Highbury Gardens

The combination of Highbury Gardens’ traditional brick, render and stone materials and classic design incorporating tall windows, stylish canopies and balconies, blends seamlessly with the Georgian townhouses in its North London location. Alongside Porphyrios and JRA, we delivered this mixed-use scheme of 119 high-quality residential units as well as street level cafés, bars and restaurants.

The interplay between independent boutiques and stores nearby, as well as the more traditional residential aesthetic of Highbury Fields, informed the design process, as we sought to deliver a structure that would not look out of place from either perspective.

To maximise the landscaped central space, we devised two structurally independent yet connected buildings: the first rectangular in plan and eight storeys tall, the second five and six storeys tall and cranked. Together, these formed a soft V-shape around the central courtyard. We opted for concrete frame to simplify the stability system and reduce vibration transfer, as well as ensuring thermal mass. The weight of the structure, and the ability to add edge stiffening, provided a sound structural support for the proposed cladding system, which comprised solid masonry.

We designed the roof as a portalised steel frame, which was lightweight and able to achieve the long spans required for the impressive penthouse apartments. Timber beams and studs were considered, which provided a similar lightweight, slimline solution, but could not achieve the requisite spans. For the balconies found on the Holloway Road and courtyard elevations, steel was again used, with cast-in connections incorporating thermal breaks.

Above ground demolition of existing buildings removed obstructions, though we had to take into account the stability of retained structures along the site boundary. Below ground, having considered pad and raft foundations, we opted for piles, reducing the extent of excavation work required, and therefore wastage. A number of historical basements ran along the northern site boundary, so the piles were adapted locally to include sleeves.

Mixed-use, predominantly residential scheme, sympathetic to the mixture of modern and classical influences in local architecture

London, UK
First Base
Porphyrios Architects, John Robertson Architects
£ 21 million
  • 2012 London Planning Awards – Best New Place to Live
  • 2012 New Homes Awards – Best Development, Affordable Sector
  • 2012 British Homes Award – Commendation
  • 2012 UK Housebuilders Awards – Best Design