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44 Willoughby Road

New-build open-plan studio house designed as a floating box with integrated gardens on each level and mesh screens for privacy and sun control. Sustainable features include heat pump, PV panels and water collection. RIBA award shortlist 2012.


Mark Guard Architects



44 Willoughby Road NW3 1RU

Sat 1pm-5pm/Sun 10am-1pm. Regular tours. Max 20 per tour.


Hampstead Heath

268, C11, 46, 168

  • Green features
  • Long queues likely
  • Partial disabled

44 WILLOUGHBY ROAD DesignThe design of the house takes cues from traditional Victorian studio houses in London. The massing is arranged to establish a freestanding floating box with a stepped connection to the adjoining property, which not only separates the house visually but also responds to the adjoining terrace of Victorian houses.The design also explores ideas of privacy. As large areas of glass are part of the studio house aesthetic, front and rear screens were developed to reduce overlooking from neighbouring windows during the day.Unlike surrounding houses this property has very little garden area. What garden is available is divided into one public and one private courtyard at the front, and a private courtyard at the rear. To increase the outdoor space balconies and terraces are provided at first and second floor levels.The interior of the house is largely open-plan. A protected escape route has been achieved through the use of discrete fire resisting pivot doors recessed into the walls and held open with electromagnets. These electromagnets release the doors in the event of a fire.SustainabilityThe house is of steel frame construction, built upon a reinforced concrete ground floor and basement structure. Concrete block infill form the walls and FSC sustainably sourced timber joists form the roof and upper floors.The roof and terraces are clad with insulation and an environmentally friendly single ply waterproof membrane. The thermally broken aluminum framed double-glazed units are filled with krypton gas. The external block walls are clad with insulation and a thin-coat self-cleaning through-coloured silicon render. The ‘U’ or thermal insulation values of each of these construction elements is approximately 40% greater than the values required by Building Regulations.Placing the insulation on the outside of the concrete block provides the interior of the house with a high thermal mass. By absorbing and releasing heat the thermal mass moderates the internal temperature, averaging out day/ night extremes thereby increasing comfort and reducing energy costs.The house has a _wet_ under-floor heating system and the hot water is provided by an unvented hot water cylinder. Both of these are pre-heated by a ground source heat pump which extracts heat from the earth via three 60m deep boreholes beneath the house. The heat extracted from the ground provides 75% of the energy needed to heat the house and hot water. Using an unvented hot water cylinder avoids the requirement for electric pumps for showers and the associated energy use.Apart from providing privacy, the screens at the front and rear of the house reduce solar heat gain during the summer months when the sun is at its highest. Further control of solar heat gain is achieved through the use of vertical Venetian blinds which can be angled to allow daylight but block any direct sunlight. During the winter months when the sun is at a lower angle, sunlight is able to penetrate the screens thereby taking advantage of solar heat gain.Photovoltaic solar panels are installed on the flat roof. Subject to weather conditions the system can provide over two thousand kilowatt hours or units of electricity per year, a savings of one ton of carbon annually.Rainwater is harvested from the main roof and stored in a tank on the second floor terrace and is used to irrigate the planters, garden and bin store green roof. The areas are as follows:ÿSite 150 sq.m (1,615 sq.ft)Gross Internal Floor areas:Basement 71 sq.m (765 sq.ft)Ground Floor 78 sq.m (840 sq.ft)First Floor 68 sq.m (730 sq.ft)Second Floor 42 sq.m (450 sq.ft)Total 259 sq.m (2,020 sq.ft)Guard Tillman Pollock Architects