasting façades

This new scheme by Daykin Marshall Studio, completed at the northern edge of the Highgate Conservation Area, looks to update the mansion block typology.

On the site of a pair of semi-detached houses, a new block of nine flats has been constructed, with eight arranged over four floors – two per floor – and a penthouse occupying the top floor.

To the street, the north-facing red brick façade echoes those of neighbouring mansion blocks, with cranked bay windows allowing oblique east and west light to the bedrooms. Living rooms are placed on the south side, where the façade is faced in white brick to blend in with adjacent 1930s blocks of flats, and deep balconies face views over a nearby golf course.

The penthouse flat is faced in anodised aluminium, designed to act as a ’crown’ to the whole and is surrounded by generous terraces.

Ngut 1374 daykinmarshall 0049

Architect’s view

Between the rush of the A1 leaving London and the quiet idyll of Highgate golf course, Daykin Marshall Studio has updated this typology of refined apartment dwelling.

A strong street façade of four storeys responds to the red brick bay windows of mansion blocks on the opposite side of the street. Patterned Flemish bond brickwork, making use of the traditional English technique of including ‘burnt’ header bricks, overlays the sculptural ‘cranked’ form. These angled reinterpretations of bay windows enliven the north-facing road frontage, allow interesting oblique views, and admit east and west light to bedroom spaces.

Acoustic double glazing reduces road noise in these rooms and a background MVHR ventilation system supplies fresh air without inhabitants having to open windows. A central recess in the facade holds the main entrance and its protective canopy with circulation spaces expressed above. The simple and efficient tenement plan arranges a spacious single-level apartment either side of the circulation at each level. A dramatic penthouse then breaks the mould and spans the entire fifth floor. This level is set back to reduce the mass of the building from the street and create a series of terraces around the best apartment. It is clad in anodised aluminium panels to form a special ‘crown’ at the top of the structure that facets in response to the brickwork below. The light-gold colour is designed to enhance and bring warmth to reflected light, even on London’s overcast days.

Ngut 1374 daykinmarshall 0020

Living spaces are located on the south side of the building to benefit from magnificent views over the golf course parkland. The south facade is finished in white brick in contrast to the street frontage. This reflects the brighter aspect enjoyed at the rear of the building and echoes the white concrete balconies which are the prominent feature on adjacent 1930s ‘liner’ housing blocks. Each apartment has a large balcony or terrace that is recessed to provide significant solar shading and reduce over-heating in summer. Filigree gold-coloured balustrades ‘stitch’ in and out of the south facade. They ‘weave’ the fabric of the penthouse into the white brickwork and add richness to each level. This facade is also angled, but more subtly, for interesting visual relief and to maximise the floor area of the balconies.

From the main street entrance one can see and walk straight through to the planted gardens at the rear. Ground floor apartments have private gardens either side of this route which opens out into communal gardens. By careful use of the sloping site, extensive covered parking is hidden from view beneath these gardens. Beyond the car park the landscape steps down in a series of terraces lined with stone gabion walls. These are planted and designed to naturalise over time to draw the greenery towards the building.

Mark Marshall, director, Daykin Marshall Studio

Dms bish 02 gf plan

Project data

Start on site January 2016
Completed June 2017
Gross internal floor area 1,295m² (9 apartments totalling 1,130m² and 375m² underground car park)
Form of contract Design & Build
Total cost Approx £3 million
Architect Daykin Marshall Studio
Client Vision Homes
Structural engineer Momentum
Services engineer Whitecode
Cost consultant Vision Homes
Building inspector NHBC
Main contractor Vision Homes
Concrete frame Modebest
Brickwork DWG Brickwork
Cladding contractor Gypcraft
Steelwork fabricator Mather & Smith
CAD software used Vectorworks
Annual CO2 dmissions 13kg/m²

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