The development consists of 33 apartments over 6 storeys specifically designed to accommodate older residents who wish to live independently but as part of a community and share services and facilities.
Brick is the vernacular material of the Hampstead context and is therefore integral to the success of design. However, it is the manner in which brick is used in the nearby buildings, both mansion blocks and houses, that lifts the material from mere ‘wallpaper’ to something more substantial and gives it a sense of purposeful quality. Deep reveals and layered façades imbue the surrounding buildings with a feeling of permanence whilst stucco, stone and terracotta are introduced to provide visual definition and elaboration.
The proposal is a contemporary interpretation of these qualities. The façade is conceived of as a series of bays - each distinct in its form and character - which gives the building a strong vertical rhythm. Window openings are tuned to reinforce the feeling of weight - deeper at the base
of the building and almost flush at the top, heightening the sense of specificity to the elevational treatment. Pre-cast concrete framing and lintels are layered onto this brick base and these elements unify the windows into groupings. The two interlocking villas break down the mass of the development and allow views through to the green space at the rear of the site.
There are domestic architectural devices that signify ‘entrance’ - the porch and the archway both help identify the place of entry to a building and also convey a sense of domesticity. Both these devices can be found in neighbouring buildings and the proposal seeks to employ a generous arched porch in order to ensure the legibility of the building in relation to occupant and visitor access.
The apartment interiors have an integral impact on the articulation of the brick façade. They are conceived of as an interior landscape; a set of interconnected spaces that offer different ways of occupation and use depending on the occupant and their circumstances. To be flexible does not mean to be universal. The layout provides a series of specific spaces - each with distinctive shape, proportion and light - that offer opportunities for interpretation: library, study, living room, carer’s bedroom, visitor’s room, dining room, day room.
The elegant façade and use of only two brick types belie the complexity of the build for the brick layer. Curves, bays, piers, recesses, full brick reveals and other architectural articulation required repetitive setting out of the highest quality. High quality handset brickwork with a large number of brick specials are complemented by modern methods of construction in the form of off-site produced oversize ‘porch’ arches as well as brick clad lintels.