In the Highgate area of London, architects converted a former mews house into a new residential property between November 2014 and October 2015. This two-storey housing project in North London faces a quiet cobbled mews, at the rear of a listed building. It sits amongst a patchwork of rear fenced off gardens, garages, mews houses and rear extensions.
Originally a decrepit backland area of run down and disused garages and a haven for crime and fly tipping, the location is now gradually developing into a secluded residential enclave. To support this, Wienerberger’s Marziale brick (with a surface treatment) was selected for all external and internal structural walls, which give the impression of a weathered, traditional brick.
The designers planned to build a two-storey house with an area of 70 square metres on a site of a mere 90 square metres. The challenge was to avoid introducing spatial upheaval and to only focus on the essential aspects.
The project had the ambitious intention of enhancing the housing stock of the location and providing a positive contribution to the texture, grain and building types within the conservation area. To do this the designers had to take careful note of the numerous terraced and staggered housing projects in the area constructed over the last 50 years. Alongside all this they also needed to align to the requirements of the local council.
The choice of building material for this small mews house in Highgate was influenced by the original context, and the ongoing development of the mews into a new residential enclave.
Discussion with the Haringey Planning Department led to a selection of a light-coloured brick and mortar for new buildings in the mews, as a contrast to the weathered and dirty commons behind. Marziale was selected for all external and internal structural walls, and precast concrete paving stones in a light tone to match the brickwork.
The quality of the brickwork has been enhanced through the use of a carefully selected mortar, using white cement, lime and washed river sand, and a subtle surface treatment using a method known in Scandinavia as ‘Sækkeskuring’; A similar finish, known as ‘bagging’ was popular in Australia in the 1960s and 70s. This surface finish was appreciated as a way of creating a more monolithic architecture, without losing the identity of each and every brick.
Please note that Wienerberger cannot supply a sample of our Marziale brick with this surface treatment, as this was carried out by the contractors on site.
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