We were commissioned to obtain planning consent for the redevelopment of this tree-lined, backland site in the heart of Crouch End, North London. Formerly occupied by 35 lock-up garages, the site is flanked on all boundaries by the gardens of existing Victorian houses on adjacent streets. The neighbours were initially opposed to any development of the site, however by understanding their concerns and addressing them the final design is a subtle addition to the area.
The preservation of the neighbourhood is critical to the success of a backland development, creating privacy from overlooking and overshadowing of properties and gardens whilst not impacting upon neighbour’s amenity. The design follows the linear footprint of the earlier garages and provides four high-end detached contemporary homes, each with four bedrooms, positioned along the length of the narrow site as a retreat from the surrounding area.
Engaging with the planning department yielded further constraints imposed upon the design, with the height restricted to one-storey above ground floor to minimise the impact of the new homes on the surrounding properties. To achieve the internal area required by our client it was decided to incorporate basements within each dwelling. The final designs create 185sqm of GIA each, exceeding the initial brief of 170sqm.
Planning restrictions were also imposed to limited window locations, requiring obscured glazing and innovative design to provide each of the rooms with natural light and views along the length of the site. These constraints meant that the design solution for the dwellings incorporated an inward-facing aspect creating a contemporary interpretation of the traditional London mews.
The houses are designed to meet Code Level 4 with flat green roofs finished in sedum and incorporating photovoltaic panels. Black stained wood cladding and floor-to-ceiling glazing combine to provide contemporary facades that contrast with the surrounding Victorian dwellings. Black-facing brick is used at basement and podium level as well as on areas of external hard landscaping and boundary walls, linking and unifying the detached houses within the wider development and to the other materials used. The windows are beautifully framed with lighter timber, contrasting with the darker materials used elsewhere. A ramp navigates the changing levels of the site giving vehicle access to all the houses.
Entering on the ground floor, the entrance level has an accessible WC and hallway, leading onto an open-plan kitchen and dining area. The basement includes an informal family living room, opening out onto a terrace and lightwell, with a guest bedroom suite including an en-suite bathroom. The first floor contains two further bedrooms, a bathroom and the master suite, with an en-suite and walk-in closet. A unique steel and hardwood cantilevered staircase links all three floors, drawing light into the basement and linking the internal materials to the external facade. The soft and bright interiors provide large, bright and comfortable spaces for their occupants.