The richly detailed brickwork on this ‘Arts and Crafts’ inspired home finishes the exterior with a glorious contemporary twist, making Northcot’s handmade bricks integral to the build.
The Orchard is a new two-storey family house in the London Borough of Lambeth, which was built to fit into a narrow infill plot on the site of a disused garage.
Situated along a terrace of five architecturally distinct houses, it followed the building line of an original Edwardian terrace, referencing the surrounding Victorian and Edwardian brick villas, whilst reflecting the scale and highly eclectic architecture of the modern adjoining properties.
The big vision was to push the boundaries of urban design by building a contemporary interpretation of the Arts & Crafts movement, which combined 21st century energy and environmental performance with a commitment to traditional craftsmanship and urban horticulture.
Inspired by the English vernacular, particularly ‘Deanery Garden in Sonning, Berkshire’ by Edwin Lutyens, the Orchard was almost entirely hand built by the owner Will Anderson, who wanted to create a home “where the building crafts shine: richly detailed and alive with the beauty of natural materials”.
This was a handcrafted approach, which took a delight in the choice of materials. Will learned numerous trades to undertake the joinery, plastering, stained glass, ceramics and some of the brickwork himself. Reclaimed materials included rare woods for the parquet flooring with each room using a different wood and pattern.
Co-designed by architects Constructive Individuals using the principles and software of the Passivhaus movement, and built from sustainable materials, the timber-framed structure boasts high levels of insulation and airtightness, with an annual space heating demand of only 1570 kWh. A comfortable energy efficient indoor environment was achieved with triple-glazed timber windows and doors, solar panels and a natural ventilation system.
Two rooms (the ground floor porch/larder and first floor oak-framed conservatory) were kept outside the heated building envelope, creating an opportunity to use traditional building methods and pursue the arts and crafts aesthetic with single glazed leaded windows and intricate brick bonds, whilst not adversely affecting the thermal performance of the living space contained within the main building fabric.
An integral part of the vision was the brick detailing on the front elevation, which formed a visual link with the neighbouring Victorian properties and the contemporary street scene. Traditionally made by hand, Northcot’s Silver Grey bricks and matching specials had an irregular artisan appearance and texture. Their finely variegated orange, red and silver tones complemented the blue-white of the lime mortar and the glazed cool blue-green handmade Portuguese porcelain tiles around the windows.
The brickwork was mostly in stretcher bond, except for areas outside the insulated building envelope, which were built from solid brick without a cavity. These extended upwards from the porch to the base of the first-floor conservatory in a Flemish Garden Wall bond, which featured much darker brick headers in a simple, attractive pattern.
“The Orchard was inspired by the desire to create an authentic Arts and Crafts home, alive with the beauty of traditional and richly detailed materials. The chromatic subtleties of Northcot’s silver grey handmade bricks, with their delicate combination of orange-red tones dusted with fine grey sand, were integral to the uniqueness and sheer visual pleasure of this labour of love.”Owner Will Anderson