The project for the complete redevelopment of an urban site on Seven Sisters Road, on the edge of Finsbury Park in North London, involved the demolition of an existing hotel, with associated outbuildings and low quality external areas. Seven Sisters Road is characterised by large Victorian villas which give the street a distinctive grain.
The development consists of three new urban villas arranged around a shared space, varying in height and scale, but connected in material and form. The two buildings at the front of the site continue the typology of villas on Seven Sisters Road, while the third building at the rear of the site is smaller in scale, as befits its 'backland' situation.
As an instinctive reaction to the paper-thin expression of much housing of this type appearing in London and the UK generally, our interest was in developing housing that felt solid and substantial. The buildings have a strong tectonic expression of brick and concrete elements, which represent the structure and give a strong sensation of permanence and weight. With a structure of concrete flat slab and columns, walls are arranged in piers between full height window assemblies and supported on in-situ concrete rails that are thermally isolated from the structure behind and return to create the soffits of balconies and roof. These rails also act as lintels at openings and the support provided by these elements at each floor level removes the need for any movement joints in the wall. The brick, burnt-red in colour with flush mortar joints, appears as a monolithic element. This is further emphasised by the deeply recessed window assemblies or balcony spaces behind.
The repeated order of the tectonic facade appears in counterpoint to the gently undulating and modulated external wall. The faint forms of bay windows and set-backs, experienced more explicitly on the nineteenth-century villas nearby, suggest both familiarity and difference in a way that feels appropriate within this urban situation. And yet, the space between buildings is charged by the subtle differences arising between building volumes and in their placement in relation to each other.