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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
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.

Baldry Gardens Health Centre in Streatham, South London by Henley Halebrown Rorrison

June 21st, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Henley Halebrown Rorrison

Henley Halebrown Rorrison has completed a new GP surgery and community health centre in Streatham, South London. The building has been delivered under the LIFT Initiative on behalf of Building Better Health.

Exterior View (Image Courtesy Nick Kane)

  • Architects: Henley Halebrown Rorrison
  • Project: Baldry Gardens Health Centre
  • Location: 293 Streatham High Road, London SW16 3NP
  • Gross internal area: 1030 sq m
  • Value: £3 million
  • Developer: Building Better Health
  • Tenant: NHS Lambeth (and Dr James Hill and Dr Roma Cartwright)
  • Funding: Delivered under the Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) initiative

Exterior View (Image Courtesy Nick Kane)

Project credits:

  • Project Architect: Alex Flockhart
  • Structural Engineers: Price & Myers
  • Services Engineer: Cundall
  • Civil Engineer: Price & Myers
  • Project Manager: Davis Langdon
  • Main contractor: Willmott Dixon
  • Cost Consultant: Davis Langdon
  • Transport Consultant: Alan Baxter Associates
  • Planning Consultant: Urban Practitioners
  • Photography: Nick Kane

Exterior View (Image Courtesy Nick Kane)

Baldry Gardens Health Centre is located at the junction of Baldry Gardens, a tree-lined residential street and Streatham High Road, a major south London arterial. It is sited on a plot where the land slopes gently from northeast to southwest and is surrounded predominantly by brick buildings, with the exception of the complex of 4-5 storey flats to the south dating from the 1960s that have recently been renovated and overclad with render.

Window (Image Courtesy Nick Kane)

The new 1,030 sq m 2-storey brick building replaces a single storey centre on the same site. The building form is dictated by the constraints of the site, resulting in an L-shaped plan. This form affords two wings of cellular rooms arranged either side of a central corridor separated by a reception area and waiting room. Given the clinical setting, any conflict that might have arisen between a daylit interior and a concern for dignity is resolved by placing clinical rooms and consulting rooms on the 1st floor. The principal reception/waiting room is also located on the first floor in a light filled double aspect space at the centre of the plan. The ground floor is
reserved for office accommodation, store rooms, plant rooms and a flexible suite for group activities leading on to a walled garden.

Interior View (Image Courtesy Nick Kane)

Whilst the work of Henley Halebrown Rorrison usually places great significance in the plan as an indicator of human relationships and how these may play out in space, here, it is the section that dictates the logic of the scheme. The building’s elevations manifest that logic. The entrance façade on Baldry Gardens is characterised by large structural openings on the first floor, elevated about 3m above the pavement, framing recessed windows that illuminate the consulting rooms and the waiting room at first floor level. Below, store rooms and plant rooms create a blind elevation relieved by three flush glazed frames to an office.

Stair (Image Courtesy Nick Kane)

The scale is designed to evoke a public building where windows are located high in a wall to illuminate a large interior – a hall – or to recollect a classical composition with piano nobile. The 2-storey building rises to 3 storeys where the two wings of the L-shaped plan converge, concealing a third storey plant room and marking the entrance to the health centre. Compositionally this tower is balanced by a stair tower at the Northeast end. The two towers add further weight to the expanse of brickwork and create a vertical counterpoint to an
otherwise horizontal composition.

On the Southwest elevation the ground floor glazing into the communal room is masked by the walled garden. This serves to accentuate the impression of a single storey building resting on a monolithic storey of brickwork.

By comparison the rear elevation facing on to the complex of flats is less composed and the arrangement of windows allows both floors of the building to be read. The building is constructed of brick and block cavity wall with an intermediate structural blockwork spine wall to one side of the central corridor. The chosen facing brick (Ibstock Mill House Blend) is varied in both tone and hue and ranges from crème to pink to brown to reflect the range of brick stocks in the locality. The variegated brickwork is pointed flush with chocolate brown mortar to create a dense monolithic brick form.

Clay airbricks (in four colours) and weepholes achieved by the omission of mortar in the perpends mean that there is no evidence of the often plastic building products associated with contemporary brickwork. Flush precast copings are wet cast limestone and movement joints are marked by dissonance in the brickwork patterns.

Metalwork used in external doors, railings and louvres – salmon pink, crème and two hues of brown – seeks to caricature the brickwork. Windows are bronze anodised aluminium and variously recessed and flush with a green glazing that complements the brick tones.

The entrance is recessed to accentuate the mass of the building. Inside interiors are designed to create a calm and therapeutic environment. A draft lobby opens onto a reception hall that is dominated by the stair to the first floor waiting and reception. The glazed guarding which is obliged to be 1.55m high is framed in heavy timber sections, which make for an unusually scaled – Alice in Wonderland – element. Upstairs the waiting area is double aspect with windows orientated to the northwest and the southeast. A secondary smaller ground floor reception serves the communal clinic and accommodates out-of-hours services.

The clinical rooms are wide but shallow in plan and the size of the windows ensures that spaces may be genuinely daylit and naturally ventilated. Clinical rooms that require mechanical ventilation are located on the Streatham High Road elevation where noise levels
preclude natural ventilation Built-in reception and consulting room furniture is ply and bespoke and provides a handmade foil to the otherwise generic fixtures and fittings employed by the NHS.

This modest £3 million community building plays on its simple massing (the conjunction of two wings), the extent of monolithic polychromatic brickwork and the distribution and apparent scarcity of windows to give it an enduring but benign presence in the city.

Henley Halebrown Rorrison
Henley Halebrown Rorrison was founded in 1995 as Buschow Henley and has established itself as an award-winning architectural studio with expertise in contextual new development and adaptive reuse. The practice was renamed Henley Halebrown Rorrison in June 2010. Recognising that buildings form the foundations of society the partners – Simon Henley, Gavin Hale-Brown and Ken Rorrison – have always strived to make enduring architecture that supports the community it serves and has a human, ethical and cultural dimension. The practice was awarded Healthcare Architect of the Year 2008. Recent award-winning projects include Junction Arts & Civic Centre, Goole (2005-9); St Benedict’s School London (2006-8) and Grover Close Housing, Hemel Hempstead (2005-2008).

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