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A cutting edge residential development in West London is making a design statement with its use of Rockpanel Woods. The 200 one and two bedroom unit development in Notting Hill stands 18 floors high, with spectacular roof terraces and a sunny south facing courtyard. It offers residents the choice of private ownership, shared ownership or rental. Isleworth, 661 London Road, was developed by Berkley First, part of the Berkley Group, on the site of a vacant and decaying office block.

Soft, light and warm feel of wood
Munkenbeck & Marshall Architects, and subsequently Stephen Marshall Architects, worked closely with Berkely First on the project. Their design vision draws on the site’s local context to develop a large scale residential building which despite its size has a soft, light and warm look.

Naomi de Graaf, Architect at Stephen Marshall Architects says, “Our vision was to create a building of very large proportions, but one that complemented its environment, and did not simply become an ugly monolithic structure out of context with its surroundings. To achieve this we decided to use timber cladding to give the building a soft, light and warm feel. Initially we considered using a laminate timber, but planning officers disliked the ‘yellow’ tone of the product, so we decided to research other cladding options.

A range of finishes for every design vision
Our partners at Berkley First had already used Rockpanel in a number of projects and they were quick to recommend the product. We discovered that Rockpanel was available in a wide range of timber finishes and the beech finish was exactly the tone we were looking for. Because each Rockpanel board is unique with no pattern repeat, the overall impression of the building is that of a real wood finish.”

The product met Berkley First’s high safety and environmental certifications standards, which some cladding materials did not. For a building of such height it was important that the cladding used had a high fire safety rating, and Rockpanel proved to be ahead of the field in this. Also important was Rockpanel’s durability and low maintenance, vitally important when cladding buildings at such high levels.

Easy to install and excellent environmental rating
Naomi de Graaf continues, “As a practice we were impressed with the easy to install nature of the product which is a major benefit in cladding buildings of such height. We liked the way that we were able to achieve clean lines to give the project its seamless appearance. In fact we liked it so much so that we decided to use Rockpanel in other parts of the development, such as for the building’s ‘eye lashes’ and the car park louvers, instead of the standard metal we had planned.” Isleworth, 661 London Road was completed in summer 2007 and was sold to Notting Hill Housing Association in September 2007.

The development was awarded an ‘excellent’ rating in the Eco Homes award programme in 2008. The developers and architects have also discovered since the building was completed that it performs exceptionally well on thermal value. The cavity formed between the cladding and the outer wall was filled with high quality insulation material, and rain water and condensation are now removed naturally by air flowing through this cavity, so the insulation material will remain in good condition, be very effective, and have considerable longevity.

All the advantages of wood and stone
Naomi de Graaf concludes, “Rockpanel Woods enabled us to achieve our design vision for Isleworth. We have found that the product has all the advantages of wood and stone in terms of its aesthetics and durability, and none of the disadvantages of either! It has been cost effective to use and its environmental credentials have helped us win excellent environmental ratings for the development.”
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