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BEECH HILL

ST. OLAVS

MAY GURNEY

HONOR OAK PARK

A scheme focused on creating a tight community between the 6 cabin style dwellings in amongst a group of protected trees and a well landscaped site.

Lewisham, London.

Quote at recent Lewisham Planning Committee “this is the best designed scheme we have seen here for years.”

When you have a site which is covered with trees, all with tree protection orders and root protection areas to suit, it requires a certain amount of creative thinking.  We visited the adjacent Locally Listed Walters Way scheme and were immediately struck by the unique and refreshing way of living that was possible in such a central London location, the feeling of an urban oasis, an instantaneous departure from  zone 3.

The community spirit comes from the site layout of the housing, where the shape of the street encourages social interaction, with the houses placed at different angles along a slowly meandering central spine.

We have taken a similar approach at 105 Honor Oak Park where the layout of the units have been radially arrayed around a central London Plane tree, which creates a social heart to the scheme and re-emphasises the landscape led concept the scheme looks to express.

The more we studied Walter Segal’s masterpiece, the more layers we revealed that began to excite us beyond just the self-build nature of the development. The tessellation of the grain,  the harmonious way in which the units interweave with the landscape, and the obvious socially led approach the scheme evokes. It was clear a cohesive community had been created, and the open plan nature of the houses were places people genuinely wanted to live.

The community spirit comes from the site layout of the housing, where the shape of the street encourages social interaction, with the houses placed at different angles along a slowly meandering central spine. We have taken a similar approach at 105 Honor Oak Park where the layout of the units have been radially arrayed around a central London Plane tree, which creates a social heart to the scheme and re-emphasises the landscape led concept the scheme looks to express.

As the site is on a slope similar to Walters Way, with every tree containing a TPO and with almost the entirety of the site being covered in RPAs, the constraints were obvious and challenging. The ‘Segal method’ of construction was adopted which includes the use of timber stilts rather than traditional foundations in order to avoid the tree roots and protect the landscape. The houses sit on a raised deck and are lightweight timber construction, meaning the construction period is quick, precise and cheap with the end product sustainable.

Homes sit under tree canopies and nestle up cosily to the trees themselves, without impeding on the natural environment, but rather enhancing it. The end result is more a Scandinavian wood cabin nestled in the landscape and the perfect counterbalance to busy London life.

(01)  COMMUNAL AMENITY
(02)  ROOT PROTECTION AREAS
(03)  TYPICAL HOUSE TYPOLOGY
(04)  EXISTING TOWNHOUSES

Planning – The site has a rich planning history with a number of application refusals that came forward prior to DFA coming on board. Initial pre apps were positive, the local authority buying into the studio’s meticulous analysis and application of the Lewisham Small Sites Guide and ability to create a unique and high quality housing offer, championing the locally infamous Walters Way.

Planning – The site has a rich planning history with a number of application refusals that came forward prior to DFA coming on board. Initial pre apps were positive, the local authority buying into the studio’s meticulous analysis and application of the Lewisham Small Sites Guide and ability to create a unique and high quality housing offer, championing the locally infamous Walters Way.

RPA’s – Root Protection Areas are prominent on the site resulting in a creative solution of using screw piles to minimise the impact on the roots. The crowns of the protected trees were also a constraint that had to be addressed.  Sensitively positioning each unit within the landscape with such constraints was an exciting 3d jigsaw puzzle resulting in a very site specific response.

Amenity – Each individual dwelling has its own private amenity deck. This however isn’t the focus of the amenity for the scheme; the majority of the site has been allocated as communal amenity fostering the Walter’s Way principles, with the aim of engaging the community as a whole.

Materiality – Given the nature of the scheme, a soft and natural material palette was well suited and assisted with slotting the building into the context of the protected trees on site.  Double width timber cladding is proposed at ground floor with first becoming half the width, a subtle change in the proportions that breaks down the massing.