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133 Kilburn Lane by POW



10  /   02   /   2020

We were asked to take a look at a scheme in Kilburn Lane London back in 2018. The scheme had planning permission for 9 residential units and 4 two storey commercial units, this mix had been seen desirable by the planners as the sites former life had been as a recording studio and musical workshop, U2 and Adele had recorded records there, so they wanted to avoid loss of employment in the area. However upon our review it quickly became apparent that commercially the mix was wrong and the net to gross percentage on the commercial units was poor as each required there own escape stair.


So working with the client we redesigned the scheme to remove the first floor office space and replace them with residential units. In total the new scheme provided 16 new homes and 4 new office spaces. All of this on a brownfield site. 


So it all sounds easy but that’s before we mention the site constraints. To the north are 5 railway lines serving mainline and local routes, to the west is a residential Mews with gardens facing our site, to the east is a residential terrace with gardens facing our site, to the front is a major spine road with heavy traffic and finally the site sloped two and a half metres back to front.


Luckily we like working in section and eking out clever design solutions to solve problems in a simple way, so working with rights of light surveyors we devised an I shaped plan that allowed us to get light into the new homes whilst maintaining light and space for the existing neighbours and also narrowly missing a beautiful mature tree.


Our re-design also eliminated a basement that was needed to support the commercial units bike store and plant room. We could not eliminate waterproofing works entirely so we worked with in partnership with  Newton Waterproofing to develop a series of robust tanking details to stop any water ingress into the commercial units.


A requirement of the local plan was for all commercial office space to achieve Breeam Very Good and in addition to this the client wanted the spaces to be naturally ventilated if possible, this is tricky when the site is bounded on all four sides so we designed high level windows and rooflights to allow air to flow through the units, coupled with the thermal mass of concrete frame and deep plan to limit solar gain the offices could limit any need for artificial cooling.


Following a successful planning application the detailed design and tender process were completed and we were lucky enough to be novated to the main contractor to help deliver the scheme. We also were retained client side in a quality role.


We were asked by the main contractor to simplify the heating design and make to scheme more robust in its approach to ESW1 as part of their contractors proposals for the design and build contract. So we eliminated any flammable materials in the original build ups, in this instance a ply backing had been specified for the penthouse level Zinc façade and through research and clever detailing we eliminated in favour of a trapezoidal metal sheet. Also any rigid insulation was omitted in favour of rockwool.


The project was constructed during the Covid pandemic and as a result of this the supply chains of most contractors were affected and often merchants were limiting supply of particular materials (for simple metal studwork the contractor needed to procure via three different suppliers) so the contractor needed to work with different suppliers to those specified, so a lot of our time was spent helping the contractor ensure these alternatives were equal to those in the contract and checking the technical aspects of the materials.


So we enabled the contractor to use clever alternative design solutions to suit procurement issues raised by covid , without any inherent loss in quality to the end client. This needed to be coupled with robust documentary back up to satisfy building regulations and approval.


The building was completed in 2022 and was shortlisted for the inaugural Brent Design Awards

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