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Effra Road

"IBLA's south London affordable housing development uses a notched terrace design to deftly articulate a dynamic streetscape while introducing higher densities of housing"

Ellis Woodman, Building Design


The scheme proposes 43 affordable housing units and includes a relatively high proportion of family (three bedroom) accommodation. The site is ‘landlocked’, surrounded on three sides by existing residential properties and accessed via a narrow access road. This clearly presents difficulties in dealing with neighbour issues, although also presents the opportunity to build family housing away from a main road while being within 5 minutes walk of a town centre.


Our response to the site was to create a small entrance yard at the end of the access road leading on to a mews which bisects the site. Two 3 and 4-storey flatted blocks define the northern and eastern edges of the entrance courtyard, while the mews is lined on both sides with a series of ‘stacked maisonette’ units. This allowed us to provide a coherent layout in terms of fronts and backs, matching proposed back gardens to existing back gardens on the site boundary.


The stacked maisonette units were influenced by Peter Barber’s ‘Donnybrook Quarter development’ in which a 2-storey maisonette is placed on top of a single storey flat. The maisonette is accessed via a stair leading to a private roof terrace within the ‘slots’ between the dwellings.  We identified this model at an early stage as a way of providing front doors and private gardens to all the family units whilst maintaining an appropriate density for a town centre site.


Perhaps because of the length of the access road, we were concerned to maintain the presence of the development to the city, and to minimise the sense of dislocation that sometimes comes with estates disconnected from streets. To this end, this unit type offers the possibility that most of the units would be accessed directly off the mews.


From a sustainability point of view, the building is timber framed and clad in lightweight materials to minimise weight and therefore foundations. The cladding is a combination of timber board cladding on ‘outer faces’ and richly coloured render defining the private terraces. We adopted an energy strategy of strong passive measures, in terms of insulation and airtightness, in order to reduce the energy demand of the development. On-site renewables are provided in the form of solar hot water panels used to provide communal heating to the units.

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