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Timber Mansions | Knightsbridge, Chelsea MArch RIBA II Unit 5 2019-2020 The London School of Art, Architecture and Design (formerly the Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design)

Acknowledgements Unit Tutor: Alex Ely Unit Tutor: Michael Dillon Canonbury Tower, Borough of Islington Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club, Windermere Blackwell The Arts and Craft House, Windermere

Contents Introduction to Brief The Tectonic Language of Timber A collective house in timber for the elderly

Ricardo Bela

Garden Homes A healthier multi-storey

Alice Brammer

Timber Mansion Block Collective housing for later life living

Wojciech Chorzepa Timber Mansion William Chew

Sweetness and Light Naomi Cohen Benchabo

Housing in Timber Innovative Housing, Humanistic technology

Kieran Gallagar

The tectonic language of timber A scheme to tackle loneliness

Florence Grace Drennan A Welcoming Home Alex Fordham

Timber Mansion Collective House for later life living.

Valerija Kamolina

The Thresholds Between Collective housing for later life living

Amber Lines

Timber Mansions A Cosy Place

Andrada Luca Layers in timber Xingjian Fan House for Three Joao Amaral dos Santos

The Timber Mansions project looks at two key opportunities in design, namely sensitive and high-quality design of spaces suitable for later living, and using timber as a primary structural material to create a lighter building footprint. Given that each proposal is to be a fully timber framed, the primary challenges regarding materiality and structure are twofold: 1. Following the Grenfell tower disaster, current UK building regulations forbid the use of any combustible materials in the façade build up of buildings over 18 metres, and 2. Using timber contextually in an area that is rich in masonry and with a strong vernacular. In the light of this, the Unit challenged building regulations, particularly given the natural properties of timber, which chars to create a structurally stable material of low combustibility when subject to burning. Furthermore, with the advent and research of high-quality, engineered timber, A-rated timber may become a building commodity in the near future. Our collective house proposal is to include collective gardens and a civic space. Using our current knowledge,

architects such as Voysey, Menasseh, Cullinan and Colin St John Wilson have influenced our driving concepts. The sunken room, the intentional arrival space, the use of furniture as threshold, the subverted notion of indoors and outdoors and the reduced use of designated circulation space have been architectural drivers that have inspired our proposals thus far. Both located in London’s Borough of Knightsbridge, our two sites are approximately 450m2. They are both incredibly rich from an architectural and historical point of view, home to a conglomerate of buildings by JJ Stephenson and Norman Shaw in the Queen Anne style.

The tectonic language of timber A collective house in timber for the elderly

Riccardo Bela

In a site context of heavy masonry buildings (Kensington) and a socio-political one where new restrictive implications for timber components for use in highrise buildings are being promoted, the project focuses on the design of collective housing for elderly people in Kensington, aiming at sensitive, accessible and connected spaces for later living and utilizing timber as a primary structural material to create a lighter building footprint. Taking the cue from concepts explored during the first semester, this project develops ideas of domesticity, threshold, communality, collectivity, and timber tectonics in a large-scale housing scheme of min. 30 units. Communal living implies sharing one’s life with a community, with other individuals. The challenge of cohousing is to establish the conditions of perfect harmony between private and communal quarters, individual and shared spaces. This idea of co-living is, nowadays, often juxtaposed to designing for elderly people; this derives from the necessity to respond to a market failure which has resulted from “entrenched attitudes around older people (and what they are looking for) [and] a lack of innovation in the private housing industry� (Designing with downsizers, 2016, p. 1). The aim is, therefore, to orchestrate a new system that is easily accessible, adaptable, sociable, connected and green.

The project aims to design a series of private units within a bigger building block, united and connected by fluid collective spaces that act sometimes as corridors and circulation spaces, some others as communal rooms, like reading, living and dining rooms, sometimes as threshold. The use of timber is both to enhance a sense of domesticity and comfortability, especially in the inhabitable spaces, and to perform a civic gesture for the wider brick context of Cadogan Square, where the building is set.

The profile view The main accesses to the site are to the North and South of Cadogan Square. The proposed building is mostly seen from profile, next to other existing buidlings. Therefore, the articulation of the faรงade, the fenestration/panelling and the roofline are designed with reference to the profile view.

Elevation study The faรงade expresses the nature of the space behind; for instance, the solid heavy side enhances privacy, and that is where in plan the private units will be; whereas the lightweight frame-like parts reveal publicity and exposure, and that is where the collective rooms are.

The west elevation 1:50 Model

The lightness of the central enfilade of bay windows is enhanced by the great visual permeability of those, allowing a glimpse at the courtyards behind and at some of the internal spaces too. Conversely, the sides reveal a sense of privacy: the windows are smaller, the cladding is dense, and the planks, overlapping to form horizontal fascias, reveal the relatively short heights of the private flats behind.

The main court 1:50 Model

The central court acts as a public square but also as a threshold between the main street, the proposed building and the narrow Shafto Mews. It allows collectivity and gathering, yet conferring to Shafto Mews the typically private and secluded condition.

The flat to the North NTS

The plan of the northern block shows the sequence of spaces from private to public, articulated by the use of different wall types and material textures. Recent data reveal that third-agers privilege extra space around the living, dining and kitchen areas. In the proposed building, the living and dining are collective spaces with much circulation space and freedom of movement.










