BCCB 2 – The proposals

Here’s a copy of the second blog from Build It magazine:-

Following on from the previous blog which described how the project progressed from the initial idea through to planning stage, this month’s blog goes into more detail on what the scheme comprises…

The proposals

The scheme at planning stage contained 5 flats comprising:- 2no. 75m2 2 bedroom flats, 1no. 102m2 3 bedroom duplex flat, 1no. 120m2 3 bedroom flat and 1no. 45m2 one bedroom flat. The configuration of the flats around a central stair provided a great deal of flexibility in flat size options, with a range of types from ‘I’ shape single bedroom flats, ‘L’ shaped two beds, ‘C’ shaped two beds and ‘O’ shaped 3/4 beds. Fitting the owners’ preferred size and shape of flat into the volume defined between the two adjoining buildings was a lot like playing the computer game ‘tetris’ and it was with some relief that a match was found that utilized the full volume of available space!

The site’s location on Bath Street forms part of the Portobello Conservation Area. The street was originally laid out in 1801/2 and it retains its Georgian/Victorian character being predominantly a mixture of small scale Georgian buildings and larger Victorian tenements. Building heights vary tremendously from single storey shops to five storey tenements. Building materials also vary significantly from the buff sandstone of Georgian Houses to the red sandstone of Victorian tenements.

The site itself reflects this variety, being bounded to the west by a two storey buff sandstone Georgian house and to the east by a four storey red sandstone Victorian tenement. The change in level between the two buildings is particularly prominent in the streetscape, and this has been a key driver in the design of the new building. As a client group, we were very aware that Portobello has a reputation for ‘nimbyism’ and that our proposals would need to be both very high quality and highly contextual in order to gain planning approval.

In terms of materials, walls to the main facade are predominantly red sandstone, used as a rain screen to reflect the nature of the building structure. The other principal facade material is Reglit cast glass. The use of cast glass references the historical industry of Portobello and in colour terms it complements the sandstone whilst also providing a durable and visually lightweight material which ‘reads’ correctly above the pend. Upper level and rear facades are formed in dark grey zinc cladding to reference adjacent slate roofs.

A high level of sustainability is a key driver for the client body. The scheme is designed to Passivhaus equivalent levels of energy use and uses a Cross Laminated Timber structural frame to deliver exemplary levels of embodied energy. The growth of timber for the frame absorbs 114 tonnes of carbon emissions – an average UK resident’s emissions for approximately 12 years. High levels of insulation render a central heating system unnecessary and power will be generated via a combination of photovoltaic panels on site and electricity procured from 100% renewable energy – the building will be completely fossil fuel free. The roof will be finished in a sedum covering to encourage local biodiversity and the shared gardens to roof and rear will be used to grow fruit and vegetables.

Illustrations show the scheme submitted to planning.