Jas Bhalla Architects co-authored a strategic urban design study in support of a new settlement between Bedford and Cambdridge. The study examined the relationship between growth in the region, emerging infrastructure proposals and environmental constraints. Our work sought to collate information across local authority boundaries to present a holistic strategic for growth.
A competition entry for a 900 home extension north of Letchworth, illustrating how a modern expansion of the town could serve as a meaningful reinterpretation of Howard’s Garden Cities publication. In order to deliver an extension to Letchworth befitting of Parker and Unwin’s original plan, its necessary to think beyond the immediate boundaries of the allocated site and critically examine how a dense new development on the city’s fringe relates both to Letchworth’s centre and other emerging proposals in close proximity. Through the identification major designations nearby, the project interrogates the strategic relationship between large sites across North Herts and Central Bedfordshire. This level of strategic planning underpins 3 core principles of the site wide masterplan; connected urbanism, productive landscapes and the promotion of inclusive communities.
The masterplan incorporates a “formal boulevard” as its spine route, that could accommodate an electric bus providing connections to Letchworth’s centre as well as other major development sites. Building on existing ecological corridors, the proposals include an east to west linear woodland which forms a continuous green link across the site, integrating existing hedgerows and forming a journey of enclosure
Urban blocks, which could be managed by Community Land Trusts, are flexible enough to allow for adaptation over time. The proposals integrate smaller 1-2 bedroom houses and flats with retirement bungalows, starter homes, larger detached units and self build plots. At the heart of each community block is a shared courtyard grow-space for producing fruit and vegetables and meeting neighbours
Team: The Environmental Dimension Partnership, Lewis Hubbard Engineering
Working on behalf of a Landowner and national housebuilder, Jas Bhalla Architects were appointed to prepare a reserved matters application for 150 homes in Ilchester, South Somerset. The proposal draws inspiration from the agricultural character of nearby villages, using a sensitive yet modern material palette that resonates with the local vernacular. The practice have also been commissioned to develop a wider masterplan that will form an outline application for a further 400 homes.
This project involves the sensitive extension and refurbishment of an early Arts and Craft Edwardian house situated in a North London conservation area. The proposals involve the addition of two new volumes at the side and rear of the property, as well the construction of a zinc dormer in the main roof. The design intention was to separate entertaining spaces from back of house uses, framing a large dining space with an integrated wine store and large window with views out to the garden. The project is expected to be on site in late spring 2019.
Team: Mint Engineers
South London Apartment
In built joinery has been utilised to separate kitchen and living spaces as part of this comprehensive reconfiguration of a Victorian maisonette. A rich dark brown oak floor is contrasted with paired down wall finishes. Large openings on the rear façade create a light filled stairwell.
Upton Court House
This project involves the reconfiguration of three existing spaces to form a new large open plan kitchen and dining area. A large tapered skylight is introduced to ensure the middle of this deep floor plan is adequately lit.
Team: Forstal Consulting Engineers
A new rear extension draws inspiration from the project’s interwar suburban setting. The form of the rear addition has been carefully configured to preserve the setting of a semi mature tree. By stepping the extension back, the scheme creates an “outdoor room” at the rear.
Gilston garden town
Working with Figure Ground Architects, Jas Bhalla Architects are co-designing a masterplan for 1500 homes north of Harlow. The plan will be submitted for outline consent later this year, and forms part of a larger proposal for 10,000 homes. The proposals are based around a new local high street, bookended by a school and community centre.
Team: Figure Ground Architects, Churchill Landscape Architects, Alan Baxter, Savills
Planning consent was granted for the wholesale extension and refurbishment of a 1950’s property in Berkshire. Over the last half century, the property has been extended several times, with little consideration for how additions relate to the flow of existing rooms. The proposal dramatically reconfigures the ground floor plan to create a series of interconnected living spaces. The approved scheme proposes a new double storey rear extension which provides a dramatic setting for an open plan kitchen and dining area. Clad in black larch to contrast against the red brick of the original property, a new single storey wrap-around side extension consolidates other previous additions.
A strategic study in support of a regenerative masterplan for Sheerness, Sheppy. The project involved the analysis of the island’s historic urban form and movement patterns to establish how the town centre could be better connected to residential neighbourhoods.
Team: Tibbalds Planning and Design, The Urban Engineering Studio, BBP Regneration
A terrace for our time
This competition entry interrogates the relationship between public and private spaces in the construction of new terraced streets. The vast majority of historic terraced stock contains a zone that acts as a buffer between the public street and private home. This “defensible” space is crucial to ensuring public areas are well overlooked by “passive surveillance”, promoting social exchange and security. The need for “eyes on the street” is rightly exhibited in numerous contemporary housing projects. What is given far less attention, is how historic terraced streets simultaneously provide this form of social engagement whilst maintaining a degree of privacy for residents and their internal activity.
By raising the ground floor a meter or so above street level, Georgian and Victorian master builders were able to provide an important degree of separation between internal spaces and the outside world. Due to the need for level thresholds, it is impossible to replicate this relationship in contemporary construction. The majority modern “reinterpretations” of the historic terrace lack this nuanced relationship and fall back on lazy pastiche.
Although new homes can’t be lifted above ground, they can be set back from the street. By giving the new house a 4.5 meter deep front garden, windows at ground level are afforded a degree of protection from members of the public walking past. To counterbalance a reduced rear garden, two additional outdoor spaces are incorporated on levels 01 and 02. These “outdoor rooms” are proportioned to be flexible enough to accommodate a range of activities such as barbecues, children’s play, and small-scale urban farming. The terrace at the front of the property is set within the main footprint of the building so residents don’t feel over exposed as is commonly the case with oversailing balconies. neighbouring gardens.
Apertures in the front facade have been similarly carefully calibrated. The staircase - considered one of the most “public” parts of the private home is placed against the front facade to facilitate larger window openings. By contrast, where bedrooms or living areas front the street, window sizes remain modest and would be screened. The front door is orientated to provide an element of both privacy and protection from the elements, providing a space to gather belongings before entering or exiting.
This project is conceived as a series of interconnected volumes that cascade down a step slope in the outskirts of Kidderminster. Each volume is partially buried into the landscape, as internal spaces are lined with cast in concrete walls lit from skylights above.
Conservation area consent granted for a small rear extension to an ground floor Edwardian garden flat in Kingston, South West London.
A conceptual masterplan for an urban extension North of Cardiff.
Camden Park Road
Proposals for the extension and refurbishment of a ground floor flat in a North London Conservation Area.