Two triangular sloping houses make the most of a complex infill site, using geometry, landscape and communal spaces to create a new type of housing.
It helps if such a project is not only assured and distinctive, as this one is, but also hints at wider application. Here the architects present their work as a model for wringing the most out of every scrap of land in a city hungry for housing, and making a “new way of designing a house” out of the constraints”
Rowan Moore, The Observer 8 June 2014
Squeezed onto the leftover space behind a row of houses in Tufnell Park, Ott’s Yard combines complex architectural processes with bold, simple ideas.
The building’s exteriors are carefully designed to minimise their impact on the surrounding area, with windows facing onto a central courtyard to protect overlooking, and bricks carefully selected to fit into the local colour palette.
The houses pivot around the courtyard in a pin-wheel fractal pattern, placing it at the heart of the scheme and retaining a sense of enclosed privacy despite the many houses that surround it.
Each Ott’s Yard house is topped with a planted roof, designed with landscape specialist Arabella Lennox-Boyd, acting as artworks only ever seen by the neighbours.
The triangular form of the buildings “ comprised of 23 party walls “ becomes as motif that is repeated inside and out at a variety of scales, including skylights, flooring, worktops and even tiling.
Open-plan layouts create views across multiple spaces, decorated by the delicate interplay of daylight patterns that change from hour to hour.
The plans are spatially efficient but also experiment with visual perspective to give the illusion of pronounced depth, caused by the diverging lines of the walls and ceiling.
Ott’s Yard represents vPPR’s breakthrough project, clearly demonstrating the practice’s willingness to explore dynamic forms while working in sensitive locations.
It is an award-winning housing scheme, receiving an RIBA London Regional Award, as well as two awards at the Ideal Homes Show’s Blue Ribbon Awards: Ideal Home of the Year and Housing Architect of the Year.
It was also shortlisted for the Stephen Lawrence Prize, which recognizes fresh talent working with smaller budgets.