47 Lea Bridge Road
A project to build 20 new affordable homes in London is on schedule for completion in summer 2017. The new building will contain a mix of one, two and three bed units – utilising an innovative design to create living space in a crowded location. Overlooking Millfield Park in Hackney, the scenic site was previous home to the Clapton Synagogue.
Stephen Davy Peter Smith Architects set the ball rolling on the project by recognising the potential of the site and bringing it to the attention of the client, who subsequently went ahead with the purchase. The practice works extensively in Hackney where +1000 of their homes have been built. Lucy Newman, the project’s architect, spoke to Premier Construction about the origins of the development and the design of the building:
“We knew that the site had been derelict for some time and so there was the potential to try and renovate it and create a more active frontage overlooking the park. We also knew this particular client was looking for projects that would be 100% affordable and we thought this would be great for the location.
“The brief was agreed between ourselves and client rather than coming directly from the client. The idea was the site would be 100% affordable.”
Made from steel and timber, the building can be taken as two blocks. At the bottom you have two storeys at one angle then the building twists as it goes up across four additional storeys. The layout of the building means three bedroom units are positioned to the rear, one bedroom unit is in the middle and 2 bed units are at the front.
The aim was to create a pattern with the units as you move up the building. It was also important that the block facing onto the street was in brickwork, as Lucy explained:
“As you move down the street the brickwork gets paler and we decided to continue this theme by choosing a pale Chablis brick from The Bespoke Brick Company. It’s quite a creamy brick with a light grey mortar and we thought would match the street scene and work well.
“We designed the rest of the building to face onto the park. We wanted the elevation over the park to be different to street side. Obviously there are lots more windows and a greater transparency while as you move up we’ve pulled the building out. The cladding we’ve used has a green tinge which we think will work really well with the trees when they come into bloom.
“Internally we have a single access stair, with an external gallery access. This allowed us to move the building as far away from the neighbouring building as possible to avoid any overlooking issues. As you move up the building, the units reduce in size.”
On the upper floors you will find duplex units within an undulating roofline. At entrance level are the bedrooms, kitchen, dining room and bathroom. As you go up the staircase the whole top floor is a large living room and terrace that overlooks the park.
“It’s been an enjoyable experience working with a knowledgeable client and contractor on this challenging site, complex due to its proximity to the park and limited access.”
Once completed, one of the positives for the building will be its innovative use of a small space. On the flip side, construction in a tight space has thus been a challenge. Blackmore Building Services was tasked with overcoming this problem. Owner Alec Coggins talked to Premier Construction about the build:
“We as a company are very small but specialise in, and more importantly enjoy doing, challenging projects of which this is one. Access to the site is challenging and the actual physical build is challenging. The design is very nice and has a lot of architectural flair within it – the finished building will look very nice.
“Obviously because we specialise in affordable housing we’re putting something back into the community.
“We pride ourselves on our ability to complete projects on challenging sites that enable local people to have somewhere to live. Invariably areas were previously of no use so we effectively turn a derelict place into a useable space. We do a lot of projects in Waltham Forest and as a company have constructed over 100 properties in that area.”