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Architects line up for Elephant work

Some of the UK's best up-and-coming architectural talent has been picked to lead the design teams during the regeneration of London's Elephant and Castle.

Among the firms named last week are s333, Sarah Wigglesworth and Haworth Tompkins.

They will take part in an innovative procurement process that aims to 'put pay to the replicated social-housing model of yesteryear'.

In the drive to ensure striking urban design and architecture through the area's 10-year redevelopment, Southwark has separated the housing association and architectural procurement processes, and invited architectural practices to form a competition panel that will bid for housing sites as they become available.

Fourteen sites, all located around Elephant and Castle, will form mixed-tenure replacement housing for Heygate Estate residents moving over the next five years.

When sites are ready for development, the council will invite three or four practices to submit proposals against an initial brief. The offices will then present these to a selection group made up of housing associations, council officers, tenants' representatives and politicians.

Chris Horn, Elephant and Castle development director, said the council is determined to establish an approach that enables architects to respond to the contexts and challenges of individual sites, which range in size from 15 to 200 units.

'We want to see stunning modern urban buildings, not bog-standard house types - we've had a generation of that at the Elephant,' he said.

'We've always said that social housing shouldn't be visibly different from housing for sale, and this panel will help to ensure design quality throughout the entire early-housing sites building programme.

'It's not meant to be a slight on housing associations and the design teams they use, but we wanted to target young practices that would bring a real passion to the design of new homes that can reflect the excitement and vitality regeneration has brought to Bankside and north Southwark generally,' Horn added.

by Ed Dorrell

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