Free Architecture Foundation Members' Tour of Jaccaud Zein Architects' Shepherdess Walk housing

In collaboration with developer Solidspace, the Geneva-based architect has realised an innovative residential scheme in East London


12:00pm, Saturday, 9 January 2016


01:00pm, Saturday, 9 January 2016

Price: Free for AF members


96 Shepherdess Walk, London N1 7JN

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Shepherdess Walk is a new residential project in central London, developed by the Swiss architects Jaccaud Zein in partnership with Solidspace. 

Situated at the corner of Shepherdess Walk and Wenlock Street, the project mediates between the different historical conditions and formal qualities of the site to propose an unapologetically contemporary project for a terrace of houses and an apartment building. 

Shepherdess Walk has a rich historical heritage of terraced housing and fragments of the continuous Georgian frontages are still visible despite the heavy bomb damage suffered during the Second World War. The project draws on this historical fabric and reinstates three terraced houses on Shepherdess Walk in a contemporary reinterpretation of the type. Gentle variations of the façades enable a subtle closure of the street towards the adjacent park, giving both orientation to the open space from within the building and clarification of the boundaries of the streetscape. This slight folding also echoes the geometry of the adjacent Georgian terrace, reinforcing the historical identity and character of the street. 

The apartment building rises in scale beyond the houses to stitch the development into the context of bigger scale post-war housing blocks which extend beyond. A slight folding of the façade alignment signifies an ending to Wenlock Street and allows for a clear articulation between the different scales. Towards the rear, the apartment building steps to allow for light and air in the courtyard and to ensure diagonal views from within. A cornice caps the building with a strong horizontal emphasis that is carried upwards on two setback volumes. 

In collaboration with Solidspace, a split-level section was developed which was applied to both houses and apartments. This configuration allows for the juxtaposition of rooms with different usages around double-height connected spaces, offering a sense of spatial generosity and continuity. The complexity of the section is not immediately apparent from the exterior with only hints given by the large-scale windows to the presence of the double height spaces. 

The split-level arrangement introduced a strong potential for flexibility for the apartments, allowing for possible subdivisions within each unit with multiple access to the stairwell. This flexibility allows for a possible fragmentation of scale and an evolution of use through time to meet the demands of multiple occupancy, of children growing up, of partial rental of the unit, of working from home or just varying use of the different rooms.

All internal spaces have been developed using a palette of raw materials, plaster, timber, concrete brass and steel which are designed to patinate with use, giving each space a specific and unique character which will develop through time. Handrails and ironmongery have been designed to offer a sensual tactile quality, using hand crafted traditional materials such as solid walnut and brass. 

The tour, which will be led by Jean-Paul Jaccaud of Jaccaud Zein Architects, is free but places are restricted to Architecture Foundation members.   For deatils of AF membership rates click here