Typical Apartment Block Plan 1:200

1. Hall to blocks 2. Connecting corridor 3. Living room 4. Dining room


The collective enfilade 1:20 Model

The corridor to the front of the mansion feels bright, permeable and tall; like Manasseh’s house, this circulation space reads as a puiblic/ collective space, and the visual connection to the outside is enhanced. Compression and heavyweight are associated to the private spaces, to convey protection and enclosure; frame-like and furniture-like light elements are, conversely, associated to the collective spaces.

John, a 70 year old man, lives on the third floor of the Northern block. He likes to open the window in the collective dining space of his flat and to look outside towards the civic court below. He enjoys this view and the smell coming from the coffee place below in the morning; as he waves to the neighbouring dwellers, he feels part of a bigger community.

Garden Homes A healthier multi-storey

Alice Brammer

This project is focussed on the possibilities of creating a healthier apartment block within the city through increasing the amount of usable and beneficial external space available to residents. The building has a number of shared garden spaces throughout, which are freely available to all residents. Porous thresholds between private and shared allow uninhibited movement. These shared spaces promote interaction through collective interest in their upkeep, as well as nurturing a supportive environment through communal activity. This supportive environment is particularly crucial in housing for the elderly, as residents increasingly rely on their neighbours. A group study of Ted Cullinan’s Camden Mews home provided a springboard from which to explore timber construction and its placing within the urban landscape. The uneven rhythm of the structure, and its interesting use of perpendicular timber elements made for an interesting structural analysis. The winding entrance sequence on a small site managed to create unique garden spaces and drew on the illusion of a separation from the city. Through consideration of the interaction between the individual and the garden, I investigated how each space was occupied, and how each garden can provide benefit to every single resident. Efficient use of space is essential in a city plot, and ensuring that every space provided a unique

experiance was important. The building needs to be able to provide for a range of differently-abled residents. The threshold between garden and city plays a vital role in the buildings positioning as a residential space, allowing privacy while linking to the surrounding landscape. The massing of the building responds to the positioning of the site and allows for privacy to the main street and garden spaces which benefit from natural light. The outward language of the building is purely timber, tying into the environmental heart of the garden homes. Material and structural honesty is a key design point, allowing for an openness within the homes.

Concept diagram Exploring how entrance sequences and gardens can create a separation from the surrounding city led to investigations into the threshold between home and garden, and the point at which a shared space becomes private. Every home has a point of contact with at least one garden space.

Connection between flat and garden The link between the properties and the gardens is very important, ensuring that every home has a direct connection to shared space. The individual feel of each space allows for a variety of uses as well as caters to a range of different people.

Massing study Creating privacy while honestly responding to the central location of the site created constraints which led to a developed massing and detailed facade strategy. The massing focusses on privacy to the front of the building and the main street, and a more open language to the back.

Milner street elevation 1:200

The facade has a very specific rhythm to it, referencing the uneven structure of Ted Cullinan’s Camden Mews house. The breakdown of the facade varies as it moves up the building, to create the illusion of a lighter-weight body sitting on the heavier-weight lower half.

Bay elevation 1:20 Model

The panelling to the facade creates an asymmetric rhythm allowing for large areas of glazing and dark coloured timber sections. Timber to timber joints along the facade ensure a simplicity within the structure.

Structural honesty 1:20 Model

Material honesty plays a key role in the values of the design. The timber structure is mirrored in the timber clad facade and timber to timber jointing. The light coloured structure is visible throughout the building, including the garden spaces, linking the internal and external spaces.


First Floor Plan 1:200

Every flat has a direct visual connection to at least one of the shared garden spaces. The kitchen-diner spaces are inward looking, allowing interaction between residents, while bedrooms and bathrooms are outward looking, allowing privacy.

Street View The frame structure contrasts with the monolithic character of the surrounding buildings and the closed nature of the facade to the main street allows for privacy and seclusion for the garden spaces.

Timber Mansion Block

Collective housing for later life living

Wojciech Chorzepa

With the growing aging population and the industry-wide debate revolving around the impact of build environment on the climate crisis this year Unit 05 brief poses a lot of important questions in terms of architectural profession response to these problems. The conscious decision to abandon the concrete in favour of timber not only challenges the current stigma of timber construction and its constraints within the existing building regulations but also allows us to explore the new possibilities of designing a residential building considering various advantages of timber in terms of its sustainability, flexibility as well as the incredibly warm and domestic feel of this material. The proposal site located in the dense urban fabric of Chelsea surrounded by rich, heavy masonry context of the late XIX early XX century London creates a dramatic yet challenging background to this year’s explorations. My proposal explored the idea of a contemporary timber mansion block that borrows the elements of typical masonry detailing and translates that into a concrete free structure.

The project continues the unit exploration of an idea of co-living through a series of communal spaces providing an attractive setting for encouraging interactions between them. One of the key challenges this year was to question the role of private and public spaces in a medium-density shared living project as well as the exploration of the architectural language that helps to distinguish them through a change of heights, levels, extended thresholds as well as on a micro-scale by the conscious use of different finishes and detailing. I believe that exploring the questions posed by the brief helped me understand the importance of the impact of our everyday spaces on our life. The future of architecture lies in sustainability and being able to challenge some of these questions through developing a design proposal has been extremely rewarding to me.

