Back to the Brick Bulletin

Penrose Mews, London

By chris

Penrose Mews, the third Sociable Housing scheme completed by Stolon Studio, is the most urban yet. It comprises eight, three-storey mews houses characterised by the mottled brick commons, half matt and half glazed to reflect light into the shared courtyard.

The ingenuity of this proposal is the delivery of a 10,500 sqft development on a 7,800 sqft site without feeling cramped. The key innovation was to create a basement under the shared courtyard, hiding almost 50% of the development; and to relocate an existing sub-station on site within the new basement. As a result, the new building is smaller than the old one it replaced, maintains daylight to surrounding properties and ensures that the courtyard receives sunlight throughout the year.

The courtyard provides a sociable space for residents to gather and interact. The surrounding brickwork is partly glazed, more so towards the top, to reflect light into the space and homes. The bespoke clear glaze, which undulates over the surface of the brick, creates a rippling reflection that shimmers as one moves around the courtyard. The boundaries between units are blurred by the seemingly random window arrangement to enhance the sense of togetherness. A band of low level rooflights brings natural light into the kitchens below and simultaneously provides a buffer between the courtyard and the houses. Porches and coloured doors articulate the entrance to each unit. Small bamboos and sweet potato vines bring colour, life and delicacy to the space.

one of the most elegant features of Penrose mews is the subtle combination of glazed and unglazed bricks. Stolon were very keen to use a common type brick throughout but that it would be glazed on different surfaces and with specials made for the various angles. Therefore, the choice of brick that could be cut and glued to form the specials as well as take to being glazed was critical.

Stolon Studio worked with EBM to source the brick suppliers and traditional glazing manufacturer. Many bricks were considered before the Northcot Newport Light Blend (NLB) was chosen for their modern wire-cut finish and with the variegation that complemented the natural variety in commons. Another parallel exercise in finding a glazed brick was undertaken, working with HG Matthews who could apply bespoke glazes to our choice of brick. A lot of samples were explored before settling on a glazed red sandy brick that was an excellent complement to the Northcot brick but provided a delightful rippled finish when glazed. It was also important that it matched the NLB, in size so that it could easily be cut and bonded together. We had not appreciated the significance that the subtle difference in brick sizes made until we had to bond two together.

On the first floor, roof terraces accessed from the master bedroom provide additional private amenity space and enhance the feeling of openness. Delicate hit and miss brickwork walls sit to one side of the roof terraces, screening views into neighbouring properties and providing an intricate play of shadow.

More bulletins

Subscribe to the Brick Bulletin

Keep up to date with the latest in clay brick architecture