Foundry Mews is a surreptitious new-build, mixed-used development on a backland site in Barnes, West London. Tucked away behind a traditional range of shop buildings fronting Barnes High Street, the site was a long abandoned dilapidated MOT and car body repair workshop. The brief for this sensitive site was to create studios and housing. We chose to take the model of the artisan mews where studios and living space share an intimate courtyard setting. The linked gabled buildings use vernacular forms reminiscent of small-scale workshops. The scheme comprises six duplex dwellings above a plinth of studio workspaces with two additional units and an apartment in the gabled northern block. While the brick gables and slate roofs merge into the surrounding street-scape, contemporary screens formed within the brickwork gables shield terraces of the apartments. This unassuming addition to the neighbourhood is an essay in placemaking and offers a thoughtfully re-worked typology for so called 'difficult’ sites.
The planning process was protracted due to the sensitive nature of the site on the edge of a conservation area and being surrounded by properties. The planning department insisted on the pitched roof envelope (to match a previously granted application) and various conditions with regards to overlooking. While initially presented themselves as limiting constraints, by pushing up against these parameters during the design process the scheme presents itself as a complexly wrought, characterful sequence of spaces.
The main design concept is the notion of an access courtyard running the length of the site allowing ground floor access to the commercial units communal areas for residents use. Two external stairs tucked between the blocks provide access from the courtyard to the residential units above emphasising the ‘workshop’ character of the scheme. The duplex apartments are arranged with the living space on the lower floor and bedroom and bathroom tucked into the sloped ceiling upper floor.
The majority of the scheme is grey brick with flush mortar joints which is sympathetic to the local stock brick referencing the site’s industrial past. The detailing – flush mortar joints, recessed bargeboards – is contemporary and bespoke timber fenestration, painted dark green externally, provides a visual counterpoint. This sense of heritage is also apparent in the large window assemblies to the commercial units on the ground floor, metal grating balustrades, and continues with the interiors where the commercial units have exposed concrete soffits, polished concrete floors and painted brickwork walls. The material palette for the residential units includes pale grey walls, joinery picked out in bright white and exposed painted timber joists in the main living spaces. This accentuates the flashes of luxury; marble surfaces in the kitchens and bathrooms with douglas fir flooring throughout.
Due to extremely limited site access, all materials for the development had to be carried in by hand. This led to designing a concrete slab and columns for the ground and first floors with the residential upper floors being brick and blockwork with timber joists and studwork. Deliberately the materials are exposed where possible allowing this composite construction to add to the character of the scheme.
Sustainable design features were integrated into the project including a green flat roof, photovoltaic cells flush with the pitched roofs, mechanical ventilation heat recovery units in the flats and a centralised gas heating system.
The client, southwest London-based property developers Marston Properties, are experienced in property management and were keen to retain all the units for rental. They believed in developing a scheme which would provide something new for the local area whilst becoming part of the urban fabric and be a flagship project for their portfolio.
The 5 one-bed duplex apartments are between 57sqm and 66sqm with the two-bed apartments 80sqm and 85sqm internal areas. The commercial units are sized between 37sqm and 93sqm offering a variety of rental options for businesses. The site area is 800sqm.