The Dialogue Between Gables The Proposal sits in a rich context, tucked between the impressive 62 62b Cadogan Square and St Simon Zelotes Church. The scalloped roof translated the typical mansard of a mansion block into a lighter timber building. Proposed gables help truning corner and create an interesting dialogue between the old and new.

Elevation study Replication of existing horizontal datums helps connecting the proposal with the context. The facade expresion follows the post an slab rule with series of horizontal datums helping to create a rythm and highlighting the flutted detailing of the columns.

Milner Street View 1:20 Model

The diagonal position of the proposal against the context opens up the views towards the Cadogan Square and surrounding roofscapes providing with the enfilade of balconies offering attractive private outdoor spaces for residents. Setting the building back from the Milner Street opens up the space linking the key context elements, creating a entry sequence connecting the proposal and the public realm.

Private Outdoor Spaces The diagonal position of the proposal against the context opens up the views towards the Cadogan Square and surrounding roofscapes providing with the enfilade of balconies offering attractive private outdoor spaces for residents. Setting the building back from the Milner Street opens up the space linking the key context elements, creating a entry sequence connecting the proposal and the public realm.

Public Square The diagonal position of the proposal against the context opens up the views towards the Cadogan Square and surrounding roofscapes providing with the enfilade of balconies offering attractive private outdoor spaces for residents. Setting the building back from the Milner Street opens up the space linking the key context elements, creating a entry sequence connecting the proposal and the public realm.

The communal room NTS

The typical floor plan shows the private quarters distributed evenly around the communal room with the stair. The proposal explores the idea of a communal room as a stair providing an attractive space that encourage socialising among residents. A series of extended tresholds provide a transitioning area between public and and the more domestic private.

A Home is where the dining table is The proposal introduces overlapping spaces withing the private units itself. The flat layouts are oriented around the dining area as a focal point of the flats.

A plaza for people The proposal introduces the transitioning area on a city scale The square created by setting back the proposal connects the scheme with the wider city providing an attractive space for residents as well as members of the public.

Timber Mansion The proposal external timber expression tests how timber can be used in a heavy masonry context. The schemes timber detailing mimics the details on the collumns typical for the area. Generous windows broken down by timber slabs and heavy weight timber collumns allow for plenty of light whilst maintaining the heavy weight feel of the building.

Timber Mansion William Chew

The project is for a timber mansion block catered for elderly living with a focus on collective spaces. The project explores a civic timber tectonic language, seeking to challenge the qualities of civic masonry buildings. This allows the proposal to have a lighter carbon footprint, partly due to the ease of transport, and partly from the cyclical nature of sustainable timber sourcing. It also makes for a physically lighter building, placing less strain on the concrete foundation but still retaining a sense of dignity. The site is in Cadogan Square, an area built predominantly in the Queen Anne style, a rich mix of styles that came before (from Gothic to Flemish Renaissance) with ornate masonry details. There is also a play between red bricks as the basic building material and lighter stones to articulate the bay windows. The roofline of the site is marked by chimneys, gabled facades, and rear extensions that rises above an established cornice line, usually the parapet to the mansard roofs. These elements lends the site a unique masonry character that the project seeks to explore through the use of timber.

Ideas for collective living stemmed from readings of Jacques Lacan, Beatriz Colomina and Jan Gehl. From Lacan, there is the idea of the gaze, of the reciprocal relationship of seeing and being seen. Which Colomina echoes in her writing of Loos’ interiors. She states that the idea of comfort in his rooms are made of ‘two seemingly opposing conditions, that of intimacy and control’. The seating spaces often allows the seated to have a commanding view of the people entering the space, simultaneously, the seating space itself frames the seated, to be viewed by the person entering. From Gehl, It is on the behaviour of people when occupying an public open spaces, he notes that there is a preference to be on the periphery, where one could find a hard boundary to their backs and a view of the place in front. These ideas were brought into the project with hopes that it would allow for a more nuanced use of collective space, where the seating spaces are perhaps less defined by ownership, but rather a temporary use between residents, which gives opportunity for chanced encounters.

Houses in Cadogan Square Norman Shaw

The two houses in this drawing sums up the basic characteristics of the area with pronounced entrance porches, varying bay windows, gabled facades, and proud chimneys.

Timber structure and civic form 1:50 model

A timber frame sketch model hints at the possibility of varying the bay widths, allowing the shorter bays to protrude, participating in a dialogue across the street, and giving a sense of rhythm to the overall form.

A timber mansion 1:200 model

The bay windows were thought of as vertical elements rising above a datum, referencing the neighbouring chimneys, and a setback was introduced initially as a response to the drop in adjacent building height, but later became a way of allowing for some breathing space between buildings.

Cadogan Square elevation The facade composition stems from looking at the formality and informality that the windows on adjacent buildings have. The variations in window proportions implies a certain usage beyond the facade.

Turning a corner 1:50 model

A corner bay window marks the shift between the primary facade language with formal window arrangements towards the secondary facade with an informal nature that is due to the requirements of windows on the internal but also respecting the privacy of adjacent blocks.

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Block Plan 1:500

20 m 10m



Typical floor plan The plan has two double height collective rooms at each ends and is shared between four units. Each unit will have their own private hall space, which then leads into the collective room through two paths, one directly through a door, and another unfolding path through the kitchen.



