As in many parts of inner London, the district in which the building is situated was developed as an 18th century suburb with houses of some dignity. Opposite are paired villas with large windows in brick facades, further down the street an array of cottages and small houses facing a wide stone pavement. For sound reasons the side of the street where the building stands was rebuilt in the early 1960s as well composed brick social housing, to which later and for less sound reasons, plastic framed windows and pitched roofs were installed. In a deal between our developer client and the social housing association we designed apartments for sale on a piece of land in the social housing estate facing Vassal Road, with a DoctorsÕ Clinic on the ground floor. All of this reflects the present prevailing mood in the UK for market lead solutions and its lack of coherent collective symbolism. It was the latter that is addressed in our scheme.
Apartments in our scheme are scaled to appeal equally to small families, retired couples or single people working from home, and are designed to be a community within the neighbourhood. In design the building presents itself as a formal terrace within a railed garden, consisting of the doctorsÕ surgery as a base and duplexes and a corner tower of apartments above it. Windows and balconies at the first floor are a response at a smaller scale to the villas opposite, and the brick facades are lightly over-painted with black mineral paint to simulate the aged quality of the brickwork in the locale.
An entrance lobby in the side leads up to an open air walkway behind the building, along which are ranged patios that provide the entrance to the duplexes and an informal place outside the kitchen in which to eat. Together these elements give a place of potential sociability, while the balconies to the street, facing south over the garden and into the trees, give connections to the wider neighbourhood.