Copper Lane London 2009–2014

London’s first co-housing scheme consists of six homes. The architecture supports an “intentional” community and, with its shared facilities, heralds radical changes in the urban home. It shows how architecture can respond to a new social need that has arisen through changes in both lifestyles and economics, making home ownership more affordable as well as shaping more convivial and sustainable neighbourhoods.

Image 1

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    1-6 Copper Lane replaces a disused children's nursery on a 1,000m2 backland site behind residential streets
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    The design strategy was to develop a building type that manifests the idea of “communality” and to maximise external space
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    The “cluster” model places a court at the heart of the site
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    Compared to typical terraced houses where the public sphere ends at the front door, it is clear on entering 1-6 Copper Lane that, although defined, boundaries between public and private space have been extended beyond the norm
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    The timber elevations to the court use wider boards and planted battens. This, more rudimentary, detail castes strong shadows and is more tactile than the smoother outward elevations
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    The communal facilities are located beneath the court at the heart of the scheme
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    The houses share a palette of simple and robust materials
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    Inside walls and ceilings are unpainted natural white plaster, the upper floors and staircases are white-oiled Douglas Fir timber and the lower ground floor is screeded
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    Here, morning light floods into a south west-facing living space
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    “Landscape” timber framed windows allow oblique views within the site
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    A family of staircase "types" are employed. In one house the stair incorporates a window seat
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    The philosophy reduces the households' collective impact on the environment in the construction of their homes and in their daily lives
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    The four 3-storey houses are clad in untreated vertical timber boards, the two 2-storey houses in brick
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    The scheme allows for a continuous perimeter of communal gardens which offer varied growing conditions and atmospheres. As a result, there is a strong feeling of the project being intrinsically linked to its land
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    Both the perimeter gardens and the inner court emphasise this bond to the site
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    The performance of the building fabric - insulation, air tightness, and heat recovery ventilation - plays a vital role instead of expensive and unproven technology
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    Perspective from north east: the embodied energy of construction has been considered in every respect: recycling waste material from the demolition; timber superstructure; timber cladding; timber fenestration and partial green roofs
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    Site model
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    Lower ground floor plan: the main outlook of the houses is outwards into the gardens, rather than facing inwards around the court
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    Upper ground floor plan: the six households are planned around a shared communal hall, workshop and laundry
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    First floor plan


  • Appointment: 2009
  • Construction start: 2013
  • Completion: 2014
  • Area: 795m2
  • Budget: £1.8m
  • Sustainable credentials: Annual CO2 Emissions: 7,300kgCO2
  • Form of contract: JCT Intermediate
  • Client: Six Families
  • Contractor: Sandwood Construction
  • Services Engineer: AJ Energy
  • Structural Engineer: Rodrigues Associates
  • Quantity Surveyor: MPA Ltd
  • Planning Consultant: CMA Planning


  • Tom Greenall and Jane Wong, ‘Why residents must, must, must have a say in the design of their communities’, in: Big Issue (Online, 7 January 2024)
  • Copper Lane’, in: Architecture Today, issue 328 (Built Environment and Architecture Media, London, November 2023), p.19
  • , ‘Finalists unveiled for Architecture Today Awards 2023’, in: Architecture Today (Online, 7 July 2023)
  • Auguste van Oppen, Kirsten Hannema and Anouk Reintjens, ‘Copper Lane’, in: Meer Generatie Wonen (BETA office for architecture and the city, Amsterdam, 2023), pp.158–159
  • ‘Co-Housing: taking co-living a step further’, in: Estates Gazette (2 July 2016), p.27
  • Rosamund Diamond, ‘Gestaltung der Dichte’, in: werk bauen + wohnen (December 2015), pp.79–83
  • Ben Derbyshire and Jessica Drew, ‘The gold standard of housing: forget standardisation’, in: The Journal of The London Society, Autumn/Winter (2015), pp.22–27
  • New London Architecture, New Ideas for Housing, Autumn (2015), p.32
  • Jason Orme, ‘Better Together’, in: Homebuilding & Renovating (May 2015), pp.90–97
  • Jay Merrick, ‘Building Study Copper Lane’, in: The Architects' Journal (27 March 2015), pp.30–42
  • Mimari Tasarim, Yapi (Turkey) (April 2015), pp.142–146
  • Philippa Stockley, ‘Communal pick 'n' mix is showing the way’, in: The Evening Standard (25 February 2015), pp.28–29
  • Jay Merrick, ‘Excellent Ordinary’, in: The Architects’ Journal (9 January 2015), pp.51–52
  • Robert Bevan, ‘Designs for (affordable) living’, in: Evening Standard (7 January 2015), pp.34–35
  • Jonathan Bell, ‘Shaping Space’, in: Design Anthology (January 2015), pp.174–183
  • Luke Tebbutt, ‘How we will live in 2015’, in: Grand Designs (January 2015), p.47
  • ArchDaily (26 December 2014)
  • Archello (19 December 2014)
  • Luke Tebbutt, ‘Henley Halebrown Rorrison uses timber and brick for London's first co-housing development’, in: Dezeen (21 September 2014)
  • Matt Alagiah, ‘Communal Life’, in: Monocle Magazine, vol.8, issue 76 (September 2014), p.76
  • Rowan Moore, ‘Meet you in the laundry room...’, in: The Observer (31 August 2014), p.37
  • Pierre d'Avoine, ‘Building together: co-housing’, in: Architecture Today (4 August 2014), pp.24–33
  • Rob Sharp, The Independent Magazine (26 April 2014), pp.14–19
  • Richard Waite, ‘London co-housing designs revealed’, in: Architects’ Journal (7 February 2013), pp.20–21
  • 1-6 Copper Lane’, in: Divisare (Online, 8 April 2020)


  • Architecture Today Awards, Residential, (Shortlisted) 2023
  • Hackney Design Awards, 2016
  • Civic Trust Awards, (Commendation) 2015
  • Housing Design Awards, Custom Build, 2015
  • Blueprint Awards, Best Non-Public Project, (Commendation) 2014
  • Daily Telegrah Homebuilding & Renovation Award, Best Custom Build Project, 2014
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