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FIRST LOOK

Morris+Company completes PegasusLife scheme in Hampstead

  • 4 Comments

The 8,700m² Belle Vue north-London housing for later-living features modulated brickwork on its façade, graduating upwards both in colour and texture

Billed as a ‘holistic retirement community’ for later-living specialist developer PegasusLife, Morris+Company’s 59-home project in the heart of Hampstead includes a health and wellbeing facility along with shared communal spaces including a restaurant and café, a library, activity rooms and lounges.

The north London housing straddles multiple conservation areas and sits between the ‘large-scale’ Royal Free Hospital to the north and east and smaller-scale buildings to the south and west, including the Rosary Roman Catholic School. The development sit within a 0.28ha ‘pocket’ site sandwiched between the Royal Free Hospital and Havistock Hill.

It is 10 storeys at its highest, dipping down to four, and draws inspiration from the forms, styles and materials, characteristic of buildings within the neighbouring conservation areas.

The 59 apartments range from 54m² one-bed units to 129m² two-bed units. Each home has access to communal gardens and roof terraces, while each individual private living space opens up on to a personal loggia. The arrangement of every dwelling creates dual aspect views.

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To support later living, each apartment is easily adaptable to meet accessibility needs.

The scheme was conceived as a dense series of four blocks, square in plan, each one responding to the adjacent conditions in scale, height and position. They are staggered to create courtyards, gardens and terraces.

The buildings are clad in a brick skin which subtly changes in tone and texture as the blocks increase in height, emulating the warm, red brickwork of Victorian architecture, common in Hampstead. At the base of each building, bricks are laid at 10-degree angles to create a difference in texture and cast shadows across the bottom of each façade and unify the staggered blocks.

Chamfered brick lintels characterise the ‘mid-zone’ band of the buildings, while at higher levels, the bricks have been whitewashed and set within a light cream mortar. 

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Each block contains three homes per level, with every flat laid out in a position that ensures the walk from entrance lobby to private front door is an uplifting journey in itself through the communal spaces that intersperse the dwellings.

The landscape design also features a new entrance court facing the main building entrance from Rowland Hill Street, with communal gardens to the rear of the main building. The blocks also integrate a series of roof terraces.

The interiors of the scheme were completed by Woods Bagot and ArchitecturePLB.

Morris+Company won the go-ahead for the scheme back in 2015. It follows on from the practice’s Wildernesse Estate mews and restaurant near Sevenoaks, also designed for PegasusLife, completed at the end of last year. 

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Architect’s view

The project is a dense quartet of buildings, arranged to create a sequence of courtyards, gardens and terraces. Occupying a pocket of land between the Royal Free Hospital and Havistock Hill, the project draws from the surrounding context to serve as a point of transition, negotiating issues of heritage, planning, townscape and topography. Several adjacent conservation areas are characterised by 19th-century brick residential and civic architecture and are rich in texture and detail while the hospital dominates the area serving as an anomaly in material and form, but most obviously height. Set within this complex context, the project reflects upon the heritage and contrasts of scale to create a project with a strong form and identity but also the intimacy of the human scale. As a consequence, this sequence (ranging from four storeys at its lowest point, to ten storeys at its highest), is finished in a brick skin which modulates in tone and texture as the blocks increase in height, as well as mediating between the varying mass and topography of the surrounding cityscape.

The façade itself draws from the locality in colour and detail. The base is richly textured and dense, while chamfers are increasingly introduced around windows at the upper levels to promote wider views and encourage light into and across the façade. Simple filigree metalwork is used for the balustrades and, at every level, a thin band of precast concrete unifies the composition and complements the horizontality of adjacent properties.

The arrangement of each of the homes within the blocks ensures dual aspect views across the neighbourhood and the city beyond. This abundance of outlook is achieved through a staggered plan, which also delineates between the public-facing and communal amenities, drawing the public in while also ensuring adequate security for residents. Deep inset corner balconies serve to break down the mass and allow for increased privacy, and these deep reveals provide a lasting visual identity when viewed from afar.

Joe Morris, founding director, Morris+Company

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Client’s view

Belle Vue by PegasusLife is designed to be a place where socialising, exploring creativity and nurturing wellbeing in later life is effortless. Downsizing can be a big step and so we have strived to create a flexible living environment where owners can maintain their current lifestyles and achieve their future ambitions without compromising on their quality of life.

Built with reclaimed French brick that changes from pink to orange with the sun throughout the day, Belle Vue offers sleek, modern homes and communal features akin to boutique hotels. Carefully designed for over 60s, each of the 59 apartments at Belle Vue has a spacious master bedroom with a separate dressing area and ensuite bathroom. A modern kitchen with adjoining utility space and dining area has ample room for entertaining.

Higher ceilings and light, airy interiors promote a feeling of comfort and relaxation while the layout allows owners to move around freely, even if they develop mobility issues. The contemporary finishes enable owners to take advantage of mod-cons while still providing a canvas against which antique Chesterfield sofas or treasured memories can be displayed. Most apartments are dual aspect, and all have their own outside space providing the option to welcome the outside in.

The landscaped courtyard, spacious communal lounge, artisan café and impressive roof terraces all maximise the opportunity for social interaction, which is one of PegasusLife’s eight pillars of wellness. There are many opportunities for daily communication between neighbours without any loss of privacy. For example, the wider-than-average hallways and shared spaces have been specifically designed for impromptu chatting and forming new friendships.

Khalil Rehman, design manager, PegasusLife

03 ground floor plan

Project data

Start on site May 2016
Completion date April 2019
Gross internal floor area 5,700m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 8,700m²
Form of contract or procurement route Construction management; Design and Build (interiors only)
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Morris+Company
Executive architect (interiors only) ArchitecturePLB
Client PegasusLife
Structural engineer Elliott Wood
Environmental engineer Max Fordham
M&E consultant Max Fordham
Quantity surveyor Deloitte
Planning consultant Tibbaulds Planning
Façade consultant EOC
Interior design Woods Bagot, ArchitecturePLB
Construction manager Rise
Landscape consultant Camlins
Acoustic consultant Max Fordham
Main contractor ISG
CAD software used MicroStation

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  • 4 Comments

Readers' comments (4)

  • Lovely, lovely stuff.

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  • Twice in the article (once in the main body and again in the 'Architect's View') it is noted that the arrangement of the floor plans ensures dual aspect views from each apartment. Only the 'Client's View' corrects this by noting that most apartments have dual aspect views.

    It's clear from a brief glance at the floor plans including in the article that two of the apartments on each of the levels shown are single aspect. If it were limited to the main body of the article you might say this was shoddy journalism but for the architect to repeat this claim seems borderline dishonest.

    This is aside from the claim that the (mostly landlocked corridors) 'ensure the walk from entrance lobby to private front door is an uplifting journey in itself'. Without any images of these spaces we can't disagree entirely but this paragraph smacks of marketing spiel in what feels like an article put together from bits of marketing material.

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  • Industry Professional

    "Dual aspect" = You can look UP and you can look DOWN :-)

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  • Industry Professional

    Extremely long dead end corridors - and just one staircase!

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