The project occupies a key location bounded by Walworth Town Hall and terraced housing at the southern edge and an emerging context of tall buildings towards Elephant & Castle Station. The elevation facing on to and defining a new public square is expressed as a series of townhouses taking cues from the scale and rhythm of Georgian and Victorian London streets. The varied brickwork tones help the new development blend into the historic context, giving the impression of having been built over time.
Articulated brickwork assists in the transition from low buildings fronting the square to taller towers rising from the podium. A pattern of varied brickwork colours make the towers appear as a collage, breaking down the main blocks of the scheme to a smaller and more human scale. The varied brick types applied across the façade help make the homes identifiable to the people who live there – ‘that’s my home’.The varied colours of brickwork are applied so that darker tones make a strong statement street side, emphasised by contrast with the consistent white reveals. The brickwork tones become gradually lighter towards the top of the building, allowing them to take precedence over the reveals and giving the building a sculptural quality. Lighter, whiter brickwork is used almost entirely on the courtyard elevations to amplify sunlight and blend with the reveals – a calmer backdrop for the residents’ shared garden.
Back at street level, brickwork detailing is used to differentiate the residential entrances from the shops they share a frontage with. The use of sawtooth bonding allows them to step backwards.
Cost constraints meant brickwork specials were reduced to a minimum. The subtle cants and kinks in the elevations were instead built as swept bends – with the brickwork rotated gradually along the length of several brick modules. The skill employed by the brick layers achieved these transitions without visible changes of bond, adding to the building’s carved, sculptural quality.
The combination of changing articulation and alternating brick types meant that an engineer and skilled bricklayer were continually involved in setting out the façade.
In response to an accelerated programme, Lee Marley proposed a ‘jump’ utilising the masonry support to open up a second work front on the 14th floor. Being able to take advantage of our large pool of labour and management in London meant that 8 weeks were able to be gained on the programme.Seven apprentices were employed on site for the duration of the project and Lee Marley also employed 9 local labour placements for over 6 months.