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View: Grid List
Date
2015
Region
UK
Sector
Interiors Residential
Themes
Creativity Context Climate
Client
Private
Location
London Borough of Southwark
Performance
Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4
Contact
Johnny Winter
Awards
Blueprint Awards shortlist (2016) New London Awards shortlist (2016)

Pontifex Wharf - completed in 2015 - provides nine beautifully detailed apartments in a modern building that responds to the many layers of the history of London's Bankside.

Pontifex Wharf

The best of modern design shines through in Pontifex Wharf - yet it still feels very much part of Bankside's history.

Stoney Street retains its canyon-like character and the simple design of Pontifex Wharf's brick clad elevations, with deep set windows, and a colonnade, recalls the area's original warehouses and railway arches. 

Despite the narrowness of the street, the nine apartments - ranging from one to three bedrooms and including a penthouse - enjoy bright, generous spaces, each with a balcony and double-height windows. Every detail is finished to the highest standard. And these will be highly energy efficient homes.

Creativity

The simple composition and palette of materials - predominantly brick - used for Pontifex Wharf draw inspiration from the area's original warehouses. 

To maintain the strength of the brick as the major framing element of the elevation, a contrasting recessed metal clad panel was used to compose the secondary elements of the façade.

On the Stoney Street elevation, the recessed dark grey coloured aluminium panel is used to contain the windows of the apartments behind. The large scale of the double height windows creates a particularly distinctive elevation. This was achieved by the configuration of the apartments in section - which alternates entrances at upper or lower level in double height spaces. 

All apartments have double height space. This has the effect of opening up the interiors and countering the tightness of the street outside. Residents of Pontifex Wharf will enjoy generous, bright homes with high quality finishes, including polished concrete walls and warm wood floors. 

Each apartment has an inset private balcony providing a pleasant space to sit outside. Balconies have been carefully designed to balance both privacy and plenty of sunlight. Balcony balustrades - formed from powder coated steel fins - allow maximum levels of daylight and natural surveillance over Stoney Street and Winchester Square.

Context

Pontifex Wharf follows Evans Granary, completed in 2009, the first of four new and refurbished buildings proposed in Cullinan Studio's masterplan for Winchester Square, which is at the heart of a conservation area.

We wanted to restore the integrity of the urban fabric of a part of London whose history spans centuries - from 13th century Winchester Palace to the 19th century industrial architecture of wharfs, warehouses and railways. 

A thorough investigation of the site's structural history revealed layers of archaeology stretching back to Roman and mediaeval times. We designed a substructure that was as unobstrusive as possible within the Scheduled Ancient Monument of Winchester Palace. By using the existing concrete foundations of a demolished 1960s building, only minimal additional substructure was needed for five storeys of relatively lightweight construction. 

The modest scale and simple design of Pontifex Wharf reflects the history around it. The building's footprint maintains the historic building line - but we have set back the ground and first floors to create a new passageway through to Winchester Square, restoring a route visible in a 1799 plan. 

Bringing back this pedestrian link between Stoney Street and Winchester Square improves the permeability of the area and will also help enliven Winchester Square.

The height, massing, scale and materials of Pontifex Wharf reflect Bankside's historic character. The elevation along Stoney Street - with its brick clad façade - is supported on a brick colonnade, the scale of which responds to the brick arches of the railway viaduct on the other side of the street. The canyon-like streetscape of Stoney Street is retained. Deep set punched hole windows evoke the original warehouses.

The pavement on the east side of Stoney Street is very narrow. Entrances to the retail units have therefore been set back within the colonnade which creates a wider pavement.

Climate

At Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, Pontifex Wharf will provide energy efficient homes.

We initially ensured the thermal efficiency of the building's envelope. The strategy was then to use low energy air source heat pumps and mechanical cooling and ventilation. The dual aspect enjoyed by most apartments provides good cross ventilation. 

Re-using existing foundations had significant environmental benefits - CO2 emissions associated with production, transportation and installation of materials required for piling were greatly reduced. 

Pontifex Wharf is entirely car free - and cycling is encouraged by secure cycle storage within the ground floor of the building for both residents and those working in the retail units.