Dalston Lane

London. 1999

  • Project Details
  • Completion: 1999
  • Cost: £1.9 Million
  • Clients: The Peabody Trust

Dalston Lane explores how a large-scale grid, applied wholeheartedly, can break down the mass and scale of a single building to something more in keeping with the surrounding disparate context. A three-storey block of 18 flats – draped in massive blue and white cheques – is set back above a glass and steel-framed retail frontage flanked by deep blue glazed-brick walls. Entrances at each end are formed by folds into the brick. Despite its boldness of pattern, the grid is more complex than first appearances might suggest, cutting across the windows to align unexpectedly with their mullions and transoms. North-facing bedrooms are expressed in the punched façade to Dalston Lane, with south-facing living and eating spaces arranged along a glazed elevation. Each flat opens onto a generously deep, full-width balcony with striking views towards the City, rising up less than a couple of miles away.

This scheme provides 18 two-bedroom flats and 6 one-bedroom flats which are let on a ‘market -rent’ basis located above a retail base of 750 m².

The scheme was developed over a six month period prior to the receipt of planning approval in close liaison with the client, English Heritage and local interest groups. The scheme was treated by the planners as an amendment to an existing approved scheme designed by MDA for a similar schedule of accommodation. MDA’s scheme was for a radically different flat fronted proposal built hard onto the street in the manner and style of a baroque Victorian mansion block constructed of three storeys of brick topped by a mansard fourth floor.

The three storey block of residential accommodation follows the dominant urban form of the adjacent properties of Dalston Lane and is set back above a plinth of retail units. Access to the apartments is by way of gates in each side elevation which serve onto a sheltered colonnade. Single flights of stairs run from this south facing entrance elevation to the first floor to the north where a top lit dogleg stair provides access to each of the flats. This ensures that there is an uninterrupted retail elevation onto the main street and the unit sub-division is flexible. Each of the four stairs serves two flats on each of three levels. The rear courtyard provides servicing access to the shops and car-parking and is well planted to provide a ‘fifth elevation’ when viewed from the continuous south facing balconies.

The ground floor elevation comprises glass and steel framed retail frontages contained at each end by deep-blue glazed brick flank walls. These walls wrap around the units and fold inwards to mark the entrance to the flats. The mullions and transoms of the windows to the North-facing bedrooms onto Dalston Lane define the interlocking pattern in the three storey chequerboard façade which wraps around three sides of the accommodation. These peal out on the west and east elevation to let south light into the entrance halls of the end flats. South-facing living and eating spaces are arranged along a glazed elevation and open on to generous balconies framed by an integrated design for planters and railings.

The blue and light grey chequerboard pattern on the North, West and East elevations refers to Lutyens’ work in Pimlico and is punctuated by generous deep set windows. This technique serves to break up the mass of the three rendered elevations and to pick up the scale of the adjacent 19th Century properties and 1960s Library. The chequerboard pattern is carried through to the glazed South elevation where clear and white glass (Okalux) are used to frame views and break up the overpowering effect of a fully glazed wall.

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