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THE BROOKLANDS Architect: Mark Fairhurst Architecture & Design Housebuilder: Q Developments The essence of a successful small housing development is simplicity - naturally lit, easy to furnish rectangular spaces where every square metre justifies its cost.

The Brooklands, a mews development of six townhouses in Marylebone, London, illustrates this precept.

In another example of closely correlated decision making, the judges praised the bright, generously proportioned living spaces that belie the tightness of the building plot. Each five-storey property has five bedrooms, a double-height reception room, a groundoor garage and a lower-ground-oor cinema.

The development sits at the heart of Dorset Square Conservation Area. Ultra-contemporary in style, The Brooklands blends sympathetically with its Georgian neighbours - notably the adjacent Grade II-listed Chagford House. This was crucial to securing City of Westminster building consent.

Timber cladding defines the front elevation, comprising regimented garage and street entrance doors with punctured firstfloor balconies. The judges applauded the chic use of weatherboarding, noting that too few developers have the courage to challenge the tyranny of brick. By contrast, the exuberance of internal timber oors, solid-oak stair risers and walnut veneers was deemed slightly de trop. That said, not an inch of laminate is to be seen - so be thankful for small mercies.

Clever exploitation of sunlight alone guaranteed this design a prize. A two-storey angled roof maintains daylight in neighbouring properties while a series of atelier skylights - most designers would have compromised with Velux windows, said the judges - maximises the sunshine in living areas and bedrooms.

Terraces and verandas punctured in the rear rendered elevation create further suntraps.

These exible inner-city houses were voted a robust indicator of rising standards in small housing developments. This concept, said the judges, was worthy of an award twice over.

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