The plot at numbers 81-87 Weston Street is a gap site south of the Thames and close to London Bridge. It was originally occupied by an old warehouse building, which once functioned as an office. The rear wall of the warehouse served as a boundary to Guy Street Park to the south. It has been preserved and integrated into the new building as a record of changes to the area over the years.
The architecture of the local area is varied, characterised by new developments such as The Shard built in amongst more ubiquitous mid-rise Victorian warehouse buildings. The external appearance of the new building aims to reflect Southwark’s historical fabric whilst asserting the building’s unique spatial arrangement.
The eight apartments of two and three bedrooms are arranged in two staggered blocks, three apartments in one and five in the other, with a stair and lift core running up the middle of each cluster. This intelligent design ensures that all the apartments have a split section, are dual aspect and benefit from both north and south light.
The mass of the building steps up and away from the adjacent buildings on Weston Street to preserve the neighbours’ rights to light. In keeping with the diverse architecture of the neighbourhood, the block is also given variation by way of the fenestration: the
interconnected volumes of the apartments inside are expressed externally by way of large L or T-shaped window openings that permit glimpses of the split-level spaces within. The windows are set into deep reveals, and further surface relief is given by terraces set into the stepped roofline and by the large pre-cast balconies which cantilever out from the elevation.
Inside, the apartments are all unique, whilst demonstrating the same approach: they are split across several floors and centred around an open-plan, double-height space which contains the internal circulation and forms the main heart of the home. Each multi-level apartment is flooded with light from either a large full-height window or, in the case of the apartments in the centre of the two blocks, by rooflights. The social spaces – living, kitchen, dining and study areas – are placed in this fluid central volume, separated by stairs and not doors, with more cellular bedrooms located above, below or adjacent.
Due to the shape and size of the large window apertures, a traditional column and slab structure was not viable, so the building has a structural concrete shell, cast using traditional timber shutters of rough-sawn Douglas fir, the plank marked surfaces giving a strong patina to the interior. The stair cores have a smooth matt concrete finish with expressed joints. In contrast, the apartment and office interiors incorporate self-finished materials to complement the concrete, and give a warm, handcrafted feel. The solid oak windows are combined with extensive joinery - workspace desks, bedroom storage, library shelving and timber linings to the internal stair - finished in either oak or walnut.
Housing Design Awards 2018 - shortlisted
Environmental credits: The building achieved BREEAM Excellent.
Images: Rory Gardiner