Located along the iconic Regents Canal, Tasou Associates Canal House (2020) seeks to reinvigorate a neglected site with a prominent frontage. The relation between the wider site and the canal was key to the design; the house takes advantage of views along the waterway whilst landscaping and planting is intended to help reinvigorate biodiversity in the area.
Only a ten minute walk from St Pancras & Kings Cross train stations, the site is surrounded by taller apartment buildings consisting of varying materiality. The opposite bank features the publicly accessible towpath which sits below a high retaining wall, above which is a collection of terrace housing. This prominent location places the Canal House in direct view of the busy pedestrian walkway between the recently developed Coal Drops Yard and the busy Camden Market.
The Canal House utilises hand made grey-brown bricks which contrasts the surrounding apartment buildings without being overstated. Despite a generous first floor living space, the ground floor footprint is relatively small; allowing a connection between the canal and the wider site, which will eventually be paved to create a Mews-style environment. The main mass of the building is likewise determined by the surrounding context; designed to retain the views and privacy of its neighbours. The result of this sensitivity is strategically angled external walls as well as a pitched kitchen roof, dipping to meet the old boundary wall of 16 St Pancras Way Internally, this creates a unique kitchen layout with obscured skylights above the countertop.
Internally, the ground floor sits below the water level of the canal, accommodating more intimate bedroom spaces. The outlook from these rooms provides a unique view of the canal from water level, emphasising the strong connection to the surrounding context by placing residents at eye level of the passing barges. These enclosed spaces are contrasted by the first floor, which provides a modern open living space with unparalleled views along the waterway. A timber bench highlights the large corner window before extending further into the room, anchoring the views to the modern internal space. The open living area is separated from the kitchen and dining space by a sculptural timber staircase; the spine of the building which transforms the circulation into a beautifully crafted oak feature leading up to the third floor.
Although yet to be implemented, the landscaping of the site was designed under the advice of the Canal and River Trust in order to prioritise and encourage biodiversity along the water. This planning includes the removal of the existing mesh fence which separates the site from the canal and the planting of native species along the site boundary.
Although the main purpose of the Canal House is to function as a practical home for its residents, the design has also strived to respond to the wider context and positively influence the surrounding urban environment. Surrounded by taller apartment buildings, it is unique in its scale and intentionally occupies as little space as possible.