London, UK. 2013-16


Arch-within-Arch

The PROJECT

Arch-within-arch is a telescopic, mobile building system for inhabitable infrastructure

Arch-within-Arch is a universal building system for inhabitable infrastructure, suitable for use in more than 10,000 railway arches throughout London
The building is a template for transforming the toughest of site conditions – noisy, vibrating, wet, dark, and poorly ventilated railway arches – into viable and attractive buildings
To naturally illuminate the dark, cavernous arches, solar reflective foils align with solar paths to collect, bounce and amplify daylight

In 2013, Undercurrent Architects won ‘House of the Year’ at the New London Architecture Awards for a house below a live train line.

This was due in part to the extreme environmental and technical challenges the project overcame, and in part as an exemplar – opening vast swathes of previously un-developable inner city land (with over 10,000 arches in London alone).

Subsequently, we worked on developing a universal solution: a telescopic Arch-within-Arch (GB1610384.8). This provides a template for transforming the toughest of site conditions – noisy, vibrating, wet, dark, and poorly ventilated railway arches – into viable and attractive buildings.

Technical challenges included managing noise from overhead railway lines less than 2 metres away – in addition to vibration generated by 265 tonne trains passing frequently overhead. As a result, specialised acoustic insulation was developed using straw and rubber, combined with vibration cushions to float the entire building off the ground.

To naturally illuminate the dark, cavernous arches, solar reflective foils align with solar paths to collect, bounce and amplify daylight. This is combined with asymmetric glazing to maximise the amount of daylight captured, while still achieving superior acoustic performance.

To address a legal requirement that restricts fixtures into the viaduct, a mobile, telescopic shell structure was developed. This entailed the unusual use of lightweight construction for acoustic dampening, and an innovative combination of straw and rubber to achieve desired noise proofing with low mass materials.

Arch-within-arch is a telescopic, mobile building system for inhabitable infrastructure.

The building’s shell structure can be prefabricated off site and telescopically loaded section by section into place

Floor plans showing 3 telescopic states – i) full extension ii) compaction rear; iii) compaction front
Pre fit-out building shell
Cutaway through telescopic chambers
Map showing various elevated railway lines in central London, all with arched viaducts

Project Team

Undercurrent Architects : Didier Ryan, Tao Gatto, Yoko Chang

Munro Acoustics : Phil Pyatt

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Concept

Behind the scenes

Archway studios

Projects

Policy Context

Behind the scenes

Design Footnotes

Behind the scenes

council changes planning law

News

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