The practice’s latest project highlights its interest in brick and timber, and underlines its reputation for handling complex sites

Satish Jassal Architects has successfully completed the construction of a single-storey house on a challenging backland site in Haringey, north London. Despite the site’s narrow access and proximity to bustling Turnpike Lane, the practice has sought to create a home that prioritises light, volume, and the innovative use of materials.

The project originated from the site’s owners, who had held the land for three decades and wished to unlock its potential. With a broad brief of “see what you can do”, Satish Jassal Architects led the project from conception through to completion on site.

The house features a distinctive design with offset volumes that form a courtyard entrance and a rear courtyard. A central living/dining/kitchen area connects the two diagonally opposite bedrooms. The asymmetrical pyramid-shaped sedum roofs on each volume, adorned with rooflights, were created to soften the view from neighbouring properties.

The exterior of the house employs a variety of materials, including brickwork walls, oak-framed glazing with white stone sills, and black steel elements for the entrance gate and brise-soleils. Satish Jassal Architects has developed a reputation for meticulous use of brick, which is again on display with this project.

The handmade bricks, enhanced by recessed pointing, lend a textured and imperfect quality, that is intended to help the building blend harmoniously with its surroundings. The house’s dimensions were also calculated based on a single brick module, helping to facilitate precision during construction.

Internally, the same material palette continues, with exposed brickwork in certain areas and oak flooring throughout. The coffered roofs, constructed using glulam beams and a perimeter steel frame, culminate in timber “chandeliers” suspended beneath the rooflights.

Natural sunlight highlights the sculptural ceilings during the day, while concealed LED strips create an eye-catching lighting feature at night, accentuating the sense of spaciousness within the house’s modest 66 m2 footprint.

Sustainability was a priority, with the incorporation of an air-source heat pump and a biodiverse green roof.

The narrow access through the alleyway significantly influenced the design, construction, and material choices. Solutions such as installing steel screw piles without a piling rig and using small modules like bricks, which could be delivered via trolley, were implemented.

Parking bays on the road were temporarily suspended to accommodate deliveries and provide storage space, and approximately a quarter of the building cost was allocated to navigating the logistical challenges of the site.

Satish Jassal said: “This was a very tricky backland site, but the key message is that with careful planning, you can succeed. Good design does not cost more. It’s about careful consideration of context and materiality.”

Project details

Completed: January 2023

Gross internal floor area: 66 sqm

Form of contract/ procurement route: Traditional RIBA Concise Building Contract

Construction cost: £270,000

Construction cost per m2: £4,090

Architect: Satish Jassal Architects

Client: Shazad Ashiq

Structural engineer: Corbett Tasker

Project manager: Satish Jassal Architects

Interior designer: Satish Jassal Architects

Approved building inspector: London Building Control

Main contractor: PK Construction London

Groundworks contractor: All Ground Solutions

Energy Consultant: Atspace

Arboricultural: Arboricultural Solutions