Architects Feilden Clegg Bradley (FCBa) more than satisfied a challenging brief when designing the award-winning Bennets Courtyard, a mixed-use residential and commercial project. The developments riverside site lies at the heart of a Listed Arts and Crafts building complex, near a thriving craft market and close to the well-known and well-used cultural centre of Merton Abbey Mills, in Wimbledon, South London.
The client (Countryside Properties) and the local authority (Merton Borough Council), had high aspirations for the design quality of the development, wanting to minimise negative impact on the local historic and natural environment whilst creating a new landmark building.
The project - comprising 52 residential units with commercial space below - had to complement the eclectically historic urban environment whilst providing a contemporary transition between the old quarter and further planned development.
The result is a sustainable and integrated piece of urban planning comprising a central three-storey villa enclosed by two four-storey blocks, with internal winter gardens providing both circulation routes and community spaces.
The building has Secured by Design status and achieved an Ecohomes rating of Good through the use of high quality materials specified for their low embodied energy and durability, and which were also recyclable and non-harmful to the environment.
A striking feature of the development is the extensive use of glazing. Large windows deliver a visually distinctive exterior, and provide a dramatic counterpoint to the finishing brickwork whilst also naturally illuminating and ventilating internal spaces. Each apartment features a floor to ceiling window opening onto a terrace or French balcony, significantly increasing the light levels inside each room.
Challenging specification. The use of extensive glazing was challenging. Main contractor Wates Construction had to find a supplier capable of meeting both the stringent minimum u-value rating of 1.6W/m²K required, and the more demanding criteria of 1.2W/m²K for two of the more exposed apartments.
FCBa architect Julia Kashdan-Brown commented: VELFAC windows were able to supply windows to meet both U-value ratings, which allowed us to use the same window system throughout the building. This ensured that the façade sightlines remained consistent throughout the project.
Richard Shroll of Wates Construction added: Given the volumes required, it was a struggle to find a supplier capable of delivering what we needed. VELFAC was the only supplier who could meet the basic specification with their standard argon-filled double-glazed units, and also supply units to meet the tougher specification.
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