Situated in Dartmouth Park, North-West London, The Arches comprises six contemporary terraced townhouses, beautifully nestled near the renowned Grove Terrace.
The DHaus Company drew inspiration from the historic green lung along Highgate Road, aiming to reconnect the two adjacent public green areas. The vision was to reinstate the green space as it existed in 1873, creating a futuristic Victorian tribute.
An Architectural Buffer and Victorian Homage
The development features six mews houses concealed behind a newly established green space, presenting a single-story facade along Highgate Road. This design ensures an uninterrupted green line when viewed from the street. The houses’ entrances on College Lane enhance the Victorian architectural grain, harmonizing with the neighboring historic cottages.
Contextual Response and Ingenious Design
The architects carefully addressed the feedback from the Local Design Review Panel, a group of local academics, planners, architects, and designers. They incorporated arches made of local London stock brick, paying homage to the area’s color palette and the railway arches that grace the vicinity. By referencing the surrounding infrastructure, such as tunnels and bridges, the architecture seamlessly integrates into its context.
An Exploration of Context and Radical Architecture
While the architects had previously explored the rejection of context for experimental designs, The Arches project allowed them to embrace both elements simultaneously. The surrounding context sparked a radical exploration of architectural possibilities.
Inspired by Neoclassical British Architecture
A thorough examination of the local buildings within Dartmouth Park Conservation Area informed the design process. The architecture exhibits elements of Neo-Classical British design, evoking the classical Venetian Pallazzo and the architectural language of Palladian and Inigo Jones. Rectangles and arches, set within a brick canvas, mirror the prevalent architectural style in the area.
Enhancing Light and Creating Green Havens
The new houses are situated marginally higher than the original petrol station, enabling ample light to reach neighboring Denyer House’s ground floor windows. A green roof spans all the houses, offering a picturesque view of wildflowers and greenery for residents. This eco-friendly feature creates a habitat for diverse bird and insect wildlife.
Revitalizing a Neglected Area
During the public consultation phase, community feedback highlighted that the vacant, graffiti-covered petrol station attracted antisocial behavior. Completing the new homes on College Lane is expected to bring life to this previously abandoned and sometimes unsafe part of the neighborhood, contributing to its vibrancy.
Sustainable Construction Methods
Removal of the 1950s petrol station offered an opportunity to clean up the contaminated site. The architects prioritized timber-framed construction and utilized reinforced concrete retaining walls for the subterranean structure. Prefabricated timber elements were assembled on-site, while lightweight steel cross bracing supported the majestic arches. The incorporation of rainwater harvesting and photovoltaics added sustainability to the homes.
Aesthetic Harmony and Differentiation
The facade boasts Ibstock Bexhill Red Multi bricks, with varied brick bonding patterns to delineate distinct areas and provide visual cohesion. The arches, manufactured off-site using concrete and clad with brick slips, lend an exquisite touch to the architectural composition.
Thoughtful Dwellings and Optimal Layouts
Each of the spacious houses covers approximately 130 sqm2 and comprises 3/4 bedrooms, a study, and a garden room. With entrances from College Lane, the dwellings offer a similar layout, accommodating the sloping terrain with either flush or stepped entrances. Front gardens incorporate private bin storage and lightwells, illuminating the lower ground floor rooms facing College Lane.
Basements, Living Spaces, and Tranquil Gardens
The lower ground level houses two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a lightwell facing College Lane, while the basement level features an open-plan living and kitchen space. Opening onto the sunken rear garden, the living spaces enjoy privacy and ample natural light, despite their proximity to the main road.
The Arches gracefully combines heritage, contextual sensitivity, and sustainable practices, creating a modern living environment rooted in history and respect for the surrounding community.
Architect: The DHaus Company
Images: Richard Chivers and Matthew White