Unfolding path 1:20 model

The photo shows a view of the kitchen upon entrance of the private flat. The dado panels that continue beyond the kitchen implies a space behind it and leads one into the collective room.

Sweetness and Light Naomi Cohen Benchabo

The Queen Anne style was described by Mark Girouard as epitomizing the notion of ‘Sweetness’ and ‘Light’. The former meant the creation and enjoyment of beauty in all its forms. The latter was the result of intellectual curiosity. As a movement, the Queen Anne managed to successfully establish the place of the ‘artist’ in society – a word that implied the craft of architects, carpenters and painters. The result was a vernacular that was strongly decorative in nature, but nonetheless functional in its ornament. I sought to create a tectonic system using the sensual qualities of timber to create a residential model for later living, in which the thresholds between public and private were blurred. The system would re-interpret a repeated Queen Anne motif, the arch, and therefore celebrate the site’s history as one of ‘Sweetness’ and ‘Light’. The massing aims to respond to the two distinct languages that exist on the proposed site; towards Milner Street, a heavier and more vertical facade element. This responds to the heavy brick-masonry language of number 62, and also sets the scene for a series of setbacks that will make up the facade composition. Perpendicular to this, Clabon Mews, the original coach houses of the mansions facing the square. Their reduced scale demands a different response from massing and architectural language.

The arch as a repetitive element in Queen Anne has the ability to create moments in its facade, whilst also being a tectonic element. Here, a load-bearing arch at ground level accommodates a social moment in the area. The other photograph shows how an arch-profiled bracket holds up a porch so typical of a Queen Anne facade. These instil a sensation of being ‘below’ and ‘within’ the porch – in other words, an outdoor room. From Milner Street, these result in a front-facing repeated arch that conveys similar civic qualities of the adjacent masonry facade. Where Clabon Mews is concerned, the arch is used more as threshold than as a civic language in elevation, thus appeasing the more domestic and reduced scale vernacular. With this in mind, the later-living model proposes to establish a continuous, collective space throughout the building in the form of deck access facing Clabon Mews. This will create a courtyard at ground level, the focal point of connectivity as seen from decks. From within, this is achieved through lightweight casette walls, as well as the load-bearing arches that will subtly establish threshold throughout the living units. The result is a constant connection between private and communal.

The Site

Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge The site overlaps two disparate architectural languages; Milner Street boasts a heavy, masonry, ‘back-of-house’ Queen Anne vernacular. It starkly contrasts with the more subdued, reduced, domestic scale Clabon Mews.

Concept Massing 1:100 Model

Heavier and taller towards Cadogan Square, set back for church reveal, uninterrupted through-way from Milner Street to Clabon Mews, an expressed vertical element which reflects that of 62 Cadogan Square.

Ornamental and Tectonic Repetition in Elevation 1:50 Facade Model

The repetition of the structural system creates a facade of civic interest on Milner Street. The arch profile defines moments across the elevation. A cassette wall set-back from the load-bearing structure creates lightness in the facade as seen on adjacent 60 Cadogan Square; a response to the ‘lightness of Queen Anne’. Rather than having completely solid walls, a glazed, shop-window style partition blurs the boundaries between public and private, within and without.

Load-Bearing System 1:20 Model

The ‘elegance in detail’ that defines the Queen Anne style is strived for through the four-part column, arch-profiled bracket and beam language, repeated as the building’s load-bearing structure. As a result, the timber conveys a civic quality.

Compositional Massing 1:200 Model

The building footprint will create a courtyard at ground level, and a focal point where the mews meet Milner Street. On approach from Cadogan Square, the mass will set back, creating an element of reveal nearing St. Simon Zelote church. This will also provide an exterior ante-entrance for residents, and allow an uninterrupted passageway from Milner Street into Clabon Mews.

Block Plan 1:200

Typical Upper Storey 1:100

Pockets of space within the deck allow for social moments, and partitions between deck and private units comprise of a timberclad ‘plinth’ on which shop-front style glazing ensures flexibility between inside and outside. The ‘plinth’ aligns with the high skirting within the units in order to bring the domesticity of the inside into the communal areas. This enhances the overall communality of programme, and avoids unnerving dead-ends.

A Seamless View from Communal to Private Render in Watercolour

Immediate views out upon entering a unit retains a relationship with the surrounding context. Flexibility of threshold blurs the relationship between communal and private, thereby encouraging social moments. The unit’s programme is defined by the load-bearing elements (columns) and softened by the arch-profiled bracket elements.

Housing in Timber Innovative Housing, Humanistic technology Kieran Gallagar

The clients for the year’s projects were envisioned to be elderly, retired people. We wanted to not only proved them with a home but also a real sense of community. Shared, overlapping spaces were seen to be as crucial as the privacy of the individual apartment. The unit focused on timber as the main construction material enabled us to envision buildings with a lighter environmental footprint. We were intensely aware of the debate regarding the safety issues surrounding the use of timber in tall buildings. We were also able to explore the detailing and material properties of this wonderful, lifeaffirming material.

mews house was by then something of a conceit. The first London underground railway opened in 1863. The main buildings were, from their very beginning, divided into apartments. The mews houses never were required for horse and carriage storage because the whole city was making a transition from privately owned transport to a public, mass transportation system.

