Walter Menteth Architects

Consort Road

This was a 0.265h. brownfield site in the Peckham regeneration area. It now provides 49 affordable dwellings (of which 22 are for rent, the corner building and all the houses, with 27 for shared ownership sale to key workers), with 370m2 commercial and retail space. The scheme has a density of 187 dph (610 hrph).

Site  and Layout

The site has a number of environmental issues. It falls 3m to the north were it occupies an awkward triangle of land hemmed in between a railway viaduct with small metal bashing activities located in its arches and Consort Road which is a busy one way ‘A’ road lying along the south west boundary.  To the west there is an LT depot (the proposed terminus for the Cross River tram). Vehicle access off Consort Road wasn’t permissible so the site access is across an earlier Presentation Group development to the east.

To define the edge of the Nunhead neighborhood to the east, model the scheme within its context, achieve beneficial solar gain and maximum densities, the larger six storey ‘L’ shaped building was placed against the railway viaduct on the lower land to the north. This context is locally addressed by use of a tall curvaceous galvanized steel glazed wall that is used to thermally buffer, shelter and screen off the building from the railway viaduct.

This building provides shared ownership apartments with commercial space at ground level adjacent to the existing activities. It is also used to acoustically screen the remaining site. It is linked via a terrace of three storey family houses to a four storey rental block to the south. This turns down Brayards Road. The pavement width along Consort Road has been doubled.  Gardens and sheltered landscaped areas are at the rear.

Sustainability and Construction

A five-storey high galvanized steel single glazed screen wall to the rear of the shared ownership apartments lies outside of the buildings insulated shell. It works like a cold frame to thermally buffer the dwellings to their north, as well as screening the building from the noise of the railway and the industries based within the arches below. This foil has been designed with storey high glass panels using 3 glass types (clear, opal white and textured) in 3 modular widths so as to develop rhythmic patterns that relate to the individual apartment openings, the walkway circulation and the movement of passing trains on the viaduct beyond. This entire screen is cantilevered off the building envelope at the North West corner to create a dramatic prow.

In the apartments a wide span R.C slab and frame structure (giving excellent acoustic performance and high thermal mass) is encased in a super insulated shell.

On the south and western facades there are 39 multistory wintergardens which offer energy benefits and solar capture, while protecting residents from the adjacent traffic noise and providing space in which to extend the dwellings in the warmer months. The development also includes a gas powered CHP (combined heat and power) plant, PV arrays (generating 7200kWh/yr), MVHR (whole house ventilation with heat recovery), a landscaped roof, high thermal mass construction, and a number of other original modern construction innovations deployed or developed by the practice.

Internally dwellings are generous, elegant and highly energy efficient. The apartment’s simple interior plans, sliding walls, folding screens, structural modules and services are constructed to allow for future flexibility, adaptation and change. All dwellings are also designed to meet Lifetime Homes Standards.

A Car Club has been set up to serve all residents. This is provided along with parking allocations for the family houses only. This also addressed concerns about vehicles crossing through the adjacent housing.

Where appropriate, prefabrication was used for speed of construction and buildability. The roofs and parts of the upper storeys of the terrace are built deploying prefabricated two-way spanning structural insulated panels (SIP) using a neopor core. These allow large clear spans, and with directly applied finishes internally and externally give a single skin construction with an overall depth of less than 250mm above large, well proportioned and airy rooms.

The winter-gardens are orchestrated into a distinctive sequence of bays and buttresses. The simple play of generously proportioned walls and glazing establishes a clear urban presence providing architectural scale and differentiation.

Commissioned in 2003, site works commenced June 2005 and were completed in July 2007 for a construction cost of £7.76m.

Images © Edmund Sumner/Rod Morris