Matchmakers Wharf on the Olympic fringe in Hackney and designed by London practice Stock Woolstencroft, is now complete and residents are moving in. The landmark waterfront scheme - for Telford Homes, L&Q and Acme Studios - transforms the derelict site of the old Lesney Matchbox toy factory and is adjacent to Hackney Marshes and the River Lea. Planning consent was granted in 2009 for the development which provides a creative mix of housing, commercial space and artists’ studios designed to bring cultural regeneration and a new vibrancy to the area.
The finished development comprises four residential blocks, in two buildings, varying in height and orientation and delivers 209 new homes, 49 artists’ studios and commercial space. Located in an identified Tall Building Opportunity Area, the new 15-storey tower replaces the old toy factory as a marker building on the route through Hackney Marshes to Leyton whilst landscaped courtyards, new seating and improved walkways nudge residents and the public to take advantage of the canalside space. The remainder of the residential accommodation is located within a lower block that wraps across the remainder of the site stepping from ten down to four storeys to reflect the scale of smaller development to the north.
The majority of homes at Matchmakers Wharf have balconies or terraces allowing residents to enjoy either the expansive green open views across the River Lea and Hackney Marshes, or upper level views across the Olympic Park, around to Canary Wharf and the City skyline. Lower levels can watch the canal boats meandering up and down this well-used waterway, which is being upgraded as part of the regeneration works to open the towpath for cyclists, joggers and walkers and include four new boat moorings designed in conjunction with British Waterways and the Environment Agency. In addition, a number of communal roof terraces are provided together with a children’s play space near to the larger family homes.
In addition to the homes, the scheme delivers 3,500 sq m of commercial space of which two thirds are artists’ studios designed in consultation with Acme Studios, a London based charity which provides affordable studio space, residencies and awards for non-commercial fine artists, and was partly funded by Arts Council England’s Grant for the Arts programme.
An energy centre will provide heat for the residential and commercial properties across the site and a biomass fuel boiler will deliver a 20% saving in carbon in accordance with the London Plan. The biodiversity strategy is supported by green roofs to aid surface water retention and rainwater harvesting as well as the provision of bat boxes within the site.