Reinventing an industrial past

Nick Myall
Monday 19 Feb 2018

This new affordable housing scheme in Walthamstow pays homage to the area’s industrial past

A new housing scheme on Sutherland Road in Walthamstow, north east London, has recently completed, providing 59 affordable homes, and features a shared communal garden and health centre. Developed by L&Q and designed by Levitt Bernstein, the project has transformed a derelict industrial site into a new residential community. The scheme takes the form of a courtyard, with larger, four or five storey buildings to the south and east, falling to smaller, two storey mews houses at the west and a two storey health centre to the north. The aesthetic takes its cue from the industrial setting. 

The street elevation is wrapped in brick with a ‘random’ pattern of windows and balconies. Regular holes punched through give views of the courtyard, whilst the distinctive, irregular saw-toothed roof creates a sense of individuality. In contrast, the mews houses have a more traditional form, with steeply pitched roofs to reinforce the module of individual dwellings. This is offset by the chosen material: striking red corrugated metal cladding, again playing on the surrounding industrial context and giving these houses a strong identity. Notably, all homes, whether one or two bedroom apartments or three bedroom mews houses, are affordable and dual aspect. In order to future proof homes, roof spaces within the mews houses have been built with staircases and insulation already in place, allowing easy adaptation for the provision of additional bedrooms. Tony Harker, Sales and Customer Service Director at L&Q, said: “We are delighted with this scheme – not only does it provide much-needed, high quality, affordable homes for local people, but it is a striking addition to the streetscape that has been a catalyst for the wider regeneration of the area.” The landscape plays a crucial role in unifying the scheme. 

The colour of the mews homes spreads through the central courtyard space through the use of innovative recycled glass paving units and red planting species such as scarlet tulips, red sedums and berrying shrubs. A variety of environments are provided for residents, from formal lawns to a toddler’s play area. This space is designed to encourage informal use, whilst responding to the site’s industrial heritage by featuring small timber trains sat on inlaid steel ‘tracks’. A three storey opening in the south western corner of one of the apartment buildings creates a communal terrace on the second floor, providing relaxed amenity space with immediate views over the courtyard and beyond to the reservoirs further west. This opening also allows light to penetrate deep into the site, meaning the courtyard benefits from sunlight even in the darkest winter months. Gary Tidmarsh, Chairman at Levitt Bernstein, said: “The aesthetic of the new homes on this small site deliberately challenges the traditional vernacular of those nearby, and by doing so, reinvigorates and makes a substantial contribution to the transformation of the area.”

Nick Myall
News editor

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