Two sites for our interventions were chose: a site in Canonbury in north London and a site near Cadogan Square in Knightsbridge. Opportunities to increase density were seen as a key critical issue.For the apartment building, the site I chose was Shafto Mews adjacent to Cadogan Square. The urban form which configured this site consisted of a large house with service road plus mews house; this originated from times when aristocrats built homes in London with stables for horse and carriage accessed from a service road.

My initial instinct on visiting the site was that the Shafto Mews service road should be changed into an external circulation for pedestrians only. This would obviously be easier to achieve here rather than on Clabon Mews where there are two points of entry. Perhaps the entire service road on Shafto Mews should be roofed over to provide a shopping mall/all-weather space.

By the time Cadogan Square was built, during the era of The Queen Anne revival and Richard Norman Shaw, the typology of main building plus service road plus

In short, the overall spatial configuration of the site was already irrelevant by the time it was built and hence it is now seen as the ideal opportunity to increase the city’s density.

Precedent study for a House The building my group was given to research was Spring House, Cambridge by Colin St John Wilson and Partners. Spatially this was an interesting building in terms of layering through the strategy of cubes within cubes. Critical perspectives emerged through our study; it was felt that the relationship of stair to section and house to garden was open to criticism. The house was felt to be a fascinating example of trabeated structure, trusses and inclined beams leading to a humanistic goal.

House for three people My Initial instinct was that the building should relate to the garden rather than the city. Gabled roofs or a building line brought up to the site perimeterwould create too strong a sense of architectural form. Hipped roofs would suggest a building which merges with the landscape.

House for Three People When considering the internal spaces for this building, it was felt that the communal space was the most important and the way this related to each threshold of the apartments for each resident. These thresholds are expressed as internal balconies, bay windows and changes in level orientatedaround a top-lit space conceived of as an internal piazza or street. There is also a second orientation south toward the garden.

Precedent Study for an Apartment Building As a precedent, I decided to study Odham’s walk in Covent Garden. Drawings allowed me to study the following exemplary features: external routes were provided to all apartments – 30 staircases in all; all entrances overlook shared public space, be it street or square; all apartments larger than 2 bedrooms have own private external garden; pin wheel symmetry was used though-out; light wells and diagonal axis are key components of compositional strategy; the project is based on a 5 metre grid which is sometimes subverted; diagonal views are allowed in section; buildings bridge over ground at first floor level.

Plans I felt that Cadogan Mews apartments should be a mixed-use project, with retail on the ground floor and apartments and shared spaces above. Spatially this project would be very different from projects which express an extreme sense of confinement. All apartments would have dual frontage, allowing at least one faรงade to experience an orientation towards natural light.

Cadogan Square Apartments Technical Study My initial studies focused on the nature of trabeated construction carried out in timber and the detailing qualities this allowed.

Cadogan Square Apartments Technical Study This detail focused on using timber as a form of rainscreen cladding with steel trim used as a string course acting as drainage and fire apron at each level.

The tectonic language of timber A scheme to tackle loneliness Florence Grace Drennan

This project examines the civic quality of timber by proposing a residential block, with both collective and residential space in central London intended for later life living. I felt passionate about challenging social issues within my architecture when reviewing the brief. Within the British population “the number of over-50s experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025� (Guardian 2019.) While there are mental health implications, lonely people are also more likely to suffer from physical ailment including heart disease, dementia and strokes. I therefore set an objective of investigating how design methods could be implemented to prompt neighbourly interactions improving the social outlook for the elderly occupants. The site was at Shafto Mews, Kensington which is characterised by Victorian red brick mansions. I therefore felt brick an important material to feature within my timber structure. I reviewed timber/brickwork hybrid construction precedents including works by Louis Kahn and their duality creates an interesting and distinctive heavy and lightweight textural contrast which I found characterful. I therefore saw this as a worthwhile approach to underpin to my design. Upon beginning the project I wanted to particularly

focus on how the timber tectonic language internally could divide spaces off circulation into sociable pockets, whether through joinery or structural divisions with hope these areas would form connection creating mutual support and friendship amongst residents. Additional I also wanted to create pockets of space created by timber bay windows. Bay windows are part of the defining architectural vocabulary of the street, and wider context of Kensington, and I wanted to explore how their functions can vary to create both public and also intimate spaces.


The Interior

1:200 Typical Plan The plan allowed for me to apply my ideas of spatial hierarchy forming select pockets of communal space. Each flat entrance lies off circulation, which overlaps with a modest communal area, designated for both collective and individual activity. The oak glued laminated columns and stair joinery reference a divide between these spaces, without the need of solid walls. This overlap of circulation and communal is deliberate to increase neighbourly encounters.

The Interior 1:20 Model

The stair joinery provides a visual separation between the seating area and circulation, whilst maintaining a visual connection between both. If a resident walks past whilst a neighbour occupies the space, this could either prompt a greeting, or develop into deeper conversation. Depending on the length of their exchange, the resident has option to sit and join their neighbour in this communal area.
























The Interior

1:200 Ground Floor Plan The ground floor plan allowed for me to apply my ideas of connection to the wider context. The negative spaces created by the brick piers at ground level provide space for planting and seating, enabling both direct and indirect interaction with passers by. The through route also allows for an integration between the existing Mews Residents, the surrounding community and the scheme’s occupants, acting as a conversation facilitator.

