Orsman Whitmore Building

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Location: 56a Orsman Road & 46-48 Whitmore Road, London, N1 5QJ & N1 5QG

Client: Orsman Whitmore Limited

Project Year: Completed December 2012

Cost: Over £2m

Orsman Whitmore Building

The building is located by the Regents Canal in Hackney, at the corner of Whitmore Road and Orsman Road. The neighbourhood is a rich mix of warehouse’s, light industrial, artist studios and residential.

We developed this brownfield corner site to house on ground and first floors artist studios and design practices with three floors of apartments above.

The initial point of reference was the neighbouring brick warehouse buildings, solid straightforward structures with repetitive elevations and high floor to ceiling heights with generous window openings.

Our building was conceived as a solid mass of brick with openings and cantilevers carved out. The massing responds to the neighbouring buildings. Along Orsman Road, the building aligns with the British Museum cornice, stepping up to five stories to mark the corner. The ground floor corner is formed by a two storey cut back with a brick soffit. Along Whitmore Road, the building is massed in three blocks, five to four to two storeys (following original 1800’s plot lines). An enclosed courtyard is formed at the junction with the neighbouring building.

The use of brick has informed the design from the beginning. The façade – a straightforward grid of piers and spandrels– allows for variability, such as eroding (terraces); infilling (windows or brick panels); leaving open (recessed balconies), and cutting away (corner cantilever). The external facades feature handmade grey Nevado brick, metal handrails and bespoke aluminum full - height windows with recessed aluminum ventilation panels. Deep pier reveals and brick soffits express the solidity and permanence of the material.

The brick used, both internally and externally, is BEA Clay solutions, Nevado Grey, clay facing brick. Nevado Grey is produced from a high quality buff burning clay, enhanced by coal and minerals, which are added to the brick face by vitrification in a high kiln temperature creating a coal flecked effect. The effect is deepened when the bricks are re-fired changing the colour to various subtle shades of grey mixed with white and the characteristic coal flecking. The Nevado Grey is a specially made batch for each project. Its appearance is consistently varied throughout without the need to mix various shades of bricks.

The structure is in-situ concrete, employing the Cobiax system to make lightweight slabs with greater spans and less embodied C02. There are no internal columns, with the slabs spanning from the perimeter to the core, allowing for greater flexibility in the layout of the studios and apartments. The in-situ concrete soffit is exposed throughout.

The building is energy efficient, achieving 25% above Part L (2006). It has a central boiler for all heating along with solar thermal and PV panels. The building also achieves BREEAM – Very Good and Code for sustainable homes, Level 3.

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External View - Whitmore

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Studio Space

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