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Amin Taha wins appeal against Clerkenwell Close demolition order


Dear Robert, You wrote previously on the position of stone columns setting an unwanted precedent for landowners, architecture and its setting. The precedent set by Soane in "Ugliness and Judgement" by Timothy Hyde (Princeton University Press) may, therefore, be of interest. On completing the remodelling of his home at Lincoln's Inn Fields a letter was sent to the press and magistrates demanding the "new-fangled eyesore of a stone projection" be pulled down as it destroyed the uniformity and building line of its neighbours. The objector, a self-described "ambulator" campaigned until the matter ended in the courts in Soane's favour. Anything up to the property boundary line (pavement side of the lightwell) is a property owner's right to build up to. On the matter of design, it is correct he does not conform to the uniformity with neighbours but should he? Are they of such merit or is it desirous to do so, who is to decide? Judges sensibly decided it should be the choice of the private property owner, not an ambulator nor a group of them especially as his neighbours had no objection. Fitting in, conforming to perceived norms is a perennial topic. Do walk Clerkenwell Close and its adjacent streets. You'll find our basement (property boundary) projects beyond the columns and adjacent building lines dating from the medieval to C20th step in and out creating a norm of misalignment in plan and roofline that gives and maintains Clerkenwell's character of incremental growth and change. A celebration of diversity not a fixed master-planned set of streets with well-intentioned but perhaps questionable Byelaws demanding maintained conformity (such restrictions do exist). On a more technical level, the columns being peristyle not engaged will inevitably be proud of the building/enclosure line. This is an architectural standard with practical purposes to create clear environmental separation. Here, the party-wall part is the edge of thermal and weathering enclosure line, stone columns are disengaged, projected and tied back to support the floor slabs with thermal isolators at the envelope line; eliminating window reveals, sills and the need for cavity walls. Reducing material and construction cost and in turn lowering the carbon footprint of the superstructure, envelope and lowering the risk of detail junction failures for weathering and heat loss. Using contemporary technologies (structural nylon bar, glue and steel composite fixings across this line) with stone columns that are essentially a millennia-old construction and architectural compositional method. As old as the continuing arguments on how to integrate and fit in.

Posted date

16 August, 2019

Posted time

12:47 pm