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Avanti's Lubetkin upgrade scheme starts on site

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Avanti Architects has started on site with its £5.5 million renovation scheme for a 1957 Berthold Lubetkin-designed housing project, for which the practice won a riba housing award last month.

Wynford House, part of the Priory Green Estate by Lubetkin and Tecton for Finsbury Borough Council in Islington, north London, was threatened with demolition after 40 years of maintenance problems and disrepair. The Avanti scheme, chosen by residents in open competition, will address a number of key themes in the architectural debate, marrying physical and management intervention.

The architect is working with Community Housing Association, which will manage the estate. Islington Council will dispose of the freehold interest in the property in return for a capital receipt and nomination rights to make 30 per cent of the upgraded properties available at social rents. The remaining units will be for sale or market rent.

The scheme involves adapting ground- and first-floor flats to large family maisonettes and purpose-designed disabled-persons units. Four private duplex penthouses will be added to the tallest block of the three, in place of redundant roof-top tank rooms. Avanti will reconfigure the entry porch with a new foyer with concierge reception, reduce the reliance on gallery access in the blocks, and eliminate connection between them, but a community centre on Wynford Road included in the competition-winning design has gone. Interior fixtures and fittings will be replaced.

John Allan of Avanti said he had tried to avoid the easy options of over- cladding or blanket coatings in favour of comprehensive concrete repair. The building envelope will be upgraded to exceed energy standards, and a new central heating system and lifts will be installed. Landscape architect Judy Hackett will rework the landscape to Lubetkin's original strategy. The scheme will take around 18 months to complete, and provide 84 units with clubroom facilities.

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