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What Amin Taha specified on Barrett's Grove

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AJ Specification takes a look at how Amin Taha Architects built its CLT housing scheme in Stoke Newington

PROJECT DATAPLANS • SECTION • EXPLODED AXONOMETRIC • DOOR DETAILS • CLT WALL DETAIL • SAMPLES BOARD

Barrett’s Grove in London’s Stoke Newington accommodates two three-bedroom family maisonettes, three two-bedroom four person flats and a single-person studio. Set within a conservation area, it stands between a tall, Victorian buff-coloured semi-detached townhouse and an Edwardian red brick primary school. Its form echoes the slender gables of the school and standalone presence of the neighbouring villa. Retaining a simplistic profile partly generated through consultation with the school’s pupils, their understanding of building technology threw up an elementary question: should we use straw, wood or brick? Why not all three?

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is used for all wall, floor and roof superstructure and sits on a concrete and brick basement box. Internally the CLT is left exposed and finished with clear, fire-retardant varnish. Insulation, a vapour barrier and self-supporting brick rain-screen make up the exterior envelope. Acoustic layers and boards, insulation and a floating timber floor are built up above the floor superstructure and accommodate underfloor heating, power, data and water services. The ability of materials and structure to serve a number of purposes removed the need for plasterboarded walls, suspended ceilings, cornices, skirtings and finishes. While simplifying the architectonic form and allowing the exposed structure’s material qualities to drive a warm, tactile aesthetic, this strategy reduces the embodied carbon of the building, construction cost and time on site.

Amin Taha, founder, Amin Taha Architects

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Source: Tim Soar

Plans

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Section 

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Exploded axonometric

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

CLT wall detail 

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

The CLT superstructure is the primary physical element and, because of its inherent visual and tactile qualities, is left exposed to the interior. In addition to exposing its planar surface its cross-grain is also left visible in order to describe its own make-up, its structural depth and to reinforce if not reassure that the timber wall and ceiling finishes are not an applied veneer or wallpaper effect. Openings in the walls and floors are left exposed without internal reveals or architraves and window and door frames fixed onto the external face within the depth of the insulation zone.

Externally, once the appropriate depth of insulation and its vapour check are applied a decision needed to be made on the nature of the visible façade. Given the conservation area and desire by the borough’s planning officers as well as local residents to use brick, the temptation would have been to apply a half brick stretcher bond wall and tiled roof. As the brick would only need to be self-supporting, the default bond would have been stretcher, as it’s efficient, using the least number of bricks, and therefore the cheapest. However, numerous bond variations were pursued with the final design persuading both contractor and client as it lost a further 15 per cent of the material. The double stack offset bond expands the modular size of the bricks within the façade by increasing their scale and mass, giving the façade a reassuring strength and solidity at close quarters. Allowing the rain-screen to remain unchanged across all surfaces including the roof, by contrast, lightens the overall mass of the unbroken symmetrical building form.

Further details such as built-in seating, balustrades, balconies and door handles were given the opportunity of bespoke and tactile solutions that would emphasise the in-use habitation rather than the building technology.

Dale Elliott, project architect, Amin Taha Architects

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Source: Tim Soar

Door details

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Source: Tim Soar

Samples board

This project required a comprehensive understanding of the different materials involved and their structural properties as well as careful detailing, because many of the loadbearing elements are exposed. The concrete basement provides a solid foundation for the building and supports the change in level across the site. The ground floor thickness was kept to a minimum by using the internal masonry walls as loadbearing structure and leaving its soffit exposed. The superstructure is six storeys of loadbearing CLT panels, spanning up to 6m with voids for the stair and services. The roof is also solid CLT panels, carefully balanced against each other to form the open loft space. Cladding all of this is a staggered masonry façade that is decoupled from the rest of the building to allow it to expand and contract separately. Each of these materials serves a different purpose. Acting and moving in their own way but with careful detailing, together they form the seamless combination of structural form and architectural vision.

Dale Elliott, project architect, Amin Taha Architects

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

01. Cross-laminated spruce timber panels by Egoin

Structural walls, roof and floors. Protective coatings by Envirograf

www.egoin.co.uk

www.envirograf.com 

02. Three-layer spruce panel by Dold Holzwerke

Partitions, floors, cabinetry and full-height doors

www.doldholz.de 

03. Beamish Blend brick by Ibstock

Perforated brick rainscreen.

Loadbearing façade laid in open stacked stretcher bond

www.Ibstock.co.uk 

04. External metalwork by Ecore

5mm-thick galvanised steel window surrounds painted to RAL 8019 to match Velfac window frames

www.ecoreconstruction.co.uk 

05. Wicker supplied by Somerset Willow Growers and woven by Ecore

Balcony screens. Soaked willow rods woven around stainless steel lattice structure

www.willowgrowers.co.uk 

06. Internal metalwork by Ecore

Mild steel handrail to main staircase formed of equal angle with seam weld to half-round steel tube, ground and patinated. Beeswax finish

www.ecoreconstruction.co.uk

07. Rubber wall linings by Tarkett

Bathroom wall linings. Bonded internal stud walls over BAL wet room tanking system

www.tarkett.co.uk 

08. Internal door handles

Brown leather belts looped to form pull handles. Secret fixed to door panels 

09. Switches by Forbes & Lomax

Toggle switches with metal touch plate to match internal metalwork

www.forbesandlomax.com

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Barretts Grove by Amin Taha Architects

Source: Tim Soar

Project data

Start on site February 2015
Completion May 2016
Gross internal floor area 635m²
Form of contract JCT Design and Build
Construction cost £1.27 million
Construction cost per m² £1,983
Architect Amin Taha Architects
Client Cobstar Developments
Structural engineer Webb Yates
M&E consultant Syntegra
QS Amin Taha Architects
Fire engineering Optimise
Acoustic engineering Syntegra
Project manager Amin Taha Architects
CDM co-ordinator Syntegra
Approved building inspector MLM
Main contractor Ecore Construction
Annual CO2 emissions 16.84 kg/m²

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • Looking for light switches and sockets but can only see one in the pix - nonetheless a very interesting and original project!!

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