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Common Ground Architecture’s Pump House featured in the AJ

Common Ground Architecture’s Pump House featured in the AJ

Common Ground Architecture, Brick By Brick’s architecture arm, has completed its first residential scheme.  Pump House in South Norwood was designed for as part of our smaller sites programme, and was recently featured in the Architects’ Journal.

Common Ground Architecture (CGA) works with us on our pipeline of schemes across Croydon, as well as having a number of schemes in design development with private developers. CGA are seeking commissions both inside and outside of the borough and with other local authorities.

Under Brick By Brick’s innovative business model, all profits – including those from our architecture arm – are returned to the council to be reinvested in the borough. This also supports the delivery of new affordable housing across Croydon.

Pump House comprises 14 one and two bedroom apartments above a new local library. The site, a former car park that had been vacant for nearly 30 years, is located within the South Norwood Conservation Area. An Art Deco cinema formerly stood on the adjacent site and the architectural ambition was to restore this missing elegance into the Station Road street scene.

This scheme has been conceived as two interlocking forms, which are set apart in their materiality and unified by their window proportions and detailing.

The handsome white brick building is the primary component: composed as a symmetrical façade, it sits a storey higher than the predominant street height, achieving an additional storey of accommodation and providing a visual anchor in the street scene. The interlocking façade detail references the fenestration motif of the former cinema. The curved red brick building is more modest and stretches around the corner of the site, stitching the scheme into its Victorian high street context.

The scheme has been carefully designed to create generous new homes whilst protecting the residential amenity of each of the neighbouring properties and maximising space for the library on the ground floor. The orientation of the site leant itself to north facing single aspect apartments with views onto the high street, but the internal layout has been carefully configured to avoid this, and all homes have dual or triple aspect. Apartments also have generous ceiling heights exceeding London Plan standards, allowing them to be filled with light.

Balconies have been arranged to overlook the surrounding streets. They are inset within the form of the building, and have a brick upstand to create a greater sense of privacy for each of the apartments from the street. The interlocking form of the two buildings also means that some apartments have access to generous roof terraces.

The interiors, also designed by Common Ground Architecture, echo the Victorian surroundings and have a distinct character without being overbearing, allowing future residents to make their own mark. High quality, natural materials have been prioritised for areas that you touch, such as the Silestone worktops and oak handles.

The entrance lobby has a bold herringbone charcoal and white tiled floor, referencing Victorian tiled hallways. This motif continues into the living spaces with engineered oak parquet, and into the bathrooms with a concrete toned porcelain tile. The idea is that the pattern gets ‘quieter’ as you enter the more private areas of the home. The angular nature of the herringbone has also been softened in the bathroom through a bespoke capsule shaped vanity unit; this shape is also evident in the handles in the kitchen.

The apartments are designed to promote sustainability and energy efficiency, with brown roofs, photovoltaic panels and double-glazed windows, as well as significant space for cycle parking.

Chloë Phelps, Deputy CEO and Head of Design for Common Ground Architecture, said:

“This is our first residential scheme completed as a practice and we are delighted with it. Pump House exemplifies our commitment to creating inclusive, characterful, and joyful architecture and sets a benchmark for all schemes currently in development, with design quality and sustainability as our absolute priorities” 

Colm Lacey, CEO of Brick By Brick, said:

“This scheme embodies everything that Brick by Brick is committed to delivering: beautifully designed homes and new local community facilities creating places where people truly want to live.  Common Ground Architecture have done a wonderful job bringing this vision to life and I look forward to seeing more of their projects complete in the coming months”

Pump House follows the completion of our first schemes on multiple sites throughout the borough within our first small sites programme.

As part of our second small sites programme, we have also committed to a new set of One Planet Living principles to ensure that both their developments and business operations are doing all they can to meet the challenge of the climate emergency.

The One Planet Living principles cover ten commitments, including everything from using sustainable materials in construction, zero waste to landfill, achieving net zero carbon emissions from heating and energy use, and encouraging sustainable forms of transport as well as designing homes to foster health, wellbeing and quality of life.

We will publish an action plan that will set out how they will deliver on the ten One Planet Living principles, and will undergo an annual audit of our programme to ensure they are delivering on the commitments.

Common Ground Architecture comprises a team of nine architects specialising in the design and construction of residential schemes.