Whatcott's Yard - photo: Kilian O'Sullivan

Whatcott’s Yard, Stoke Newington

Three friends worked together to squeeze a small terrace onto a constrained backland site, using design to maintain privacy and daylight to surrounding houses.

Site and context

This narrow backland site was formerly a disused goods yard surrounded by two- and three-storey terraced housing. A single point of entry is on the west side, beneath a flying freehold.

Development process

The scheme was developed by three friends who found the site after months of searching. Their strategy was to agree the size, siting and construction principles of the terrace, and to develop ideas for the interior of each house separately.

They managed to find a mortgage lender and eventually obtained planning permission. They were still appealing planning constraints when they completed the purchase of the site.

Layout and massing

The three houses have the same floor area. The internal layout varies with one subdivided to form two flats. This reflects the needs of the developers at the time.

The houses are entered on the north side from a narrow lane. On the south they open onto small, private gardens. A small, shared yard is in the ‘neck’ of the site.

Design measures manage the potential loss of privacy. The south elevation is tilted to reduce the frontal relationship with houses opposite and increase separation distances.

It is highly glazed, but sheer curtains above ground floor screen the interiors. This was an acceptable alternative to obscure glazing. The ground floor rooms are screened by the garden wall.

The building is carefully shaped to minimise loss of daylight and sunlight to neighbouring houses.

Construction and sustainability

Materials such as polycarbonate cladding were combined with materials from renewable sources. The timber frame structure was built from Masonite & Parallam and insulated with recycled newspaper and sheep’s wool.

The roof is covered with sedum plants. Existing materials such as granite sets and brick walls were re-used.

Scheme information

Architects: Ullmayer, Riches, Garibaldo
Planning Authority: Hackney
Site area: 0.09 acres
Scheme: 4 units
Density: 110 u/ha