House to Catch the Heath 


Camden, London


Structural Engineer:
Elliott Wood

Quantity Surveyors:
Baillie Knowles Partnership

Main Contractor:



The site contains an existing three storey detached house on a private cul-de-sac near to Hampstead Heath in Camden, London. The small cul-de-sac of six dwellings was constructed in the mid 1960's. The immediate area is made up largely of individual dwellings in a loose suburban layout and of a predominantly contemporary and modernist style. The area also contains period properties but in a much lesser capacity.

Our clients wanted to create a new build family home to replace the existing dwelling on the site. The design of the new dwelling will look to create a more fitting design that utilises and responds to the existing site conditions.

Design Brief

Our proposal for a contextually modern three storey building looks to create a more fitting design, that responds and utilises the existing site conditions, whilst also responding to the immediate characteristics of the site and context.

The scheme has been designed to make the most efficient use of the site while respecting the privacy of the neighbouring dwellings and adjacent Private Open Space designation. Additional floor space utilises the topographical slope of the site through extending the low level without significantly increasing the visual bulk of the building.

The trees along the boundaries will be retained and a new landscape scheme will be provided.

The overall height of the proposed building will be inline with the existing building to further retain the overall visual mass of the building.

Proposed Mass + Form

The proposed building follows similar principles to the existing building in its mass and form.

The proposed building shares a volumetric clarity with the existing and surrounding buildings as it is made up of a number of different elements with differing heights, visually breaking up the building mass and provides a significantly superior solution to the existing building.

The proposed building follows the floor and finished roof heights of the existing and adjoining buildings, with the majority of the building being above the ground floor level.

The proposed building will create a greater amount of floor space by incorporating the majority of it within the lower ground floor level and will be formed by excavating part of the site, utilising the natural slope of the land without significantly increasing the visual mass and form of the building.

The building is of contemporary design with simple clean lines and contemporary materials of predominantly vertical bronze fin fenestration, brickwork and glazing that not only makes the form and mass of the building harmonious with the adjoining buildings but also breaks up the overall visual mass.

Garden Space

With the close proximity of the surrounding buildings it is important the new design carefully considered the position of the new building and the relationship to the quality and connectivity of the private garden spaces around.

The position of the existing building and that of the neighbouring creates a generous pocket of open garden space. The proposals respect this concept and through split-level living and garden/terrace levels allow excellent visual and physical connectivity to the private garden spaces.

A more transparent lower ground floor level allows both a visual and physical link from the main lower garden to two new private courtyard spaces. This transparency and connection also allows the garden space to be woven into the lower ground floor level and visually increases the size of the garden areas.

Material + Energy Efficiency

The external finishes of the existing house are dark grey asphalt roof, brickwork walls and vertical timber cladding with a dark grey / black stain.

The existing windows and doors consist of single glazed aluminium and doubled glazed Upvc. The existing house is un-insulated and the overall heating system is no longer fit for purpose.

The aim is therefore to create a new, well crafted, energy efficient house that makes a positive contribution to its setting.

The external materials for the new building takes reference from the surrounding context and the existing building and comprise a mixed light buff brickwork, with a bronzed anodised fenestration. The flat roof areas will comprise of dark grey to the First Floor and a green-planted roof to the Ground Floor.

The creation of place

The key driver within our design response to the brief has been the aim to create a sense of place.

The proposals are responsive to its neighbourhood and looks to maximise the opportunities for the owners in a mutually beneficial way.

The height and massing of the proposed house matches that of its neighbours and the existing building and its modern vernacular is human in scale and proportion.