Social Housing

A public sector social housing scheme overlooking a historic protected south London park

Won through a mini-competition following call-off from a well-publicised local authority procurement framework this project redevelops an underused garage block on the edge of a well kept south London estate. It provides fourteen much needed additional social rent apartments, including fully accessible ground floor units and catalyses wider enhancements to public realm to reduce anti-social behaviour.

Designed and developed through virtual and outdoor engagement with local residents during the on-off lockdowns of 2021 this scheme had to be accepted by the established community living on the existing estate to become a success. Change is often understandably resisted and disruptive construction is often a concern. Recognising this early we worked hard to find ways to minimise the impact through two key measures: agreement with TfL that a wide pedestrian route that had previously been highway could be temporarily reopened for site access whilst still maintaining a pedestrian route, thus not causing additional pressure and damage to the existing estate roads. And secondly, through a commitment to use wherever possible of modern methods of construction (MMC) including off-site fabrication and repeating modular construction. This tangible care for residents key concerns built trust and a working relationship.

Due to the siting of the building on the edge of the estate, facing onto an historic and protected park, the building has no strict front or back. As an object building standing in space it needed to look good from all angles, mitigate loss of view into and out from the estate, whilst also being robust to last and hitting strict budget targets. A facetted hexagonal repeating plan form built in a warm grey brick with cast stone encircled detailing reduces the visual mass of the building and is more dynamic in changing light conditions than a ‘standard’ rectangular block. Whilst more unusual in form, the facets typically house the outdoor amenity provided by the inset balconies, leaving the key living spaces to be more regular in form. The plan stacks and there is an efficient core/circulation space, creating a high degree of efficiency in the plan.

With the building visible from the protected park, we worked closely with trusted Heritage Consultants to appraise the history of the context and develop a design befitting of its setting. With only the upper floors of the building visible, we looked to the surrounding area for visual clues and links, finding in the local parish church spire a vertical diamond form that we have worked into a moulded cornice, which has both a decorative spirit and practical function, screening roof level plant including solar PV and heat pumps.

Currently in planning, it is hoped this scheme will come forward for construction in the near future. We believe buildings of this type, scale and lasting robustness must be built on redeveloped plots in urban and suburban areas across the country to contribute to fixing the housing crisis we find ourselves in.

‘I’m thrilled that we will be working with Daykin Marshall Studio on this exciting project to provide new council homes on this estate. The studio demonstrated their excellent local knowledge of the area and their enthusiasm for the project during the interview process, and our residents were also impressed with their responses. We are confident they will create high-quality designs that our residents will be proud of’

Local Authority Portfolio Holder for Council Housing