Church Street

London. 2009

  • Project Details
  • Completion: 2009
  • Cost: £7 Million
  • Clients: One Housing Group

Church Street resolves a fractured grain by exploring ideas of a site within a site and a building within a building. Two villas – each composed of a group of interlocking volumes wrapped in a robust brick envelope – face each other across a communal courtyard on this deep but narrow plot. The pattern of openings punctuates the blocks and imposes a golden-section-derived sense of order over the complex geometries of overlapping forms. Developed for One Housing Group, this new build project accommodates 55 tenure-blind homes for families, couples and single people on the site of a disused shirt factory in London’s east.


Brick Awards: Best Public Housing Development 2009 CABE Building for Life Silver Standard Award 2009 Housing Design Award 2007

Developed for One Housing Group, Church Street is a new build development of 55 homes on the site of a disused shirt factory, wedged between post war housing, shops and a nursery school on a narrow street. Opposite the site is All Saints Church and its associated grounds, providing a green outlook to the north.

The development addresses the problem of a deep site with narrow street frontage by creating two five storey villas facing each other across an internal courtyard. Residents enter through one shared front door on Church Street, passing through the front block and into the courtyard to get to the entrance to the rear block. The courtyard is landscaped to provide secure and overlooked amenity space at the heart of the development.


The new housing provides accommodation for families, couples and single people, in a tenure blind development.  The North building fronting Church Street accommodates 36 shared ownership flats of predominantly 1 and 2 bedrooms, while the South building houses 19 rented homes of mainly 3 bedrooms, including two wheelchair units and two 4 bed maisonettes. A basement car park, naturally lit, accommodates 27 car spaces and 74 cycle spaces below the courtyard.


Response to Urban Context

The proposal has been designed to tie into the streetscape around it, by articulating the massing of the North and South villas to respond to the neighbouring buildings. The form of each villa is built up from interlocking elements of three, four and five storeys. On the Church Street façade, the four storey element aligns with the maisonettes to the East, whilst the three storey element aligns with the terrace to the West. The junction of these three and four storey elements is in the middle of the proposed frontage which is also opposite the churchyard gate, creating a natural place for the entrance to the development. The fifth floor is set back from the street frontage, but carries down to the ground on the courtyard elevation.


The pattern of openings is carefully proportioned, for either windows or recesses to internal balconies. At ground level, larger, more generous openings are provided at the communal entrances.


The windows are vertically proportioned, in a system derived from the golden section, and repeat across the façade in just two different sizes, depending on the room they light. Their head and cill heights are constant, while the widths vary. The same proportion of openings continues onto the balcony recesses, and around the corners, so that the solidity of the masonry is broken down at the edges of the blocks. The same proportioning system has been used for sizing the solid masonry panels between the windows to give a balance between solid and opening across the façade.

Each window has two inward opening leaves, with external glass balustrade panels so that they can all act as balconies. The cheeks to the recessed balconies are treated in a contrasting material to the external brick skin and have a glass balustrade panel aligning with the balustrade panel to the windows. Both help to reflect light into the balcony space and provide a smooth contrast to the more textured masonry.


Amenity and Security

The flats are all designed to Lifetime Homes Standards, comply with the Housing Corporation Scheme Development Standards and, in the area, are well above the Local Authority size requirements with storage carefully considered.


Security and amenity are carefully balanced - the development obtained Secured by Design certification whilst all flats have access to the communal courtyard. Each block has its own secure core, with a top lit stair and lift access, but all share the front entrance door and hallway. All flats except two one bed flats have some private outdoor amenity space, whether balconies or small gardens at ground.

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