The western wing accommodates a series of three storey houses with two storey maisonettes above, whereas the southern wing comprises a variety of two and three bedroom dual aspect apartments set above a half basement level of plant space and bicycle storage. Sitting within the rugged industrial context of the old docks, the new brick building needed to be a robust addition to the neighbourhood that could hold its own against the sturdiness of its historic neighbours. Its masonry volume is softened by the refined detailing of its architectural metalwork, ranging from windows and doors to gates and balustrades, which present a finer character to the parts of the building that residents come into contact with.
Galvanizing within the projectGalvanized metalwork is used for all communal balustrading in the project. Most evident is the undulating access deck at second floor on the rear facade, which provides access to the upper level maisonettes in the western wing. The undulations mark the rhythm of party walls between dwellings and swell outwards in front of each front door and kitchen window to provide a generous space for each family to occupy that catches the south-eastern sun. The guarding is formed by alternating circular and flat rods, which fixed radially along each curve, catch the light in different ways to shimmering effect. The access gallery is served at either end by a staircase: to the south the main core that provides access to the apartments in the southern wing; and to the north a second stair that descends through a triple-height void to provide a secondary means of escape.
Where the upper floors of the main core touch the facade, balustrading is again galvanised; flat on three levels and curved at second floor where the core flows out onto the access gallery. The experience of the rear courtyard garden is therefore defined by the juxtaposition between the substantial masonry mass of the building and the delicate tracery-like metalwork that is layered in front of it. The effect is completed by galvanized woven fences that occupy the foreground of the view, bounding the intimate private gardens at ground floor. Being closest to the shared garden, this fencing is deliberately the lightest gauge of all of the metalwork, in order to provide the most subtle play of light, whilst also providing a framework for planting over by residents as they inhabit their gardens over the years to come.
Why galvanizing was usedThere were several strands to the thought process that resulted in galvanizing be specified for the important communal design features in the building.
From an aesthetic point of view, galvanizing contributes to the desired character of the architecture at both the scale of the building and at that of individual details. The manner in which it catches the light and in which light and shadow play vibrantly across its surface bring a delicate filigree nature to the balustrading, providing a subtle ornament to the overall composition. Seen up close the understated variegations in patina provide an attractive depth of expression, which compliments the equally rich surrounding materials of brickwork and cast stone. As these are the parts of the building that will be touched and experienced through the act of living here, the fact that the galvanized finishes will dull or polish dependent on use and wear, will add a further layer of refinement to this appearance as the building ages. Images © David Grandorge & Brendan Woods View more examples of galvanized steel for: