Success at the Building & Architect of the Year Awards 2023Published September 2023
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Ellis Court wins the Conservation Award for a Single Building Development
Ellis Court is a really important project that shows that deep retrofit can provide quality homes while retaining existing built heritage and managing the embodied carbon we are responsible for as part of our projects. It is also an excellent example of city centre regeneration bringing life back to what had been a derelict site for 13 years.
The original 19th century housing units were significantly below current area standards and qualitative requirements. On completion, the regeneration has provided a total of 19 apartments and 3 terraced houses fit for modern living.
While the buildings are not registered as protected structures, they are rated by the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) using the current criteria, as being of ‘Regional’ importance by virtue of the buildings being representative of late nineteenth century public housing, and so retain social significance due to architectural, historic and social values. The design solution sought to retain the building’s features of significance, while upgrading the layouts and fabric of the dwellings to comply with current housing standards.
The original sliding sash windows, timber shop front, granite window cills and cast iron railings were retained and restored to ensure the character of the structure remained inherent. Sand cement pointing was replaced with lime based pointing throughout to promote breathability of the existing solid masonry construction. Modern interventions, such as the steel framed balconies offer private open space to the apartment units, while creating a clear and distinct contrast between the old and new.
Access to the site is formed with gently sloped, paved ground surfaces with subtle recessed lighting to provide ease of entry. The central courtyard has been raised to provide level access at each of the building entry points. At the heart of the four-storey apartment block, two new lift shafts have been integrated into the central stair cores to ensure accessibility to all apartments.
The design intent sought to promote best conservation practice, while also implementing sustainable interventions. The solid brickwork walls underwent thermal upgrade by means of an internal, insulated, lime based plaster. WUFI analysis was undertaken to find a solution that provided an appropriate U-Value improvement, while mitigating the risk of interstitial condensation. Restored sliding sash windows were fitted with slim profile double glazing to retain the original window appearance. Sustainable materials, such as sheep’s wool insulation in the attic space of the terraced housing units were utilised. A variety of planting species are dispersed throughout the communal open space to promote biodiversity