Clock House Gardens
Clock House Gardens has transformed a derelict hotel site into an intimate community of 50 new homes on a key gateway site into Welwyn, Hertfordshire. The design responds to the 0.8ha site’s unique combination of urban and rural surroundings, with the A1(M) motorway to one side and dense woodland to the other.
The design concept is a modern take on a walled village, with buildings formed to minimise noise and pollution from the road and maximise benefits of the site’s geometry and the neighbouring woodland. Five two and three storey buildings combine brickwork with timber cladding and together create a central shared courtyard.
Deep reveals and projected windows create a richness in the elevations and this high-quality aesthetic makes the scheme a unique yet sensitive addition to the built fabric of Welwyn.
Key to its success is the careful layering of building form: the treatment responds to the harsher environment on the edge of the site with robust brickwork, where a softer treatment of timber and glazing is applied elsewhere to respond to the woodland beyond. All homes are dual aspect to make the most of the great surrounding views.
An extensive landscaping strategy introduces planting and greenery back to the formerly hard landscaped site, with the neighbouring lush woodland brought into the scheme through the large central courtyard space. The design also introduces natural surveillance to a previously underused footpath to the north of the site and provides routes from the site to this footway, improving connectivity for residents and local people.
The hard landscaping products used on the project were supplied by Brett Landscaping. With a diverse range of high quality paving products, Brett were an ideal partner for this ambitious development. Requiring water management to cover all eventualities, contractors chose Omega Flow for Clock House Gardens. Omega Flow offers the classic rectangular paving design but with a unique nib designed to allow surface water to drain between the blocks and into the specially designed substrate thereby providing surface water control at site reducing the risk of flooding.
Omega Flow is just one of several permeable paving products from Brett which are supported by PermCalc. This is a unique, free-of-charge online software design package which helps you test permeable design suggestions in terms of providing the ideal solution for your project. In addition to helping save valuable time PermCalc also allows designers to try multiple ‘what if’ design scenarios to help ensure that the final properties are properly protected from the elements.
This is particularly important given our changing climate patterns creating more frequent severe rainfall events. When combined with the ever increasing area of impermeable surfaces resulting from the demand for new housing finding effective surface water management solutions for sustainable developments becomes a key requirement – and one where Brett have considerableexpertise.
Housing stock in Welwyn generally consists of larger homes out of reach of first time buyers and moderate earners. To redress the balance and after consultation with the local community, Clock House Gardens is a totally flatted development of mostly one and two bedroom homes to meet the shortfall in the area and appeal to single and dual occupants and starter families. Prices ranged from £140,000 to £270,000 with the smallest unit at 50sqm and the largest at 87sqm.
Work was undertaken on the development by architects Stockwool and was completed in 2016.
Based in London, Stockwool aims to create places that enrich all our lives. A leading practice for urban regeneration, they design buildings and spaces that are well considered and imaginative. Their work is commercially astute, context-led and priorities townscape quality. Their team of architects and urbanists feel passionately that architecture can and does make a positive difference to the world we live in.
Over the years, Stockwool has built up a portfolio of acclaimed projects across the capital and the South East. As an expert in urban regeneration, much of their work is housing led and their team understands all of the elements that make somewhere a great and sustainable place to live. Every one of their projects is the result of an open, thorough and collaborative design process which draws on the company’s 25 years of experience while embracing modern thinking. They pursue design excellence from the detail of a door handle to the scale of an entire neighbourhood.
As well as being shortlisted for a number of architectural awards, the development has been shortlisted for a 2017 RIBA award.
For 50 years the RIBA awards and prizes have championed and celebrated the best architecture in the UK and around the world, no matter the form, size or budget. Successful projects reflect changes and innovation in architecture, but at their core display a commitment to designing and developing buildings and spaces for the improvement and enhancement of people’s lives.