Copper Lane - photo: Ioana Marinescu

Copper Lane, Stoke Newington

This small cohousing project was developed by a group of six mixed households. Sharing some spaces supports community life and makes the houses more compact than they could have been.

Site and context

An abandoned set of buildings used as a nursery until the early 2000s, the site was surrounded by the backs of terraced houses on all sides.

Development process

The scheme was developed by three of the current residents who lived nearby and spotted the site for sale without planning permission. They formed a non-profit company limited by guarantee with other residents.

The site and common parts are owned by the company. Individual houses are owned on 999-year leases by leaseholders who are also directors of the company. They meet once a month to sort out collective business.

Layout and massing

A set of four three-storey and two two-storey homes is set back from the site boundary and clustered around a raised central courtyard with a communal space beneath with a shared laundry, workshop and hall. Five of the six houses have internal doors to the shared facilities, which save space in each individual house and encourage a neighbourly community.

The buildings on the centre of the site, are ringed by communal gardens, and sunk 1.2 metres into the ground, meaning they do not overshadow neighbouring homes. The orientation of buildings and placement of windows minimise overlooking while allowing plenty of passive solar heat gain.

Construction and sustainability

High-grade timber and brick cladding were used to blend in with the existing tree planting, vegetation and surrounding back gardens. High levels of energy efficiency are achieved with a well-insulated structure, triple glazing, heat recovery ventilation, solar thermal water heating and airtight construction techniques.

As many as possible of the viable trees on the site were kept.

Scheme information

Architects: Henley Halebrown
Planning Authority: Hackney
Site area: 0.25 acres
Scheme: 6 units
Density: 60 u/ha