MM ZeroC02 Roof Extension wins Planning Approval

Sustainable Design Objectives


Marcel Mauer’s zero carbon roof extension and interior refurbishment of a light industrial warehouse in Dalston, London won planning permission in February 2018. The news has arrived after a long planning negotiation. In the words of Antonio Pisano, director and co-founder at Marcel Mauer, consistency and commitment have been the most important devices for success.

The project is the result of a win-win partnership between a free holder and a long term tenant, who just so happens to be the architect. At the outset of the project Marcel Mauer’s sustainable value feasibility study ruled out the option of demolishing and rebuilding the entire block in light of loss of social value, local character and unlocked CO2. The project has since developed to maximise density whilst minimise alteration to the urban fabric.

“Planning negotiation has been particularly long and complicated highlighting the urgent need for a new national and local planning framework able to recognise the inequality of an undersupplied housing market and the requirement for a more data driven and less subjective system. It was only when the process was escalated to the top that someone eventually read the entirety of our report and understood what we are trying to achieve.”

The development will deliver the conversion of the third floor layout of the mid Victorian industrial warehouse, currently used as a two bed flat, into three dwelling units also including a roof extension. Sustainability is the core value of the development and the site will be used as a test bed for solutions to be then proposed to the rest of the terrace. Aquaponics tanks will be used to farm rainbow trouts and the resulting fertiliser will be used on a roof top veg allotment. The roof extension building will be entirely manufactured offsite to achieve the highest standard of thermal performance whilst maintaining natural ventilation. The roof has been designed to maximise the area for solar thermal and PV panels.

37 JCR digital painting impression

“Cities deserve all our love and commitment but they need to work a hell of a lot harder to demonstrate their sustainability. In order to guarantee a safe future for the next generation we need to decarbonise all infrastructure, not just the energy one. Housing, Mobility, Social, Workplace, Services etc. all sectors of human actives should point towards carbon negativity. PassivHaus standards, bio-philic planning and carbon negative should standard lexicon for both new built and retrofitting. (Marcel Mauer)”

In terms of design the propose new massing combines the geometric efficiency of environmental performance with the historical affinity to the roof-scape of 19th century European urban density. The aim is to deliver fun interiors for new quality housing with zero fossil fuels based materials.

The collaborative development mechanisms tested with 37 John Campbell Road have inspired the creation of startup, now a business partner of Marcel Mauer and focused on collaborative housing development.

In the words of Julia Lydall, RICS Quantity Surveyor and CEO at SpaceUp, London provides a unique opportunity:

“London suffers from an engineered undersupply in the housing market. Interestingly, also other former Commonwealth countries around the world with similar planning law to ours also suffer from very similar issues (LSE, 2017). Whilst we ask for a modern planning system we want to use our expertise in the construction industry to increase density whilst improving social and environmental value. Architectural design is the single most important enabler to achieve this. Following on from our experience with Marcel Mauer we would welcome new government’s incentives to deliver a consistent policy on roof extension in central London. Allowing permitted development of roof space will in some small way help release some pressure on the demand for living space in the capital. ”


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