New-Build Courtyard Houses by FORMstudio in London Borough of Southwark, United Kingdom

Construction of FORMstudio’s two new-build courtyard houses is now complete. This project is a response to the Mayor of London’s Policy to optimise the re-use of small sites across London.

Malcolm Crayton, Director at FORMstudio comments: “The GLA’s draft New London Plan calls for an increased focus on small sites, which need to play a much greater role in housing delivery. Boroughs are encouraged to pro-actively support well-designed new homes on small sites through both planning decisions and plan-making in order to significantly increase the way in which challenging small sites can meet London’s housing needs – Benbow Yard is a perfect response to this policy.”

The tight, irregular brownfield plot, previously occupied by a metal workshop, is constrained by narrow access, outlook and daylight issues, and these have to an extent determined the form and fenestration of the pair of new-build, 2-storey, 3-bedroom family houses.

The principle barrel-vaulted design is semi-submerged below the existing ground level to minimise the bulk of the new structure. On the East side, where the boundary is closest to the existing terrace of houses, the first floor is set back to allow for an extensive sedum roof, providing space and outlook between the two. New windows are orientated to the south to take advantage of unrestricted views, maximise natural light and avoid overlooking, with living spaces at the lowered level opening onto private courtyards.

The ground floor is in pale buff brick with the upper barrel-vaulted storey finished in zinc standing-seam cladding; materials which reference the industrial heritage of the site but articulated with a refined level of detailing to create a sense of substance and quality.

Photography: Bruce Hemming