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Sandy Rendel completes mews terrace on former builders’ yard in Peckham

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The £560,000 scheme consists of two new-build homes and the extension of an adjoining restaurant

Set on a corner site on the edge of the Holly Grove Conservation Area in Peckham, the two new houses extend the rhythm of the existing terrace. At ground-floor level, the massing steps out with a masonry frame which encloses front courtyard gardens built out to the pavement line.

The main fabric of the new building is constructed from stock brickwork to match adjoining properties. Bespoke precast concrete window lintels and cills provide simple detailing while the perforated metalwork of the window ventilation panels, courtyard screens and terrace balustrade add ornamentation to the scheme.

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Internally, the two houses are simply arranged, with kitchen-dining on the ground floor looking on to courtyard gardens. The larger of the two homes, a two-bedroom dwelling, has bedrooms on the first floor and living space on the second floor accessing a roof terrace. The other, however, is flipped with ensuite bedroom on the second floor and living on the first.

Partly motivated by the close connections of all parties involved, the project aimed to animate this neglected corner of south London, as well as provide a much needed extension to a popular restaurant that sits next to the two new mews houses. Both the clients and architects live on the street and the project was built by a contractor who had previously occupied the builders’ yard – everyone involved had a detailed knowledge of the context.

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Architect’s view

The key challenge was to extract the maximum potential from this shallow, single-aspect and landlocked plot while remaining sympathetic to its context.

The design evolved as a pair of mews-type houses extending the terrace towards Bellenden Road and replicating the scale and rhythm of the adjacent street scene. This becomes less regular in style and detailing towards our plot but is characterised by pairs of either two or three-storey mirrored terraced houses.

Following extended negotiations with the local authority we were able to exploit the established massing of an existing single-storey block previously built out to the pavement line. This volume was redeployed to provide external courtyards and entrances shielded by a masonry frame and decorative metal screens.

Poor ground conditions and a tight site added to the complexity of the build and construction cost, but otherwise it comprises conventional masonry construction with timber floors and roofs. The design of bespoke precast concrete features and simple but carefully considered details maintained a low-cost approach, while retaining the architectural intent.

Joe Chilvers, project architect, Sandy Rendel Architects

231 ground floor

Client’s view

Nicky and I have lived on the street for over 20 years. We acquired the corner shop and builder’s yard around the corner from our home a year or two after moving in, with the ambition to provide a small local café for young families. The Begging Bowl restaurant nearby has grown in success along with the local street, and therefore needed to enlarge its tiny kitchen. Therefore, it was time for our builder’s yard to yield up some space. Maurice, our local builder and tenant of the yard long before we owned it, agreed that it was time and we decided to find him new premises to operate from. Sandy (our neighbour) was an obvious choice of architect, and so the brief was set.

The idea was to complete the street with something we all could feel proud to walk past every day with no flashy design shouting out, but a robust couple of mews homes for rent on a tiny plot along with a restaurant kitchen.

Just to make it all the more challenging we wanted Maurice to build himself a home. So, after some 36 months of planning and construction we now have a completed street, happy tenants, a refreshed and enlarged restaurant, and pleased local residents. We have calculated that our investment will take some 15 years to return on capital but the social capital is 100 per cent and immediate!

Guy Forrester and Nicky Chambers, local residents and tenants

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Project data

Start on site September 2017
Completion January 2019
Gross internal area 177m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 261m²
Form of contract Intermediate Building Contract with contractor’s design (JCT ICD 2016)
Construction cost £560,000
Construction cost per m² £3,160
Architect Sandy Rendel Architects
Client Guy Forrester and Nicky Chambers
Structural engineer Structure Workshop
Main contractor Total Building Services
Approved building inspector Regional Building Control
CAD software used Vectorworks

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