The Design Proposal
It is proposed to build a ten-storey high mixed-use town centre scheme comprising D1, D2 use at ground floor fronting London Road in Hounslow with residential accommodation on 9 upper floors.
A vibrant active frontage will be created by the D1, D2 uses at ground floor as well as by the residential entrances.
Service vehicles will be accommodated in a basement garage that will also accommodate parking spaces for the disabled, and a fitness centre with gymnasium and swimming pool for residents of the building.
Seventy three residential apartments are proposed as follows:
I bedroom, 2 person flat x 32
2 bedroom, 4 person flat x 39
3 bedroom, 6 person flat X 2
TOTAL FLATS: 73 FLATS
The building will be a landmark building and will offer distinctiveness to its location in the urban fabric. It will contribute to the character of the London Road which is already marked with a number of tall residential buildings spaced at intervals on the approach from the east to the town centre. Its distinctiveness will enhance the legibility of the area, provide a place marker that assists orientation and way finding.
People will recognise its special features and include them in their mental map of an area. Its unique aspects will be are associated with the start of the town centre and the group of high buildings of which it will be part immediately to the west.
Size, scale and bulk
Visual bulk is an often raised impact of development. But unlike overshadowing or overlooking, it is an intangible impact which is difficult to measure. Acceptable levels of visual bulk vary from place to place. They are also evolving, as we become used to bigger buildings.
In essence, visual bulk is determined by two variables: how big and/or close the building is, and whether it is nice to look at.
In high-rise areas such as this, tall buildings are exactly what people expect to see, and visual bulk is measured by the space between towers rather than height.
Whether a building is nice to look at is highly subjective. However, modulation of the form, use of different materials and colours, and greening are generally thought to break up the mass of a building.
Any consideration of visual bulk must also consider where the building will be seen from. If it is not within the primarily outlook of nearby, routinely-occupied spaces, or if it will be heavily screened by landscaping, its impact is significantly reduced.
Assessing visual bulk requires judgement of reasonable expectations, which vary from suburb to city, and which change over time as policy increasingly emphasises consolidation and bigger buildings become the norm.
An Urban Design analysis of the nearest tall buildings has been undertaken at the request of the LPA who have drawn particular attention to the recently constructed 10 storey high development east of the site, citing it as an exemplar.
The outcome of this analysis indicates that the proposal for development at 684 London Road has a smaller footprint, strong vertical articulation, smaller bay widths than the other developments.
It combines a variety of high-quality facing materials using buff coloured bricks (at the request of the LPA), aluminium framed double-glazed windows by Schuco (or similar), glazed winter gardens and high quality white solar coated glass for the top floor and central vertical spine.
The visual bulk is appropriate and the building attractive.
Following discussion with the planning officers a light brown high-quality facing brick will be used for the main facades of the building. A coloured Sto render will be used for the ground floor facades. Windows will be high performance aluminium framed double glazed units with low ‘e’ clear glass glazing.
Private amenity space that accords with London Plan requirements is provided for each residential apartment. This takes the form of private balconies and, where on the lower levels of the building fronting London Road the environment is noisy and polluted, by Winter Gardens.
The building’s main facade is therefore fronted by a distinctive series of winter gardens – balconies that can be fully enclosed by glass. These private winter gardens will be an attractive draw of the the apartments along with the expansive views these ‘gardens’ enable through floor-to-ceiling glazing.
Stepping out from an apartment into one of these winter gardens should feel like a seamless transition, even though are moving from interior to exterior space. Sheltered despite their exposed view, they will feel closer to a conservatory than a balcony, enabling the inclusion of furniture and homeware.
The winter gardens are protected from the weather and wind — while still allowing natural ventilation. This gives each resident the ability to manage their preferred winter garden microclimate
But the winter gardens aren’t simply about resident leisure space: they also act as a thermal buffer zone, encasing the fully glazed building within it. By enclosing a balcony the benefits of solar gain, natural light and natural ventilation reduce artificial energy requirement. It offers an energy efficient and sustainable solution. Privacy screening and opaque glazing are available. When the balcony is enclosed it has noise reduction properties of up to 17db and this will make a significant improvement to the wellbeing of the occupants
The top floor will be delineated with a glass façade as will the central vertical spine that divides the towers.
This modelling of the building on the London Road side is accentuated by this vertical column of glazing that extends the full the full height of the building.
For these elements we propose a low-iron glass for the exterior of the tower with an Ipasol Bright White solar coating produced by Interpane; this is the same finish as on The Shard. As The Shard demonstrates, the reflective quality of this material allows the tower to visually almost dissolve into the sky, especially when — as is usually the case in London — it is cloudy and overcast.
This light, shimmering presence will suit Hounslow well and will make a statement without being confrontational. With its location overlooking London Road, and enhanced by its sculptural exterior, the building will simultaneously relate to its urban environment and reflect the sky.
The Activity Centre Design Guidelines define active frontages as :
“street frontages where there is an active visual engagement between those in the street and those on the ground floors of buildings. This quality is assisted where the front facade of buildings, including the main entrance, faces and open towards the street.”
Llewelyn Davies (2007) listed a number of attributes for active frontages in their influential publication ‘Urban Design Compendium’: frequency of doors and windows; vertical rhythm to the buildings; articulation to building facades and views of lively internal uses. Their facade evaluation scale, developed from the previous work of Gehl (1994), sets out a classification for five grades of active frontage. Tall buildings have significant access and servicing requirements which come together at the base of the building. To avoid a poor relationship with the public realm we have provided an underground delivery and servicing facility that allows the front of the building with its well designed and generous entrances and attractive lobby space to establish a positive and active interface with the public realm. Servicing bays, blank walls, and other secondary functions that compromise the quality of other nearby developments are avoided.
The proposed development at 684 London Road accords with both the Active Centre definition and Llewelyn Davies list of attributes and the street frontage onto London Road will include the main façade of D1 and D2 uses, the pedestrian entrances to the residential units, cycle racks for visitors and access points to the residents cycles stores. There are frequent doors and windows, distinct vertical rhythms, a variety of articulations and views into the D1 & D2 uses.
|Tags||Regeneration, Residential, Urban Design and Masterplanning|