W   S   P   A   C

W   S   P   A  C


Red Cow Terrace

Office S&M has secured planning permission for three new-build homes in St Albans, on a constrained, previously undeveloped site in a conservation area.

The scheme is located in Wheathampstead, an historic village with many notable buildings which have served as a key part of the design development. The site, historically known as Red Cow Field, slopes approximately two metres below the surrounding ground level, which the design makes the most of to ensure the new homes aren’t intrusive, with minimal visual impact on the street. The site is constrained by height and levels due to surrounding buildings and topography, and the challenge of retaining as many trees as possible further restricts the availability of land for development. Stringent local planning requirements on overlooking and back-to-back distances have demanded careful balancing in order to unlock the site.

The proposed homes have been designed to complement the listed buildings adjacent to the site. The designs reference the area’s historic character, making use of local materials and forms such as chimneys, overhanging eaves and undercrofts, while combining richly coloured glazed tiles and burnt timber shingles to create something new. Dark materials for the upper parts of the homes – clad with shou sugi ban charred timber shingles with an almost hairy pattern – reference the tarred boarding found in Wheathampstead. A cohesive design unifies the terrace, but each house has unique details.  Every front door is marked with a distinctive column, each one referencing a notable building in the village. Meanwhile, these “runes” are replicated as trellises and markings on the other faces of the building, lending them a shamanic tone. These motifs are carried through the detail of the proposal, from the hoppers and external lights, to the doorbell and doorknobs of the homes that are picked out in Oxblood red.

Each house is in excess of 130m2, and designed to be flexible and futureproofed, with a bathroom on each level, 10m2 of built-in storage, and a dedicated home office. A ground floor kitchen and dining room open on to the garden, and separate living space on the first floor affords views over the trees beyond. The plot for each house includes parking for two cars, five bikes, and a garden of more than 70m2. Communal areas provide planting, bin stores, and a carefully graded access route. Additional native trees, species rich hedgerows and wildflower planting will contribute to the biodiversity and character of the site.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with Office S&M on this scheme. Red Cow Terrace was unlocked by their acute attention to detail and vision. The scheme reinterprets the local context with a quirky design twist, utilising high quality, sustainable materials. Their innovative approach will have a positive impact on the character of the conservation area.”

Gavin Sherman, Director, Linea Homes       

Office S&M is currently working on other schemes on backland sites, including Goldsmith Mews in the historic Kent village of Chalk – a development of four homes replacing a row of derelict garages to create a new mews. The practice also advises local councils on small site policy, with their projects serving as examples for the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Croydon.

To read in more detail about how we transform the homes of our developer clients, please click here.


Location: St Albans
Project: New terrace of three houses 
Client: Linea Homes
Planning consented: 2022


Architect: Office S&M 
Landscape architect: Guarda Landscape
Planning consultant: Grade Planning
Transport consultant: Ardent
Ecology consultant: Cherryfield Ecology
Arboriculturalist: David Clarke Landscape
Heritage consultant: Heritage Information Ltd
CGI: William Bryan