The premise for the proposed scheme is relatively simple – provide workshops that enrich the community by creating a dialogue with residences.
It is evident that the inhabitants of Seething Wells are not the straightforward, stereotypical suburban group. Largely owing to the State of Seething there is a strong sense of community. They share a communal desire to revel in the accomplishments of residents. This was a driving focus whilst the designs developed.
The wider Surbiton and Kingston area has a rich history of light industry and manufacturing. One that, by all accounts, the local authority is keen to celebrate. This resonated with my own view of the localities history. During the middle of the last Century it was a centre of motor racing endeavours. Formula 1 World Champions, Le Mans Winners, Rally Greats and icons of the motor industry have all been created within the vicinity. The story of the Cooper’s especially grabbed my attention. From a workshop located exactly one mile away from our site they revolutionised motor racing and created an icon of the automotive industry – the Mini Cooper.
All of these influences affected the tectonic response to differing degrees.
At ground level the proposed function is commercial. Shops in the front block face the High Street. Workshop units occupy the spaces of both blocks around the quadrangle. The existing motor mechanics building, constructed of steel trusses, corrugated metal roof and brick external walls, is retained. In response to this, the primary structure for the ground level of the proposal is Steel frame and composite concrete metal deck floor. The steel frame facilities non-load bearing internal walls. An aspect that would allow future iterations of the building to expand or contract within these workshop spaces as necessity dictated.
Insulated precast concrete panels create the external envelope at ground floor. These elements include large format openings to form the shop fronts to Brighton Road and access to the rear units.
The quadrangle courtyard is a working area. Paved in hard wearing stone reminiscent of Victorian courtyards it is intended to develop a patina from the light industrial operations that take place. Cast Iron grilles cover drainage channels. These disperse water away from the thresholds towards a centrally located water harvesting tank. The tank has a capacity of 24.5m3 which is equivalent to 5% of the annual collection from the roof surfaces. This forms part of a Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS). The water will be non-potable and available for both residential and commercial use.
From First Floor level a new tectonic was chosen to differentiate the environments. Cross Laminated Timber was selected, contrasting its warmth with the commercial language of the ground floor. This method of construction is increasingly regular, with several larger scale housing schemes recently appearing in the borough of Hackney alone. It presents a number of areas where the design has to be particularly stringent in order to satisfy regulation. Approved Document Part A tends to be assessed on an individual project basis; as the current regulations are focused on masonry construction. In order to satisfy Part B, Fire and Safety, the proposal will need to achieve a minimum of 30 minutes’ fire resistance to allow evacuation. This can be attained by considering the charring rate and structural integrity of CLT. In relation to Part L, CLT performs well as it has a good U value and solid, air tight construction. In terms of Part E, Resistance to Sound, the detailing of party walls will need to include insulation and plasterboard to correctly attenuate sound travel to appropriate levels.
The sinusoidal Fibre Cement cladding mediates between the London stock brick of the Eastern context and the white render of Galloway house to the West. It is fixed on cross battens to form a ventilated cavity and allow water to drain. Strategic openings punched through the facade are filled with Crittall type windows. These are immediately associated with a wider industrial language. In this situation they are a direct reference to the Cooper workshop at Hollyfield Road, where the 2015 listing makes note of the early use of unitised double height aluminium glazing. In order to conform to Part L they will need to be Double Glazed units in thermally broken frames.
The bottom row of windows open to allow for natural cross ventilation, encouraged by double height spaces.
The galvanised, box profile, steel roof sheets are raised and fixed on Z Purlins. This decision was made to metaphorically connect the retained garage with the new construction. These sheets create an overhang where a gutter is fixed at eaves level. Downpipes drain water behind the cladding.
The proposals are heated with via a central bank of Air to Source heat pumps, located in the corner of the quadrangle. Services enter the residential buildings through channels in the floor build up and are taken to the utility rooms. Under floor heating is used in zones to provide controllable heating to all rooms.
The concept, spatial arrangement and tectonic detail of the proposals are designed to evoke references to Surbiton’s light industrial heritage. Commercial and Residential are coerced into dialogue. The access lift, stairs and deck provide a physical link, with the latter acting as a pseudo viewing platform. This is intended as a catalyst to promote community through the interaction of realms.