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Brill Place Tower

Innovative tower in a central London location

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Client: London Borough of Camden
Status: Planning permission granted
Location: Central Somers Town, London
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Type/Sector: Residential

Collaborators

Structural engineer Booth King
M&E consultant Skelly&Couch
Environmental consultant Ramboll
Sustainability consultant Skelly&Couch
Landscape consultant DSDHA
Masterplan architect DSDHA
Façade engineer BuroHappold
Planning consultant Turley
Fire engineer Buro Happold

Offering vertical Central London living in the heart of Somers Town, Brill Place Tower is a component of Camden’s ambitious Community Investment Programme (CIP). The programme will deliver affordable housing, community facilities, a primary school and private housing within a redefined public open space.

Collaborators

Structural engineer Booth King
M&E consultant Skelly&Couch
Environmental consultant Ramboll
Sustainability consultant Skelly&Couch
Landscape consultant DSDHA
Masterplan architect DSDHA
Façade engineer BuroHappold
Planning consultant Turley
Fire engineer Buro Happold
Brill Place Tower
View from high street
Brill Place Tower
Terraced apartment interior
01 Somers Town

Community Investment Programme

Somers Town is a little-known area in Camden that occupies approximately three hectares between Euston and St Pancras stations. Despite its central location, it remains one of the most disadvantaged parts of the Borough.

The Central Somers Town CIP aims to rejuvenate the fragmented set of open spaces and existing community facilities in the area. It provides affordable housing through the delivery and sale of a private ownership residential tower. This ambitious brief demanded the smallest possible building footprint whilst maximising value within a highly constrained Central London location. Designed to meet Camden’s ambitious environmental standards, it will connect into the site-wide energy strategy.

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Typical floor plan
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Master plan
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Elevation
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Concept sketch
02 An innovative, ‘light touch’ design

The scheme adopts a ‘light touch’ approach with a small footprint, a slender profile to minimise overshadowing to neighbours, and a transparent plinth that maintains views through to Purchese Street Open Space

The design for the tower reconciles a complex set of site constraints – the siting adjacent to St Pancras Station, the newly completed Francis Crick Institute and the two- and three-storey properties of Coopers Lane Estate. The tight urban conditions could not accommodate a conventional tower floor plate. Instead, a new typology of paired micro towers has been developed. The footprint of the proposed tower consists of two parallel elements, the northern of which is slightly slimmer to allow for views into the park from all apartments.

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No big block
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Slim to maximise daylight into apartments
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Lift the base to relate to surrounding buildings
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Slide the massing to increase views and daylight
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Step massing to respond to context
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sculpt massing to add roof terraces
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Finished
03 ‘Scissor’ profile

The development is 25 storeys high, including a double- height ground floor and top floor, plus a single storey basement.

The distinct micro tower elements are expressed as vertical forms that taper at high level to a point, creating a ‘scissor’ profile of opposing slopes. The design has been developed in a considered way and appears as slender and unobtrusive as possible. The reducing floor plate towards the peak offers a skyline profile that echoes the steepled skyline of the St Pancras clock tower. The arrangement of the apartments within the tower maximises daylight and views. The imposition of the Crick Institute has resulted in a principle east/west aspect with long views north into the park.

The highly articulated façade is composed of balconies, projecting window bays and winter gardens, which is an expression of the internal organisation. All apartments enjoy wraparound, glazed corners offering panoramic views. The primary glazed façades are shaded by sliding solar control screens. These screens provide animation, privacy and a consistent expression to the façades. These elements also enclose the balconies providing an extended living space, and are expressed with a bespoke pattern that takes inspiration from Francis Crick’s DNA sampling.

Aerial of overall masterplan showing Brill Place
04 A social investment model

Somers Town has approximately 5,000 residents, with nearly 70 per cent living in socially rented homes.

As Camden has significant landholdings in the area, this gave the team the opportunity for an ambitious vision, working across council directorates to make the best use of land and buildings to maximise public benefit and investment back into Somers Town. Government cuts meant that proposals had to be self-funding and address the long-standing issues and investment priorities of local people, such as the need for new homes, improvements to public open space and a reduction in opportunities for crime and anti-social behaviour. This was a once-in-a-generation chance to harness the benefits of economic growth to tackle inequality for a cohesive and sustainable Somers Town.

 

DSDHA were the masterplanners, Adam Khan designed the new community facilities and 10 social homes, Hayhurst and Co designed the school and Duggan Morris Architects the social housing blocks. Landscape and public spaces were the drivers for the overall scheme rather than individual plots. The involvement of the community throughout was imperative in shaping the design process. In an area characterised by change, it has been challenging for some residents shaken by previous developments. However, the design teams worked collaboratively with each other, the residents and stakeholders to produce exemplary buildings responding directly to the needs of Somers Town residents. The provision of a new school, community facilities, homes and open space at zero cost to the taxpayer was a significant achievement.

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Front elevation from high street
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Upper floor apartment view
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Residential lobby illustration

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