Church Wall House
A new sustainable residence delicately weaved into a woodland site adjacent to a Grade II listed church in North London.
By embracing the full constraints of a difficult site, the design works to the strengths of modern construction methods and sustainable materials. Core principles focus on positive impact to the existing mature trees; improving outlook for the neighbours, and use of heritage materials derived from the Listed church.
The triangular site and position of the trees allow for three single storey volumes, linked by glass corridors. The first volume contains the living spaces, with volumes increasingly private as we move further from the road. Natural limestone walls face towards neighbours and the church, while darker blackened steel infills are orientated towards the road.
Either side of the volumes, the stone walls are deliberately pronounced, a hint to the historic boundary wall with the church. The set back position and black steel aid to camouflage the building in the landscape, encouraging planting to cascade down from the lush green roof above or climb up without affecting its integrity.
Screw piles allow for a concrete-less foundation, suspending the building off the ground and not impacting on tree roots. The green roof provides attenuation, before discharging rainwater past permeable terraces to ensure an uninterrupted route towards the roots. The internal structure of the building is a single modular and fully insulated timber cassette system.
These lightweight modules are constructed off site and require simple hand tools to assemble. Similarly, the stone blocks are sized to maximise installation efficiency, while the rough sawn tactile nature that is inherent in the extraction process is the final finish, further limiting the manufacturing intensity and lowering the carbon footprint.
Internally, a limited palette of natural lime plaster and oak panels encourage light and texture through each of the three volumes, with intuitive orientations towards each of their respective private courtyards. Discrete full height glazing is detailed into the building envelope, disappearing altogether from the inside and curating views out. Skylights in bathrooms invite the gaze up towards the tree canopy, creating incredibly private spaces with a strong link to nature.
The building's split form and natural material selection are an open dialogue with the surroundings and respect the significance of such a proposal.