Clever Use of a Backland Site
Our clients acquired this small backland site on a dilapidated garage in Balham, South London, to develop a single house for sale.
The brief was, therefore, to design a high-quality dwelling on a small site, requiring us to work closely with the Wandsworth Planning Department to get a successful application through. The project required an exciting design which added more floor area (and value) and strong environmental credentials.
Using an existing application and our knowledge of the site and surrounding area, we developed a robust design-led solution. We carefully considered issues with the previous applications and restrictive planning conditions and submitted a new design to address all of the concerns. The new design improved floor plans at the ground and basement and added a new first-floor element to improve floor area dramatically. We added a new environmental strategy to the planning application to enhance the building’s sustainable credentials. An essential part of the successful submission was a well-developed set of drawings and hand-worked perspectives, demonstrating to the council the level of design needed to approve the application.
At the basement, we stepped the floor levels of the plan to improve ceiling heights and natural light and integrate a 900-deep green roof over the basement living space to meet planning policy. On the ground floor, we rationalised the footprint, previously led by an awkwardly shaped garage. The new design simplified the external envelope to improve the internal floor area and avoid awkward and inefficient construction.
We added a first-floor element, allowing a further bedroom and bathroom. We stepped back the new first floor from the main elevations and pitched the roof to reduce its impact on the street. Strong glazed elements reduced the apparent mass of the addition and allowed for a clever solution to bring the staircase up to the first floor.
By working closely with the client and local council (Wandsworth Borough Council), we could add a new dwelling with a significant floor area at the bottom of an awkward site. This development created a new house and satisfied our client’s commercial objectives.
As a new dwelling, planning policy and building regulations required a well-considered environmental strategy. It was clear that local policy encouraging the use of BREEAM as a design standard did not best suit the site, and therefore, we chose to design the project to Passivhaus standards. Our focus is often a fabric-first approach, building with a high-performance envelope and achieving U-values better than that required by regulations. This approach lends itself well to Passivhuas.
Our team worked closely with a Passivhaus consultant (Richard Bendy of The Healthy Home Ltd) to design a sustainable home from the start. As well as low UValues, the project targeted high air tightness and used MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery) and air source heat pumps.
Key Team Members
Sustainability and Passivhaus Consultant – Richard Bendy
AAH Consultants – Civil Engineering and Drainage
Qualitas – Contractor