Satish Jassal completes bungalow on north London backland site

This was a very tricky backland site, but the key message is that with careful planning, you can succeed. Good design does not cost more. It’s about careful consideration of context and materiality.

The narrow access via the alleyway governed many of the design, construction and material considerations, from the steel screw piles that could be installed without a piling rig to the use of small modules (like the bricks) that could all be delivered via trolley. Parking bays on the road also needed to be suspended for deliveries and to use the space for storage.

The house is powered by an air source heat pump, while a green roof sits across the whole bungalow.

Location Haringey, London
Start on site March 2022
Completed January 2023
Gross internal floor area 66m²
Form of contract Traditional RIBA Concise Building Contract
Construction cost £270,000
Construction cost per m² £4,090
Architect Satish Jassal Architects
Client Shazad Ashiq
Structural engineer Corbett Tasker
Project manager Satish Jassal Architects
Interior designer Satish Jassal Architects
Approved building inspector London Building Control
Main contractor PK Construction London
Groundworks contractor All Ground Solutions
Energy consultant Atspace
Arboricultural consultant Arboricultural Solutions


Constructing the house was like building through a straw. Despite the challenging site, the result is a home that brings light, volume and materials to the fore.

The exterior plays with a number of materials, with brickwork walls, oak-framed glazing that sits on white stone sills, and black steel used for the entrance gate and the brise-soleil over the doors and windows. As a practice, we’re known for our use of brick to create highly crafted and thoughtfully detailed buildings, and this is no exception: the hand-made bricks have a rough, imperfect texture, brought to the fore by recessed pointing, creating a more lived-in feel that helps the building bed into to its environment. Vertical stack-bonded brickwork meets horizontal stack-bonded brickwork at parapet level, with neatly turned corners: the house’s dimensions were carefully worked out based on a single brick module.

Inside, the brickwork has been left exposed in places and oak flooring is used throughout, creating a harmonious material palette. The two pyramid-shaped coffered roofs, made from glulam beams and sitting on a perimeter steel frame, culminate in timber ‘chandeliers’ suspended beneath the rooflights. Concealed LED strips light the ceiling to emphasis its 3.5m height and giving the illusion of a larger space.


Project data

Two offset volumes create a courtyard entrance and another courtyard to the rear, with a central living-dining-kitchen space and two diagonally opposite bedrooms. Each volume is topped with an asymmetrical pyramid-shaped sedum roof, punctuated by a rooflight with the aim of giving onlooking neighbours a better view than the existing ad hoc retail and restaurant extensions.

Due to the narrow access via the alleyway, construction was challenging. Steel screw piles had to be installed without a piling rig while the bricks had to be delivered via trolley. Overall about a quarter of the building cost was spent on the logistics of navigating the site.

Architect’s view

The brief for the project was very open – basically ‘see what you can do’ – and we took the project from planning to completion, including design and project management.

Satish Jassal, director, Satish Jassal Architects

Located behind a butcher’s shop on the busy Turnpike Lane, the site is accessed via a 1m-wide covered passageway between retail premises.

Externally, a number of materials have been used: brickwork walls, oak-framed glazing on white stone sills and black steel entrance gates and brise-soleil over the windows and doors. Recessed pointing aims to create a more lived-in feel to the brickwork, helping it bed into its context, while vertical stacked brickwork meets horizontal stacked brickwork at parapet level to help breakdown the mass.

The shop owners had owned the site for 30 years and wanted to unlock the potential of a 110m² overgrown piece of land to the rear.