Belle Vue, London – Projects

Belle Vue,

Belle Vue is an RIBA Award-winning senior living development in Hampstead that shifts the retirement home paradigm. The £30m scheme, designed by Morris + Co for developer Pegasus Life, is defined by four interlocking blocks that vary in height, up to a maximum of ten storeys, with a beautiful, subtly variating bevelled brick facade with inset balconies. Residents of the 59 apartments have access to a swimming pool, spa, gym, residents’ lounge, library and garden, as well as a public restaurant and cafe. There is automated car parking in the basement.

The project presented numerous complexities which all required a carefully thought-through approach. To start with, the site is in a conservation area on a steep hill, with a 3m level change over the plot. It shares boundaries with residential buildings, a primary school, and a private road leading to the Royal Free Hospital, which had to be constantly operational and could not be blocked at any time. As this road provided the only access to the site, this requirement proved a serious constraint for site deliveries and had to be considered from the outset. Following numerous option studies, including precast concrete and CLT, which were developed up to Stage 3, Elliott Wood selected an RC frame solution that would minimise oversized deliveries and support the complex geometry of the chamfered brick facade.

Below ground we were met with many more challenges. The area had been bombed during the war, which meant there could be unexploded ordnance on site. Using bomb maps and eyewitness records, excavation was undertaken with the utmost care, first probing the ground prior to piling. Identifying this constraint in advance was important, as it allowed us to factor the extra time into the programme. Once excavation was underway, an ancient well was discovered, for which Elliott Wood devised a new foundation solution which involved a system of cantilevers that eliminate any load onto the structure.

Adjacent to the site, there was a subterranean bomb shelter which had been repurposed as a Ministry of Defence (MoD) archive, and whose movement tolerances were unusually low for an adjacent structure. We designed the foundations with this in mind, and worked with a geotechnical specialist to obtain a ground movement assessment, which showed that the movement would be within tolerances and allowed the MoD to approve the design.

Elliott Wood then turned to incorporating a car-stacking system in the basement, which required a double-height space and significantly impacted the design. It was important that we understood the weight distribution of the equipment early on in the design process, which led to us implementing contiguous piles around the perimeter. We also had to incorporate a large attenuation tank, for which we designed a dual-purpose slab that would first be used as a crane base and then as the tank base, after the crane was removed – a solution which saved both materials and time on site. Our designs also responded to Camden Council’s stringent requirements for basement impact assessments.

Elliott Wood’s civil engineering team designed a new drainage network to redirect the drainage for the adjacent school building, which previously ran through the site. The works minimised disruption to the school, which is used year-round.

Belle Vue provides thoughtfully designed spaces that ensure a high quality of life for its residents, thanks not only to excellent physical accommodations, but also to the personal connections these spaces will cultivate, whether with fellow residents or local community members. Together, these aspects will allow senior Londoners to get the very best out of their golden years.

Belle Vue, London
Belle Vue, London
Belle Vue, London