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RCKa wins go-ahead to convert Victorian school into houses

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RCKa has won approval to convert an empty Victorian school hall in north London into five houses

The 1,280m² scheme at 179 Hornsey Road will also add a new four-storey block, housing four flats, to the southern end of the site which was once a construction skills centre. An existing building at the northern end of the plot will remain as community use.

After landowner Volunteering Matters consolidated its facilities within other premises elsewhere in London, the late-19th-century Arts and Crafts-style school became redundant. 

The proposed new houses will occupy the existing hall, with front doors added at the rear of the block facing on to a new ‘planted street’.

According to the practice, all the added elements will be ‘clad in coloured terracotta tiles to contrast with the red Victorian brick and to emphasise the distinction between old and new’.

Work is expected to start on site next year.

The architect’s view

We worked closely with Islington’s planning and conservation team  to develop a proposal that delivers a viable number of high-quality new homes but is at the same time respectful of the existing buildings which, along with the Grade II-listed Hornsey Road Baths and Montem Primary School opposite, form a nucleus of attractive public buildings within a long, busy stretch of road.

An existing scalloped wall, facing Hornsey Road, is retained and provides defensible space for the living spaces of the new houses, which extend across the whole of the ground floor of the existing building. Behind this wall is a ‘planted street’ providing access to each of the front doors to the new houses. Each house has a private west-facing garden to the rear, and all nine homes have access to a shared garden located between the new and existing buildings.

New floors containing bedrooms and bathrooms are set back from the road, maintaining the existing roofline of the school hall. A series of projecting gables conceal private terraces accessible from second-floor bedrooms.

Externally the new elements are clad in coloured terracotta tiles to contrast with the red Victorian brick and to emphasise the distinction between old and new. The new apartment building turns through ninety degrees from the street to form a bookend to the existing terrace.

Overall this scheme will bring a locally important landmark building back into sustainable long-term use while providing nine attractive new homes on an underdeveloped, accessible site.

179 hornsey road rcka existing building

Existing building

Existing building

Project Data

Client Volunteering Matters
Site address 179 Hornsey Road, London N7 6RA
Local planning authority London Borough of Islington
Site area 0.12ha
Building area (Internal) 1,280m² (overall); 1,135m² (residential)
Accommodation: 4 x two bedroom, 4 person flats; 5 x three bedroom, 5 person houses; D1 community space
Architect RCKa
Design Team (RCKa) Tim Riley, Anthony Staples, Christopher Permain, Chris Scarffe
Planning/heritage consultant Tibbalds
Project management Gerald Eve
Ecological consultant Brindle & Green
Environmental / Sustainability Consultant XC02
Structural engineer Conisbee
Cost consultant Measur
Viability consultant Pod Partners

179 hornsey road rcka proposed elevations.jpg

Proposed elevations

Proposed elevations

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