Conservation Area Sylvan House, Lambeth
An invited competition by Lambeth & Southwark Housing Association, sought to provide the largest possible in infill, on the highly constrained grounds of their existing property in the Stockwell Park Conservation Area. The site is characterised by early 19th century villas with mature gardens, evoking a sylvan setting.
Further constraints include a protected Sycamore of notable quality and, the neighbouring curtilage of a Grade II listed building.
A proposal for a larger dwelling by an earlier practice, had been unsuccessful with planners in the preceding years; Compromised by scale, lack of integration within the sylvan environment and, a lack of sufficient daylight penetration.
Our discovery that statutory permission was regularly required (at average intervals of five years), to reduce the Sycamore’s crown by 30% each time, became the conceptual frame through which we approached the project.
Understanding that close to a third of the crown is sacrificial in planning terms, allowed a reconfiguration of the infill envelope; threading the lower story under a part of the Sycamore to provide a unique 2 bedroom duplex.
Elegant tines repeat to provide a screen, ‘concealing’ the low-slung communal rooms of the house. The tines comb sensitively into the underside of the sycamore crown, leaving adequate gaps for new branches to prosper.
A light-touch floor construction (similar to a demountable structure), is cantilevered out from hand-dug piles, minimising disturbance to the sycamore’s root-ball.
An extensive green roof surface sown with wild flowers, attracts other flora and fauna, enhancing the sylvan quality and bearing different feature-openings which, playfully exploit opportunities for daylight. The contemporary upper storey rises as a solid core, incorporating generous picture windows at the less sensitive back of the site.
The high value site will help alleviate chronic affordable housing demand in the area, through the cross-subsidy it will realise. Contributing to the target of over 15,000 net additional homes within the borough of Lambeth by 2024/25.