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Adelaide Wharf by AHMM

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More Homes, Better Homes: The AJ presents twelve exemplar housing schemes

Adelaide Wharf is a pioneering mixed tenure housing scheme comprising 147 new homes and 650m2 of workspace. Located on the Regent’s Canal in Hackney, a key regeneration area of London, First Base has created sustainable, adaptable homes set within a safe environment with communal facilities.

The scheme is the first to be delivered as part of English Partnerships’ London-Wide Initiative, with a mix of privately sold, key worker and socially rented apartments. There is no visible differentiation between tenures and all homes are built and managed to the same high specification. Adelaide Wharf combines sophisticated urban intervention, emerging efficient construction technologies and the latest thinking in residential development.

Apartments and some offices extrude into a prototype block folded to create a U-shaped court fronting onto the canal, an axial route and a park. The extrusion is cut away at ground to allow glimpses into a leafy communal courtyard. Each apartment has an outdoor room, part-hung, part-cantilevered out over the streets. The building’s facade is composed of layers of roughly sawn larch that makes reference to the warehouses of packing crates that once occupied this site.

Simon Allford, director, AHMM

Recommendation: Oxley Wood, Milton Keynes by RSHP

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The best thinking about the home addresses normative ideas of domesticity and then develops proposals for place, promenade, construction and density. These best models are almost all urbane and urban. For that last reason I commend homes in that centre of research, successful and not, named Milton Keynes. Not just because they are prefabricated for £60,000; or because their acoustic design recognises the need for dwellers to live both separately as well as together; or because they pursue a ‘modern’ aesthetic.

Oxley Wood by RSHP is important because it challenges the ruthlessly efficient financial model of poorly designed clusters of dead-end boxes that choke the life from every village, town and city.

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