Oak Tree Lane

Slab Design Union were approached by a private client to design a new family home on a redundant substation site in a Birmingham suburb.

The constrained site presented many challenges that quickly became an opportunity to further develop ideas regarding creative re-use of brownfield land and small sites for quality housing. Several options were explored for the plot, sited on a busy pedestrian and arterial traffic route linking Bournville to Selly Oak, with the main drivers being drawing as much natural light as possible into the plan, working with the existing topography and mature trees, and creating a building that was refined in its execution whilst providing a clear sequence of private and shared spaces.

The GIA of the building is 49.6 sq. m, on an overall plot size of 36 sq. m. The west elevation is pulled back from the corner to avoid overhanging tree canopies and create a small private terrace away from the public footpath to the east of the site. The structure is a series of double height concrete backing walls located around the perimeter and tied together with a post-tensioned concrete floor and roof slab to create a framed structure that allowed all internal partitions to be non-load bearing.

A recessed entrance creates external enclosures for bins and a protected canopy with first floor accommodation above. The floor to ceiling height of each floor is 2.45m with full height glazing to the east, south and west elevations.

The elevations consist of three materials. Long format Vandersanden bricks in two lengths with recessed black mortar, Corten steel doors, windows, spandrels, decorative panels, projecting surrounds and copings, and low-iron solar control glazing. The materials are used to delineate private and shared spaces whilst creating a subtle intervention on the site and establishing a clear relationship to its immediate context.

The interiors are natural ventilated with a simple palette of exposed cast concrete floors and soffits, suspended plywood rafts and lighting and a plywood stair and joinery ‘core’ linking the ground and first floors. Plywood glazed screens to the kitchen and circulation core draw natural light deep into the north side of the plan.

Client – Confidential
Type – Residential, New build
Location – Birmingham, West Midlands
Status – Feasibility