Massing Studies 1:100 Models

When relating the plan to the exterior, the function of the bay windows allocated to each residence and communal space was important. The initial massing studies allowed for me to play with the bay windows positioning allowing for them to projects and recede at important points based on orientation and room use such as public vs. private.

Concept Massing 1:100 Model

The timber bay windows project and recede within the negative spaces created by the brick piers which the timber building’s structure connects into internally. These piers are designed to be reminiscent of the surrounding stepped, decorative brickwork that defines the chimneys of the street.


Elevation Studies

Elevation originally drawn 1:100, Detail 1:20 An elevation drawing focusing on the brick piers reduction in width up the elevation to reduce load, which in turn allows for wider bays at higher levels. While focusing on the elevation I studied how the timber bays will intersect with these piers, which resulted in the idea of steps in the outer brick leaf skin creating the ideal bearing for the external bay structure to connect into.

Street View: The Approach 1:50 Model

The model describes heavy weight brick piers, with projecting and receding lightweight timber bay structures. The duality of these materials aimed to created an ‘architectural fortress’, which I feel is a key attribute to my building. The bricks are representative of security and safety, and the lightweight timber expressed both externally and internally provide comfort and warmth. I feel these two attributes lend themselves to housing for older people, where both reassurance and comfort are desirable attributes.

A Welcoming Home Alex Fordham

In conjunction with the units investigation into timber as a primary construction method, my project also looks to challenge communal interactions within a shared tower block environment. Design ideas have been derived from a group precedent study of Colin St. John Wilson’s Spring House, which were then applied to the first semester project ‘A House for Three People’. The project ‘A Welcoming Home’ aims to promote greater engagement between residents of a shared accommodation and provide opportunities for these interactions at different scales. Additionally the project seeks to create comfortable private dwellings for the residents, that are not only suitable for the lifestyles of the elderly but are also an attractive destination for their retirement. Three key themes originating from Spring House, were established to achieve the ambitions of the design: A Courtyard Plan, Cross-Connecting Levels and Large Welcoming Spaces. The Courtyard Plan By placing the individual dwellings around a courtyard with the circulation between, the residents can achieve a connection to one another while in their homes. From a passing neighbour or a wave across the courtyard, a social and community environment is established throughout.

Cross-Connecting Levels To challenge the typical conventions of a tower block and familiarity with only your floor, the project looks for opportunities for residents of multiple floors to interact through double height communal spaces. Large Welcoming Spaces To contrast typical small private spaces within a shared accommodation setup, the project aims to provide large comfortable spaces. These spaces will make the private dwellings more luxurious but also enable residents space to invite each other in to their homes and facilitate more private interactions for the residents.

A House for Three People 1:10 Model

The key themes were initially applied to the first semester project, with three dwellings located around a courtyard room. The private dweelings were split over half levels with views through to the communal spaces on the ground and first floors.

Block Plan

The Courtyard Plan NTS

Individual dwellings have been placed around a communal courtyard, with circulation spaces as an intermediary between. Each dwelling therefore has a view inwards to the courtyard and the circulation around to encourage social interaction.

Inward Facing 1:50 Model

A timber post and beam language is utilised around the courtyard, which differs to the cross-laminated timber of the dwellings. This facilitates a connection to the courtyard throughout all levels of the design, with ‘Y’ frames indicating the communal rooms.

Cross-Connecting Levels The communal rooms are located on every second floor of the building to be used by residents of two floors. The ‘Y’ frame is used on the second storey of each communal room to help draw the residents of the upper down to the room.

Extending the Communal The rooms are only accessible on the lower floor which therefore encourages residents of the upper and lower floors to interact with one another. The large room provides space for social dining and activities as well as reading areas.

Welcoming Spaces The dwellings are formed in a CLT panel construction, with highlevel beams used to reduce the walls within the plan. This helps to keep the plan open and free to move through, additionally defining the internal spaces and separating larger rooms into small moments.

Facade and the Street The front facade is comprised of a timber frame system with horizontals taken from the mansion block to the left, and verticals framing the openings. The building is split in to four separate height blocks that rise and fall to sit within its context.

Timber Mansion Collective House for later life living.

Valerija Kamolina

The location is based from 4 existing mews housing in two position near Cardogan Square, Kensington, London. Being in a heavy masonry London aesthetic the proposal of timber as a primary structure to create a more sustainable footprint. Exploring specific spaces that are communal compared to private spaces of comfort. In reaction to the brief, as much light into the interior spaces is needed for elderly living to not feel claustrophobic in a busy always moving to city. From choosing the Southern site on Milner street, Clabon Mews location where the main façade is facing north and is in be-tween a London red brick mansion on the left and a stone church on the right. This gave an opportunity to play with different heights of the proposal and the heights within the interior for a connection between apartments almost giving a sense of community. In the proposal there is double height balcony that is shared with the above apartments. This was a main aspect of a communal space that I wanted to explore in my project. The balcony is to have a space that is light up the corridor and the middle of the shared apartment as well as a space that feels like the residents are outside and have an large open space with the opposite of their units being small and private.

Using CLT (cross-laminated timber), a revolutionary material for constructing a tall building from sustainable wood. The building construction is almost like a ‘house of cards’ means that it the connections are the focus of the structure. I have chosen CLT as it is simple for construction and wanted to explore the possible spaces able to create a more open commu-nal spaces for residents to interact.

Site exploration This is a Massing collage of exploring what timber building could pootentially go on ythe site.

Massing model study This was a scaled model of 1:200 exploring the heights and the potential façade structure. Thinking of double height balcony’s but for single units this was too thin.

Sketch study This was the initial idea of having a double space balcony.



First Floor Plan 1:200

There are about 6 units on each floor with about 20msq space. Two communal balconies of each floor with one being open and the other more of a social gathering space that lights up a corridor.

Facade study 1:100 Model

This was exploring the openings of the facade as well the timber panelling. The opening were arranged in a way that there was some space to breath for the timber over lapping panels to be visible.

Interior Collage Both images represent the double height balcony of how it could be used as social gathering space.

Exterior Model 1:100 Model Recreating the view of looking onto the site of Milner street with the final timber panelling being different between openings. The proposed building on the street view has different levels so I wanted the panelling to blend in to the context.

The Thresholds Between

Collective housing for later life living

Amber Lines

A dominant issue in the debate surrounding later life living is how to construct a housing environment for the elderly that allows both collective living and full autonomy. This project looks closely at the three key thresholds which are significant in creating a comfortable living environment and how to express these thresholds by using different languages of timber. Collective Survey responses from the target audience reflected current views on co-housing and the main concerns relate to keeping privacy and independent living. Spring House, by Colin St John Wilson, focuses on the central sunken entertainment space and its relationship with the adjacent rooms on both ground and gallery level. Continuity of the timber tectonic, from ground to first and internal to external, connect these pockets of space. These ideas have been carried forward to ensure the collective room subtly but successfully defines boundaries between communal and private. Private It’s important to give the end user a voice in the design and especially with elderly co-housing, downsizing and losing their family home is physically and mentally challenging. Maintaining autonomy of living reduces possible anxiety and loss of control.

City The site, Shafto Mews, is located on Cadogan Square in Kensington so it is densely surrounded by rich masonry architecture. Curious stepped forms are evident throughout the area, whether this be through a change of storeys or addition of bays, adding depth to façades. Continuation of these lines and steps ground the mass and connects the facade back to the interior.

Framing the collective The communal areas fit in the void spaces between the arrangement of the units with columns and beams highlighting the thresholds. The frame vs. solid language is explicit and allows continuity of tactility throughout the interior. Varying floor finishes and the use of furniture as translucent walls also signal where the collective boundary ends and the private units begin.

Softening thresholds Like the Spring House plan, the ground floor here guides users of the building from the city (Cadogan Square) to the collective (the circulation core and places of rest) and to the private ( the residential units). Eliminating corridors highlights the collective room and combining this space with the circulation creates a natural and regularly encountered space.



Window to the city Furniture and floor detail subtly signify a change in privacy and the unit entrance becomes an extension from the semi private lobby. Direct views connect out to the city but as you go further into the room, it is more private. The unit design addresses resident ideals. For example, there are large spaces for comfortable accessibility, plenty of storage for adjusting to downsizing and provision for less mobile residents like the walk in seated shower space and a spare room which could become a second bedroom for regular family visits.

A bay room The corner window becomes key in connecting the private back to the city and because of the variance in light quality compared to the rest of space, it forms a separate bay room. The “Bailie Scott� window seat encloses the bay and adds a feeling of warmth to contrast the exposure.

Prominent mass Initial form and massing followed the ideas of panelled modular construction which reflected in a not-so-successful form which cut the continuous street line. Developments reflected back to the context and visioning the form as one rather than a collection of buildings. The final outcome presented to be more prominent alongside the context, specifically at ground and first floor.

Layered facade Expression of the facade connects back to the interior, layering solid and frame both horizontally and vertically. The relationship and emphasis of these lines connects back to the arrangement of openings or datums seen throughout the context. The precedents show how playing with the panel’s width and height can create different overall building scales.

Stepped street elevation The initial site observations of stepping scale and form are incorporated along the street elevation. And although the existing gate to the mews has been removed, a similar entrance has been recreated which allows continuation of the stepped brick street line.

Timber Mansions A Cosy Place

Andrada Luca

The number of people aged over 65 is forecast to rise over by 2.6 million in the next decade. Is it well known that London is in urgent need of a more variety of housing options that will meet a variety of lifestyles. My project offers an alternative to traditional retirement homes by proposing a house for up to 50 active senior citizens that might want to keep close connections with others, without sacrificing their privacy. The proposal wants to be respectful of the unique site characteristics, moreover to contribute to the rich historical architectural context with an innovative timber expression that reflects its current times. The project explores the language of timber that suggest contrasting conditions for internal and external space cosy/intimate and open, heavyweight and lightweight, private and communal. The spatial and structural concept is inspired by Brummel House interior designed by Adolf Loos. Private studios are contained into a heavyweight structure that creates an intimate, cosy atmosphere enforced by the interior timber language of dark panels in contrast with white walls. As an extension to this space, sits the doubleheight, semi-private space framed by the bay windows in a lightweight stud work timber expression.

The proposed building wants to appear as a mansion block. Its volume relates to the fragmentation of the view in a solid and void rhythm. The archway is integrated into the facade design and represents the connecting element between street and mews.

Concept Massing

1:100 Model and Perspective Drawing The dominant front bay windows are relating to the verticality conferred by the chimneys and also is relating to the front archway composition. Horizontally the balcony parapets are relating to the existing context and soften the verticals. The bay windows are a stud work lightweight structure clad in timber and can be provided with folding shading panels.

