Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Residential building in Staines, UK by Architects of Invention
February 11th, 2015 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Architects of Invention
The building is seven stories high with descending terraces at the front, which offer views towards the river from the internally situated apartments. While the building is foremost designated as residential, part of the ground floor is occupied with space for retail. The building’s round shape creates public spaces on the ground floor – opening to the north–east between the Strata House and the new development and also from the south-east corner on the embankment by the bridge.
Both entrances to the building for pedestrians and vehicles are on the north-west side. The car park for 126 vehicles is situated on two levels with access via two separate ramps for each level. The first level is half-sunken to decrease the height of the carp park and as a precaution against flooding.
There is a private terrace for the residents on top of the car park. It combines a balanced combination of greenery and architectural features – most prominently, a water feature. There is a wide staircase from this terrace leading down to the embankment (reverse access is protected) offering an integral public recreational seating area. The first floor flats have individual fenced gardens.
The façade is based on a regular unified module which forms balconies above the units below. Each unit corresponds to the internal organisation of flats whether they are one-, two- or three-bedroom flats.
The resulting building is very well situated in the surroundings opening wide views towards the river and the city. It offers a dynamic presence, offering a volume and facade which are constantly changing. The building forms two different qualities of public space – the recreational and the urban. The building shape is an ideal circle and therefore lends itself to a uniformity, using segments – which is very simple and yet offers the complexity needed for that specific urban situation. The access and views are placed in order to maximize interactivity with the surrounding city.
The building is designed using CLT and Glue-lam beams, which is low maintenance and long lasting, and will have a low environmental impact, due to the minimal use of natural resources and the passive means of comfort conditioning. Accessibility of the building allows daylight and ventilation to permeate through the building, which was designed specifically for low environmental impact.
Internally, comfort conditions are passively controlled using natural cross ventilation, exposed thermal mass, and a building envelope made out of glass. The building also incorporates recycled materials including a wooden block courtyard floor utilising timber from reclaimed city power poles; concrete and pavers that utilise a high percentage of recycled material and fly ash for cement and aggregate replacement; LED lighting is used extensively in the building.
The new residential development is positioned in Staines-upon-Thames at the edge of the river Thames on top ofan existing two level car park adjacent to the historic Staines Bridge. The south-west elevation faces the embankment, the south-east is positioned on Bridge Street and the building faces Clarence Streetto the East. There are adjacent buildings to the site – Strata House to the North, Edge Court residential building to the East, The Staines Bridge to the East and Swan Hotel to the West.
The structure represents the idea of a circular forumencapsulating the spirit of community and integration. It speaks to the surroundings by positively embodying the concept of connection: between city, river and the historic Staines Bridge.The emphasis on integration in this design means city and residential units are given to each other. Likewise, the building itself opens 360 degrees to the city – allowing for most of the flats to have a view of the river.
Best practice in upgrading townscapes must include developing and restoring the centre to attract visitors and create a community and leisure hub. With this in mind, we have opened the building to allow easy ingress and egress and to attract the local population to enjoy the building and the views it offers.The building is designed to interact positively with its setting and should form a focal point for new community activity.
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