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De Havilland 41

Refurbishment of a loft in the former box factory De Havilland in Clapton, London. The approach was to build the minimum necessary, minimise waste and making use of the existing resources and reclaimed materials as much as possible.

This is about the avoidable. This is about resources. This is about the brief. This a project that relies in a fore-thinking approach to retrofit that looks beyond the material palette to concentrate in assessing the available resources as a starting point in the design process. The project comprises the refurbishment of a 98 sqm loft in the De Havilland Studios former factory building designed by Sir Owen Williams in the 1930s and converted into residential units in the 1990s by Hollybrook. Driven by the client’s limited budget and desire to improve the spatial distribution, the design aimed to improve the liveability of the unit by providing opportunities for natural light throughout the deep floor plan. and re-using the glass blocks to create an adaptable and flexible space with an open plan feel. Fundamentally, the aim throughout the design process was to build little from scratch, minimise waste and re-use as much as possible. This was achieved by proposing an efficient design that relied on minimal number of new components and careful deconstruction of the unit. The existing glass blocks infills were carefully removed, cleaned and reconfigured to form the new partitions separating the living areas from the bedrooms. The reclaimed junckers solid beech flooring was sourced from gymnasiums and the kitchen is an adapted ex-display unit from the manufacturer’s showroom. The decision to retain the blocks and other resources such as the existing galvanised conduits or the timber battens under the floor, was only possible due to the team and client understanding the broader benefits of this approach. This is a futureproof intervention where robust materials with long-life span were prioritise and cost-effective sustainable options brought up to the forefront: Lignacite ash concrete blocks with 35% recycled aggregates were used for the partitions; reclaimed Junckers beech gymnasium solid hardwood flooring; and ex-display kitchen adapted. Tropisms / Hyper-local Architecture / Circular Economy
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