Henley Halebrown Copper Lane

Source: Henley Halebrown Architects
Date: November 5, 2018

London’s first co-housing scheme consists of six homes. The architecture supports an “intentional” community and, with it’s shared facilities, heralds radical changes in the urban home. It shows how architecture can respond to a new social need that has arisen through changes in both lifestyles and economics, making home ownership more affordable as well as shaping more convivial and sustainable neighbourhoods.

1-6 Copper Lane replaces a disused children’s nursery on a 1,000m2 backland site behind residential streets. The design strategy was to develop a building type that manifests the idea of “communality” and to maximise external space. Compared to typical terraced houses where the public sphere ends at the front door, it is clear on entering 1-6 Copper Lane that, although defined, boundaries between public and private space have been extended beyond the norm.

The timber elevations to the court use wider boards and planted battens. This, more rudimentary, detail castes strong shadows and is more tactile than the smoother outward elevations. The communal facilities are located beneath the court at the heart of the scheme. The houses share a palette of simple and robust materials.Inside walls and ceilings are unpainted natural white plaster, the upper floors and staircases are white-oiled Douglas Fir timber and the lower ground floor is screeded.“Landscape” timber framed windows allow oblique views within the site.A family of staircase “types” are employed. In one house the stair incorporates a window seat.The philosophy reduces the households’ collective impact on the environment in the construction of their homes and in their daily lives.The four 3-storey houses are clad in untreated vertical timber boards, the two 2-storey houses in brick.The scheme allows for a continuous perimeter of communal gardens which offer varied growing conditions and atmospheres. As a result, there is a strong feeling of the project being intrinsically linked to its land.Both the perimeter gardens and the inner court emphasise this bond to the site.

The performance of the building fabric – insulation, air tightness, and heat recovery ventilation – plays a vital role instead of expensive and unproven technology.the embodied energy of construction has been considered in every respect: recycling waste material from the demolition; timber superstructure; timber cladding; timber fenestration and partial green roofs.

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