The five blocks of flats forming the Du Cane Road site were built in the late 1970s using the ‘Bison’ wall frame construction system. Standards of construction at the time, particularly with regard to insulation, were often low and the existing flats suffered poor energy efficiency, condensation and high heating costs. The site is sandwiched between a busy main road and an above-ground section of the Central underground line. Although demolition and new build were considered, the site constraints and associated costs meant that refurbishment was a more cost effective way of improving the flats.
A condition of planning approval and funding was that the 112 flats should achieve an Ecohomes ‘Very Good’ rating. While the flats were being refurbished a new floor was added to the top of each block, along with infill between two pairs of blocks, to create 44 new flats that were subject to a Code for Sustainable Homes assessment. The project provided an ideal opportunity to pilot the new BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment Scheme on a large-scale, complex project with considerable site and cost constraints.
Ducane Housing Association had three key objectives – a design that: