Vaudeville Court: Levitt Bernstein

Name of project:  Vaudeville Court

Architectural practice:  Levitt Bernstein

Location: Finsbury Park, Islington

Type / function of building:  Housing – 100% affordable

Size:  13 dwellings / 0.3Ha site

Completion date:  December 2014

Client:  London Borough of Islington

Contractor:  Rooff

Design team / other consultants:              

Structural EngineerCampbell Reith

Services Engineer – Aecom

Sustainability ConsultantBaily Garner


Building summary

Vaudeville Court provides 13 social rented homes in a combination of family houses and apartments. The full potential of the tight urban site is utilised through a courtyard form with large family dwellings at ground level and apartments above. The scheme focuses on the provision of high quality affordable housing, maximising every surface for amenity space and opportunities for growing home produce. All dwellings are designed to exceed Level 4 CfSH with the design primarily focused on ensuring the wellbeing of occupants.

The design of the scheme aims to push sustainability beyond regulation but not necessarily to the extremes, in doing so it succeeds as a desirable and enjoyable place to live with very low levels of energy consumption. Feedback from residents as they have been settling in has been extremely positive.


Key points of brief and any design constraints

Design led wellbeing features:

  • 40% more storage than London Housing Design Guide (LHDG) in family dwellings
  • 25% more living space than LHDG in family dwellings
  • Six out of seven balconies exceed LHDG by at least 10%
  • All balconies designed to incorporate screened external storage
  • Integral bicycle storage within all apartments
  • Substantial garden rooms for family duplexes
  • New communal allotments shared with adjacent existing residents
  • Shared play provision with adjacent tower.

Sustainability led wellbeing features:

  • 100% dual aspect dwellings  to improve daylight and effectiveness of  natural ventilation
  • Code for Sustainable Homes level 4+
  • High fabric energy efficiency with MVHR
  • Measured air permeability of 2.48-3.00 m³/h.m² @50Pa
  • As-built predicted CO2 emissions 16.9 kgCO2/m2 (32% reduction in CO2 over Part L1A 2010)
  • Photovoltaic panels
  • Future proofing enabling connections to area-wide district heating system
  • Enhanced biodiversity design strategy
  • Sparrow terraces and bat boxes incorporated in building fabric
  • Sustainable drainage; sedum roofs and extensive green roofs.


Site context

The scheme, designed specifically for a garage site in Finsbury Park, is seen as an exemplar project, which can be replicated in other parts of the borough, on similar infill garage sites.

Sustainability Strategy

The design of Vaudeville Court places great importance on the following three main environmental themes covering urban design, the wellbeing of residents and energy consumption of the homes:

Creation of a micro community using landscaping and a ‘homesown’ concept

Community and gardens

As a strong part of the original ‘homesown’ concept, shared garden space and raised planting beds for growing fruit and vegetables were created between existing and new buildings for use by all. This close-knit development was designed to bring together a truly mixed and sustainable community, housing existing residents from the adjacent tower into the new terraces.


Enhanced biodiversity

The planting complements the local biodiversity action plan and consideration was made to climate change and the impact on the availability of water, longer growing seasons and changing species. Sparrow terraces and bat boxes were incorporated in the building fabric with compost bins provided in the gardens.

Green roofs

For a practical green roof strategy a mixture of species-loaded and sedum roofs were installed. Vertical planting has been integrated through climbing plants and trellises to maximise species-intensity where possible.

Sustainable drainage

The scheme has achieved a ‘Greenfield’ runoff rate with measures including permeable ground surfaces and garden planters to attenuate direct rainfall; green roofs to attenuate runoff from roofs, and water butts to capture a portion of remaining roof runoff.

Homes to improve comfort and wellbeing of occupants

Health and wellbeing

An underlying principle was to design a residential scheme that is safe, healthy, secure and creates a sense of place. The scheme has therefore been carefully designed in measures that will contribute to a resident’s health and wellbeing, such as quality of the indoor environment, promotion of cycling, growing food, gardening and social interaction.

Dual aspect homes

All homes were designed to be dual aspect to promote good levels of natural daylight and natural cross ventilation. The dual aspect units significantly improve internal comfort and sense of wellbeing for occupants.


Code for Sustainable Homes level 4+

The scheme achieves and exceeds the requirements for CfSH level 4, with a wide variety of credits sought across all nine categories. Credits were selected for those elements that would offer the greatest wellbeing and financial benefit to the tenants.

Climate change mitigation

The requirements for reducing CO2 emissions have been balanced with adaptive climate change mitigation measures through careful building and landscape design, including:

  • Cool building materials such as green roofs and living walls to limit solar gain whilst providing cooling through evapotranspiration, shading enhancement of local biodiversity and air quality. Light coloured materials for the walls and external paved areas also help to reduce the local urban heat island effect.
  • Permeable ground surfaces exert a cooling effect through evaporation of the water from beneath. Permeable surfaces also offer the additional benefit of attenuating surface water runoff at times of heavy rain.

Energy efficiency to reduce residents running costs

Reduction in CO2 emissions

The as-built scheme is projected to achieve a 32% reduction in CO2 emissions over Part L1A 2010. This exceeded the requirements to meet CfSH level 4 and the London Plan (25% reduction) to bring residents lower energy bills. The CO2 reductions are made up of fabric improvements, low carbon technologies and renewables.

Fabric energy efficiency

The homes have been detailed to be energy efficient: with a very efficient envelope; selecting construction build-ups to minimise heat loss. The building fabric was designed to exceed the targets set in Building Regulations Part L1A 2010, as per the as-built values below:

  • Solid Ground floor - 0.14 W/m2.K
  • Walls - 0.16 W/m2.K
  • Roof - 0.13 W/m2.K
  • Windows  - 1.09 W/m2.K
  • Air permeability @ 50Pa - 2.48-3.00 m³/h.m².

Low and zero carbon technologies

Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery was installed to further reduce residents’ heating demand whilst roof mounted photovoltaics offset a portion of the electricity demand on site. Efficient individual gas boilers provide the most cost effective solution for residents’ heating and hot water, whilst the development has been future proofed to enable a connection to a district heating network.

Low flow water fittings and water butts

In line with the CfSH level 4 requirements, the development includes low flow water fixtures and fittings to achieve an average water consumption of 105 litres/person/day. Water butts have also been installed as a simple, low maintenance measure for external irrigation.