Street View

Perspective Drawing The proposal is integrating the existing archway into its facade expression, enhancing its importance to the mews by making it the gateway into a vibrant sequence of gardens that can be used by all residents and the public. The archway is the landmark entrance for the Timber Mansion, and the Mews and also for proposed ground-floor urban facilities such as coffee shop-library, social clubs and essential store.

Typical Lower Floor 1:50 Floor Plan

The typical lower floor is wanted to feels like a single house where the “rooms� are private studios or apartments. The threshold between private and communal space within a mansion block is promoting a sense of community while the passing circulation spaces are converted into communal areas. The transition from private to communal is made trough intermediate areas categorised as semi-private and semi-public instead of the traditional sterile corridor.

Gathering Corridor 1:20 Model

The interior timber language is defined by the structural elemnts that that define the private and comunal space- lightwight bay window frame in for the gahtering spaces, in contrast with decorative wood pannels that cover the heavyweight structure of the studio appartments.

Upper Typical Floor 1:50 Floor Plan

At this floor the two appartments are designed for people who would like more than one room available to them and also if they need more privacy.

Looking Into The Corridor 1:20 Model

From the upper floor kitchen and room, one can look down and interact with the neighbours who are sitting or just passing by.

Layers in timber Xingjian Fan

The lived-in Cullinan House with simple layout shows complicated everydayness. The timber structure is like a shell extended from the concrete frame, providing a series of smaller pocket spaces. The potential for making extension is closely related to the use of timber as a versatile material. After the main structure was made, shelves were hang from the timber beam, a drawing table was attached to the timber worktop, storage space was found between joists. Years after the completion, Cullinan was still able to adjust his initial design. Although the layout follows an open-plan principle, it was the spatially-awareness during the “events” and “activities” that define the sizes of the “rooms”. This thesis project continues this layering language on three levels: 1. external timber frame with panel infill as a piece of relief for the city 2. box compartments attached to the living corridor 3. furniture extended from exposed structure Close attention was paid to form and volume of timber elements, mass timber post and flat

plywood for example. The project explores the spatial quality defined by layers of timber, which allows dwellers to adjust the use of the space and explore their potential. It aims to make a transition from a civic figure to domestic cosiness.

Transition in urban massing 1:100 model The project focuses on challenging the existing tradition of making multi-storey timber buildings. It departs from using timber as an alternative to concrete and steel to form frame structure and explores other architectural qualities of the material. Apart from forming the skeleton of the building, special attention is given to making a civic faรงade with timber expression.

Grid and relief 1:50 model Mansion blocks in Cadogan Square share a similar facade language. Within the middle 'body' part, the decorative columns with capital are repeated every floor to provide horizontal divisions. Windows together with the reliefs above are read as infills to the grid. When these elements are expressed in timber, this relationship between solid and void forms the primary language for the proposal.

Civic timber faรงade 1:50 model Sitting next to the masonry mansion block, the proposal has a similar vertical division: podium, body, roof. The exposed frame language is inspired by the figure-ground reading of the openings on the solid faรงade, a rhythm of windows. Panelling allows timber to gain heavier visual weight as solids.


A collective house typical floor plan This project aims to celebrate the living corridor with corners expanded into the common space. The arrangement encourages connection as well as time-spending outside bedrooms, addressing the loneliness issue in later-life living.





Precedent study: Cullinan House in Camden Mews 1:20 model The potential for making extension is closely related to the use of timber as a versatile material. After the main structure was made, shelves were hang from the timber beam, drawing table was attached to the timber worktop, storage space was found between joists. Years after the completion, Cullinan was still able to adjust his initial design.

Furniture extension 1:50 model The glulam beams serve as intervals along the corridor and furniture could be attached as spatial devices to further define the character of each segment of communal space. At a human scale, timber is integrated into the spatial experience.

Living with timber 1:20 model The project celebrates timber in different scales. Reference is made to the principle Gerrit Rietveld used in furniture making. Within the timber frame, spatial devices are inserted as a second layer to build spatial experience. It allows for a clear reading of the tectonics and personal attachment to the place when interacting with the interior.

House for Three Joao Amaral dos Santos

In this project, I focused on the main communal space and how the 3 rooms would connect to it. I decided to have a the communal space in the middle with the 3 rooms organized in a C-shaped plan. This communal space has a double-height window refered as “communal window� that faces the garden. This communal window is used as a tool to connect the 3 rooms to the main space. By doing so, this allowed the communal space to look bigger than it actually is, as the window extends to its adjacent rooms.

1:20 Model The main communal space with the communal window facing the garden

1:20 Model Views from the rooms where we can see how the windows are a continuation of the communal window.

1:20 Model Views from the rooms where we can see how the windows are a continuation of the communal window.

1:20 Model The communal window wrapping and turning corners connecting all the adjacent rooms.

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London Metropolitan Architecture School- Postgraduate Unit 5 2019/20  

This year’s programme considered the implication construction methods and materials have on the landscape, exploring the tectonics of timber...

London Metropolitan Architecture School- Postgraduate Unit 5 2019/20  

This year’s programme considered the implication construction methods and materials have on the landscape, exploring the tectonics of timber...


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