Underwood Road

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Location: 22-28 Underwood Road, London

Client: Peabody

Project Year: 2015

Cost: Over £2m

Thirty three new homes have been created at 22-28 Underwood Road in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The site is very close to Whitechapel Road and a short walk from Brick Lane and Spitalfields.

The form of the building emerged through a careful urban analysis of the very mixed local area which comprises four to five storey buildings alongside two storey suburban houses and tower blocks. The building that formerly stood on the site belonged to the first category and had a footprint that filled virtually the entire area. This was an accumulation of smaller buildings some of which had historically been used as a Jewish Maternity Hospital though had since been used by various groups including the local council. The new buildings are arranged in two parts: a four to five storey building facing Underwood Road and a row of three courtyard houses to the rear.
The four to five storey block creates a new frontage along Underwood Road the scale of which is handled using a variety of separate volumes made with different brick types, brick details and window arrangements. This is punctuated with concrete panels inset with lettering identifying the building address together with panels and banded lettering describing the history of the site as a Jewish Maternity Hospital. The banded lettering is built into a wall which creates zone of defensible space used for entrances and light courts.

The ground floor of the building has four maisonettes that can be entered independently rather than through the communal lobby spaces serving the flats above. The maisonettes are all double sided, typically with kitchen/dining spaces overlooking the street and living spaces opening onto a terrace at the rear. The lower floor of the maisonettes have bedrooms served by light courts.

Upper floors of the building contain flats arranged around two communal lobbies all of which are naturally lit and accessed by a lift and staircase which has windows framing views along the street. The majority of flats are dual aspect with any single aspect flats being south facing one bed flats only. All flats have balconies to the south facing rear facade which are lined with vertical timbers, softening the brick facades to create a more inhabited, informal character and balance privacy with openness. The higher balconies and a communal roof terrace enjoy fantastic views towards the City of London skyline.

A row of three L-shaped courtyard houses have been carefully tucked into the rear of the plot creating a linear walled garden space including a play area. The houses are lower in the ground than the front block and consist of two storey elements running north-south with single storey elements running east-west. The single storey elements allows light to the flats and space beyond. Windows and doors have been aligned to maximise light penetration and avoid views to both the front block and neighbours to the immediate south.

The form of the buildings balance larger areas of glazing to the south, shaded by the balconies) with smaller areas to the north. The walls and insulated to 0.15 W/m2K with an air tightness of around 0.35 m3/(m2·h). The building achieves level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes and is served by a communal gas powered boiler in the basement and roof mounted photovoltaic panels. The houses have their own separate boilers and photovoltaic arrays.

Overall the development provides: 2x 4B7P maisonettes, 7x 3B5P (3x houses, 2x maisonettes, 1x flat and 1x wheelchair adapted flat), 10x 2B4P flats, 4x 2B3P flats and 10x 1B2P flats.

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South facing facade

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Terraces to walled garden

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Balcony with views over the City of London

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