Architect: DSDHA

Hales Street
London SE8

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Located on a quiet side street just off Deptford High Street, this award-winning two-bedroom courtyard house has been described by RIBA judges as “an exemplary response to its urban setting”.

Constructed between 2003 and 2005, the house constitutes one half of a building designed by DSDHA in collaboration with their client, art historian Geoffrey Fisher (the other half of the building is a separate commercial unit, not offered for sale). It has recently been subtly modified by Woolcott Associates, again in collaboration with the original client.

Accommodation is flexible, but is currently arranged as a bedroom that runs the full width of the property on the first floor and, on the ground floor, a living room / kitchen, bathroom and second bedroom / study. The rooms are arranged around a central courtyard. There is under-floor heating.

The careful choice of materials throughout is essential to the appeal of this engaging house. It is entirely Modern in its ample use of glazing and open-plan spaces, yet is also rooted in the history of the city thanks to the use of reclaimed bricks, floor tiles and granite setts (many salvaged by Fisher from the banks of the Thames). The mass, proportions and tones of the building in Fisher’s words “embody various references to 19th-century London functionalism – buildings such as workshops, small warehouses and mews stabling”.

The design of the house around a courtyard, and the use of external metal grilles, allows for uncompromised privacy as well as excellent natural light throughout. Every aspect of the design has been thoroughly considered, a point picked up on by the RIBA judges when they gave it an award in 2006: “It is carefully built, the detailing is uncompromising, and the choice of materials is restrained. It is an exemplary response to its urban setting.”

The house is very well connected, being a short walk from Deptford station (which runs trains to London Bridge in approximately 6 minutes), Deptford Bridge DLR station and New Cross Overground station. Greenwich is also within comfortable walking distance.

Deptford is a thriving area of London that has a growing cultural profile. It has a range of outstanding local galleries, restaurants and pubs, as well as being convenient for surrounding areas such as New Cross, Greenwich and Bermondsey.

Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.


History

The owner has hosted regular Open House weekends. Below are some extracts from the texts that he has prepared for visitors:

“Space, daylight and outlook were leading design determinants. Additionally, I have wanted the building to express continuity with the past, to relate well to its surroundings, and to enhance the local scene.

The aesthetic is modernist, but use is made of not only new but also old materials, particularly reclaimed bricks which help the building to relate to its surroundings. A proportion of the bricks, together with the setts (mostly from the Thames foreshore) are found objects which encapsulate much London history.

The principal design constraint is the adjacent four-storey housing block. In response, the building has been kept low to the south and light-pulling courtyards have been created in the middle of the east and west sides. Direct sunlight enters the large east-facing bedroom window in early morning and the west courtyard from lunchtime onwards. Oblique evening sunlight touches the north façade in summer.

As well as vistas within and from the building, of special concern to me is its impact in terms of tones, planes, masses and the defining of spaces. The old character of Hales Street (once a Georgian street) and streets parallel to it was to a great extent destroyed by post-war redevelopment. A desire to recover street character has guided the treatment of the Hales Street elevation. Industrial connotations (galvanised steel, blue engineering bricks mixed in, and the exclusion of timber and paint as facing materials) reflect personal taste but also refer to uses historically located close to the High Street.

Post-war redevelopment paid no attention to the long established character of the area. To the modest degree possible, this building seeks to make amends, and to pull together the townscape with its mass, proportions and tones. It embodies various references to 19th-century London functionalism – buildings such as workshops, small warehouses and mews stabling.”

An extensive article on the building, written by Chris Foges, was published in Architecture Today in 2005. Below are some extracts from the piece:

“It was always the aim of the project to create a building of indeterminate identity, neither identifiably domestic nor commercial, a piece of contemporary architecture whose references are Cambridge brutalism and London vernacular.

The facing bricks and floor tiles were sourced from salvage yards; the setts in the courtyards were scavenged from the Thames foreshore over many years; the marble splash-backs behind the bath were found in a Fulham street and ported home in a taxi… The interest in salvaged materials is not simply economic: it is also about a kind of contextualism.

The result is an enigmatic building, that is both of its time and place, and somehow adrift from them.”


DSDHA

DSDHA’s architecture is always evolving, and each project is a bespoke response to a unique brief through dialogue with their clients. Their approach is always focused, sustainable and elegant; they aim to create delight wherever they can.

Trust, respect and integrity shape the relationships the practice develops with their clients, stakeholders and collaborators. They carefully balance the risks and opportunities of a project through their expertise, commitment and patience. DSDHA’s approach enables each project to achieve its fullest potential, whether the outcome is a single building or a master plan.


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