Latitude House

Camden,London. 2005

  • Project Details
  • Completion: 2005
  • Cost: £2.5 Million
  • Clients: Indigo @ Latitude

Two limestone-clad blocks sit firmly on a prominent site at Camden Town’s northern gateway to announce Latitude House and act as a landmark to add to the urban grain of the area. The massing has been broken down to follow the triangular depth of the former petrol station plot; a careful arrangement of set-backs and cantilevers that capture more space internally whilst offering visual privacy to the terrace gardens below. The material palette is a controlled composition of panelled limestone and glass framed by dark aluminium sections, echoed inside with limestone floors and bright walls framed by shadow lines. All of the 12 apartments are at least dual aspect, several triple, meaning there’s no shortage of space and light.

Awards

Camden Design Awards 2008 Housing Design Award 2006 National Homebuilder Design Awards: Highly Commended 2006 Natural Stone Awards: Highly Commended 2006

Latitude House is a luxury apartment building for client, Indigo@Latitude. It is located on a triangular site at the northern gateway from London’s Regents Park and Primrose Hill into Camden Town. It is designed as two attached blocks, one four storeys high with two apartments on each floor, the other a three storey block with one flat on each floor. The building’s form is partly conditioned by this tight site and it partly reflects the scale and massing of neighbouring buildings. Its street elevation is a careful, apparently random, arrangement of full height panels of glass and limestone which, according to an awards judge, balances ‘risk with a clear appreciation of conservation.’
 

Context

The site, a former Jet service station had long been neglected. But this was a landmark site waiting for a significant building because of its position on a complex junction in the Camden Town street network. Our intention with its design was to add to the urban grain of the area and to re-connect local urban routes by addressing the immediate scale and footprint of adjacent villas and terraces. ’

 

Shape

 

The two block arrangement and the slight stepping back of one section of the larger block is a direct response to the awkward triangular shape of the site – and its size. The ground floor is set back to align with an adjacent wall and to give a little privacy to the ground floor flats. The apparently arbitrary nature of the pattern of solid and void on the main elevation is actually a direct reflection of the internal layout of the building. The end elevation steps out a little at each floor contributing to the idea of the building as an assemblage of limestone blocks in a state of near-equilibrium.’

 

Surface

 

The palette of materials is carefully controlled: limestone, glass panels framed by dark aluminium sections - and white render on the rear elevation. This is echoed inside with limestone floors and painted plaster walls detailed with shadow lines in both the apartments and the public areas. The main street elevation is of limestone panels which alternate with large frameless apertures into which full height panels of glass are inserted, sometimes almost flush, sometimes set back to the rear of inboard balconies. Limestone is also used as flooring throughout the apartments and common areas. Balcony balustrades are clear cantilevered glass. The rear elevation is in white render and glazing softened by landscaped components. The roof, the fifth elevation, is a low maintenance sedum blanket: succulent plants on a thin soil substrate providing UV protection for the roof membrane, supporting wildlife and reducing the flow of rainwater run-off.

 

Process

 

The site was less than optimal: it had to have the old service station’s fuel tanks removed and the ground decontaminated and then tested. In addition the west end was located over the tracks of the railway line to and from the West Country. Facing a railway authority ban on piling in that part of the site we, and our engineers, devised a structure which cantilevered the end of the first floor slab out nearly to the boundary from a structural ground support inside the no-build line. The ground floor flats are set back to obey the same rule and we successively cantilevered the ends of each floor 200mm until the end of the top floor aligns with the boundary. In this process we were able to maximise an ostensibly unpromising site.

 

Collaboration

 

The millimetre precision with which cladding materials join with each other was the result of intense collaboration between us, the main contractor, the glazing sub-contractor and the stone supplier. The glazing frames are big: tweaking each ones relationship with each stone panel on site would have been customary but not necessarily the best way of proceeding. So together we developed an erection sequence. Once the relatively low tolerance concrete structure was complete the factory-made glazing frames were fixed to the openings and the stone panels fixed last with only the last panel on each floor cut to take up the collective tolerances across the elevation.


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