ZigZag North Chase, Newhall Architecture, Harlow Building, Architects, Photo, Design

ZigZag Newhall : Harlow Building

New Residential Buildings in Essex, east England design by ORMS Architects, UK

16 Jul 2010

ZigZag Building


Design: ORMS Architects

Newhall, in Harlow, Essex, winner of CABE Gold Building for Life awards, can now offer a central focus to match the excellence of its innovatively designed homes with the completion of the ZigZag, a mixed use landmark building that forms two sides of a new public square at North Chase, designed by architects, ORMS. In addition to providing 10 stylish residential apartments, the building includes a café and restaurant on the ground floor, alongside three flexible living spaces that accommodate room for offices. It is set to become a vital asset for the growing new community.

ZigZag Newhall
image from the architect

Named after its ‘lazy Z’ shape, the building features, above the ground floor, an unusual timber-clad exterior veil that includes shutters for each window, allowing windows to give the impression of almost appearing or disappearing as the building is used. According to the architect, John McRae at ORMS, the cladding allows the residents to animate the façade creating a constantly changing building, “a bit like an Advent calendar,” without relying on architectural devices.

The wood cladding accentuates the woodland beyond the building and provides a simple yet sympathetic architectural solution. At the end of the building the veil envelopes delightful balconies providing screened private space, each with a sliding section of the veil to control the amount of shading required.

McRae comments: “The idea is that as people inhabit the building they will open and close the shutters, which will mean that the building will change in appearance from day to day. It is a living building.”

Jon Moen of Newhall Projects said: “At Newhall we have always been prepared to follow our vision and bring in different architects to create outstandingly-designed buildings. The ZigZag is an innovative design that works with that vision to create a clear, central focus to what has become a successful living community. It is a fitting response to the surrounding woodland and also the adjacent buildings.

“The external veil works because the spacing of the vertical timbers provides a degree of solar shading and privacy, and the whole façade can appear monolithic or transparent depending on your viewpoint, adding real dynamism to the building.”

“The timber veil has allowed us to build a relatively cost-effective shell, because it is not visible, and then it combines with the effect of a louvered screen to change the appearance as the observer moves past the building.”

A further novel addition to the ‘life’ of the building is the incorporation of a rich blue background colour on the shell, which is only seen when one is at right angles to the façade. John McRae adds: “As the timber weathers to a natural silver tone, this blue will contrast strongly with it and make the façades appear to change almost as if they were advertising billboards.

The ZigZag design is primarily a result of the building’s relationship to the surrounding roads and the need to enclose the public space in front of it. It also has the effect of ensuring that no two façades are ever seen from the same angle, accentuating the different effects of the timber veil.”

The three-storey ZigZag has already become the natural focus of Newhall. The ground floor contrasts with the timber cladding and is almost transparent, with extensive use of glass on three sides, allowing views through from the square to the woodland beyond, with large sliding glass doors creating free-flowing space between inside and out.

The apartments, comprising three penthouses priced from £335,000, two one-bed properties from £189,950, five two-bed properties and three live-work flexible two-bed units from £295,000 – have dual aspect views. “There are views on both sides of the building,” continues Jon Moen. “On one side there are trees, which will be glorious, and the other side will look out to the south, so there will be sun later on in the day. It will feel very open. The flexible living spaces extend the restaurant’s glass façade on the ground floor.”

John McRae adds: “We did not design it to establish a mono-culture because people are different and have separate needs. That is why we have provided a variety of homes instead, so that buyers have choices.”

“This is a unique project. It takes the ambitions of Newhall to provide an environment where people can work, play, live and eat all in one spot – and where their children can play safely, even on the road. Usually land is sold to the developer who pays the most money, who, in turn, by the very nature of their having paid the most for it, builds high, quickly and in a generally uniform, pedestrian way. Newhall is completely different to these projects – it is an exercise in faith. It is not just about spreadsheet calculations and it has been a delight to work on the project.”

For further information about the homes available for sale at North Chase, Newhall, please call the sales centre on 01279 416660.

ZigZag North Chase – Further Information

Newhall, the concept of Harlow landowners Jon and William Moen, was conceived from the outset as an innovative residential development where the very best in contemporary architecture would be complemented by ample green space and a true sense of community. As it grows, so this ethos grows along with it, and many residents enthuse about the community spirit, friendliness of their neighbours and feeling of freedom they experience there. For more information about buying at North Chase, Newhall please call the sales centre on 01279 416660 or visit the website at www.northchase.co.uk.

ORMS is a 50 strong team of architects and interior designers with a studio in London and projects throughout the UK. ORMS has a passion for creating buildings that embody fresh ideas and exceptional attention to detail. ORMS places a strong emphasis on designing from the inside out.

For ORMS an outstanding user experience is the ultimate measure of success, an approach that has resulted in many awards including, in 2007, the BCO’s Best of Best award. Despite its relatively small size, ORMS has a very broad portfolio including projects in the commercial, residential, education, leisure, retail and public sectors.

ORMS’ compact structure, collaborative ethos and pro-active knowledge transference enables innovations and ideas from each sector to be shared across the practice reinforcing ORMS ability to develop original solutions and win awards. ORMS is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2009.

ZigZag Newhall image / information received Jul 2010

ZigZag Newhall design : ORMS

Location: Harlow, Essex, England, UK

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Buildings / photos for the ZigZag Newhall Architecture page welcome

Website: Newhall England