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Forest Mews


Project Details

£1m to £1.99M

New Build, Brownfield site


Stolon Studio Ltd

Unit A Willow House , Dragonfly Place , London , SE4 2FJ

The site is located behind a row of Victorian flats and shops and is only accessible via a long narrow driveway between terraces of Victorian Houses. The site is land-locked and overlooked by a patchwork of freehold and leasehold properties. It previously contained a derelict store, textile-print studio, yard area and converted lock-up in which the clients previously lived. The clients brief was to create an inspiring family home, in which they could live and work, part-funded by the creation of two further homes on the site. Given the compact nature of the site and the surrounding properties it was important that the new houses would feel private yet at the same time open and airy. The solution to this was to create three generous houses, designed to complement one another, built in close proximity yet without compromising privacy and daylight.  A sensitive design was required to manage 32 Party Wall Awards and achieve a contextual solution that met the planners concerns regarding daylight and outlook for adjacent properties. Each of the three houses is tailored to its position on the site, fashioned from the same building fabric, and gathered together using a common design thread. The buildings are set around and look into a shared central courtyard. A private courtyard forms the centre of each open plan ground floor, with living and studio spaces on either side. By providing each house with a workspace, a live-work community was created within the mews, connecting into the wider live-work community already established in Forest Hill. Atypical to a traditional mews, the designs are light and airy, with a high proportion of glazing to solid, carefully designed in combination with internal planning, to provide privacy in places and openness in others. The design creates a small community and desirable form of co-housing, appealing to many Londoners. Although each house is individual, the development benefits greatly from a positive relationship between the properties through the shared space and common design language. There is already a strong sense of community and collective responsibility between the neighbours, who can pool resources to host events, and share in tasks such as gardening. The communal courtyard is a geometric mix of resin-bound gravel and planting beds, connecting back to brick piers. The beds provide footholds from which climbing plants grow, supported on a treillage mesh, which branches across the face of the buildings, tracing out the motif of the elevations and providing privacy and shade to occupants. The green walls provide cooling, shade and privacy. They also create wonderful shadows, day and night. A mix of sedum and native wild flowers were used to increase biodiversity and improve the appearance. The green walls are a unique selling point of the properties, which appealed to tenants, neighbours and visitors. A range of architectural innovations was used to create high-end buildings on a measured budget. The curtain walling effect (two-storey glazing) was achieved using domestic-sized composite timber/aluminium triple glazed windows, stacked on top of one another and supported by the plywood first-floor deck. The slender brick piers required an unorthodox sequencing of work and temporary supports. Commercial flooring is used throughout, extending seamlessly between inside and out. Utilitarian steel handrails and balusters were hand-patinated to add refinement. Vinyl graphics and strong colours were used to add a playful touch to interiors. Wildlife and sedum roofs, green walls, landscaped courtyard provide part of the Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS), which also features two ‘drinking policemen’, rainwater harvesting and a 17 cubic metre storm water attenuation tank.  Level access is provided into the live and work part of each property. The interior colours provide visual legibility, and together with high levels of natural light and views of the planted amenity space, help to increase levels of well-being and happiness.