On the site of a former hospital, this magnificent site with over 100 tree preservation orders all requiring individual attention, overcame complex technical issues and changes in level to become an open, beautifully landscaped courtyard development with three buildings. The fourth side of the garden is a richly planted hill side under which is a private pool and gym - a solution first tried at UCS School in Frognal, Hampstead.
The apartments are all large laterals with balconies, and huge roof terraces are formed for the upper levels accommodation. Each block is designed with a central core with one apartment either side allowing aspects to three sides. This is an essential solution for a site with so much existing vegetation in close proximity as each apartment has three window walls. Views have contrasting aspects; some with trees some with glimpses to the distance, and some looking into the private courtyard. The split massing and views generated an architecture of two halves. The simple brick ground floor has wooden ‘boxes’ on one side and clay tile ‘houses’ on the other, both perching on a strong base.
Windows are located where they are needed which adds tension to the composition with asymmetry and even wrap around corner windows if merited by the view. The volumetric and ‘naïve’ composition has an overtone of brutalism most evident at the entrances where brick is also used to express the cores.
The standards set in luxury London interiors were re-iterated including the ability to integrate heating and cooling with no visible grilles, controls access hatches, flush showers on solid floors, and lifts accessing directly into the apartments. A large basement car park is dug deep into the Hampstead clay and accessed through an informal entrance court. The perimeter wall to Bishops Avenue is treated as a traditional metal garden railing but sitting on precast concrete dwarf walls as a means to overcome putting foundations on tree roots. The landscape design had many different aspects to it from wild woodland walks to formal courtyards.