A country escape in the city

Tim Metcalfe
Tuesday 05 Oct 2010

PTEa transforms derelict site in Muswell Hill into award winning residential scheme

PTEa has developed this site through a subsidiary company Connaught House Developments (a joint venture between PTE Property and Guild Developments) after the firm won planning permission for seven contemporary townhouses on this unique steeply sloping site near Highgate Woods. When approaching the houses, the Northern elevation is most prominent, the form and materials relating to the wooded hillside. The individual houses are merged to suggest a ‘building in the woods' and are faced with a staggered butt cedar shingle, like the bark of a tree.

The southern elevation in contrast relates to the black and white ‘Tudorbethan' vernacular of immediate neighbours, where black windows and doors sit in a white rendered terrace. The section of the typical house was carefully articulated to benefit from views, orientation and the dramatic level changes across the site. Houses are entered at upper ground level across an implied bridge with glazed screens providing glimpses of the garden beyond. Access to the garden is provided by a winding timber stair, to a lower ground storey, partly excavated to maximise the use of the slope.

The roof eaves are stopped short of a conventional ridge, where a hidden roof terrace provides large amenity space and dramatic long views. Here a fully glazed lantern provides south light to the living spaces on the northern side of the building. The eyrie-like quality of the attic rooms are popular children's rooms with low level windows to the garden, and ceilings which follow the roof slope to provide high level light through clerestory glazing.

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United Kingdom

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