Covert House

How can architectural agency ease London’s housing shortage while engaging with craft and specificity, at a time when standardisation and off-site construction seem to be the only solutions at hand?  

The Covert House lies hidden from view in Clapham Old Town, in the heart of a Conservation Area, just two miles from Parliament Square and London’s West End. Set in a pastoral landscape of mature trees and gardens, the house acts a case study for testing several hypotheses. They span from interrogating the idea of the ‘domestic’ at the beginning of the twenty-first century, through to asking how social and technological sustainability as well as wellbeing might be integrated into high quality design, without compromise. 

At a strategic urban scale, by reclaiming an overgrown site between two rear gardens, the design postulates on how a global city like London might be able to provide urgently needed new housing within its historic centres, amongst its fiercely defended low-density backlands. 

As a discreet family home set partially into the ground and hidden behind new tree planting, Covert House is designed with a few simple rules: to deliver sustainable design within a carefully curated and minimal palette, to creating a sense of domesticity within a language of concrete, and to do so without disturbing its sensitive setting and the 23 neighbouring properties adjoining the site. 

Concrete is the main material – either cast on site, left raw and unfinished, or precise and highly articulated. It is always read against ‘whiteness’, be it in the form of natural light, controlled and carefully calibrated to bring animation and delight deep into the plan, or represented though the use of white finishes for all the remaining surfaces beside concrete. The resultant architecture is precise and sculpted; calming and welcoming as a place to live. 

Sunken courtyards flood every room with natural light, always providing occupants with a direct visual connection to the garden and sky above. An elegant white concrete stair effortlessly mediates the spatial experience between levels within a double height space. 

Heat recovery systems, rainwater harvesting and solar panels allow an environmental performance that exceeds Code 4, in line with Passivhaus standards. 

Architect: DSDHA
Structural Engineer: Price & Myers 
Services/Sustainability Engineer: Max Fordham 
Enabling Architect (Construction): Knox Bhavan  
Planning Consultant: Bennett Urban Planning
  1. Projects
  2. Projects
  3. Research
  4. Research