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Blenheim Grove - London

By chris
Poulsom middlehurst blenheim grove ph frenchtye 01

Occupying a brownfield site between a railway viaduct and industrial workspaces to the north and a residential neighbourhood to the south, Blenheim Grove comprises five new-build terraced houses in Peckham Rye, south London. By employing a split-level arrangement of semi basements, courtyards and roof terraces, architect Poulsom Middlehurst has been able to create dynamic open-plan living spaces while breaking up the external massing. Terraces are also used to ameliorate the irregular tapering plot, giving the impression of uniformity between the residential units despite their varying depths.

We wanted a fresh, clean looking brick to reflect the scheme’s contemporary lines and massing, writes Poulsom Middlehurst. We also favoured a waterstruck brick that would be true to its natural material in appearance with a smooth but lightly textured finish. The chosen brick is manufactured using the traditional ‘soft mud’ process, whereby wet clay is pressed into moulds lubricated with water to prevent sticking. Excess clay is then struck from the top of the moulds, hence the term waterstruck.

The street where the project is located comprises a mix of brick types from Georgian and Victorian houses to modern 90’s flats, with the railway arches forming a backdrop. We were interested in what the street would have looked like when the Georgian houses were first built (this can be seen on some of the house with recently cleaned brickwork) and consequently selected a wheat-coloured brick.

Traditional Wienerberger bricks predominate externally with brick slips employed between the roof terraces of each house on the upper storeys. The latter were cut on site from regular bricks, giving us more options in terms of brick choice. The irregular shape of the site means the rear walls meet at angles. The bricks were cut at these junctions to preserve the simple, clean forms of the houses when seen from passing trains.

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