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Make responds to Design Council CABE criticism of Croydon tower

Make has hit back at claims its 53-storey Cherry Orchard Road tower in Croydon is let down by ‘superficial styling’ and concerns about the potential quality of the ‘detailing and finishes’

Following the publication of a critical design review report by Design Council CABE last week, Ken Shuttleworth’s practice issued a detailed response (see bottom)and explained how the firm was working on a series of sample cladding panels for approval by the London Borough of Croydon.

CABE said the skyscraper proposals, although bold, required further work and also raised concerns about the ‘unsatisfying’ Billinton Walk public realm.

The South London tower scheme will create almost 500 town-centre homes as well as shops and community facilities and is backed by developer Menta. The scheme, which has already been redesigned (AJ 06.04.11), is expected to be recommended for approval.

CABE’s design review panel’s comments and Make’s responses

Public space and station access

CABE: The masterplan for this part of Croydon establishes a number of principles which identify new access routes around the station and well-defined plots for future developments. A hotel close to the station, growing out of the station bridge podium could be successful. While the position of the proposed tower and the hotel at the top of the stairs create a generous terrace around the new bridge, the scale of the development proposed and way the tower comes down to the ground could have an adverse impact on the quality of the space, particularly in terms of wind. The urban design issues around the Royal Mail building, Billinton Walk, the level difference and the connection to the station need to be resolved and we urge the local authority and the landowners around this space to develop a solution together.

Make: We agree with CABE’s comments regarding the Royal Mail building and Billinton Walk. These areas, while part of the East Croydon Masterplan are not within the Cherry Orchard Road site, this is why CABE urge “…the local authority and the landowners around this space to develop a solution together.”  As part of the agreed S106 proposals, the client will be contributing funds to the area but its delivery will be separate from the COR project.

Architecture

CABE: In our view, the proposed design approach which suggests a variety of materials and finishes requires rigorous testing and should be confirmed in more detail. To secure and deliver the intended quality of the façades, to reduce maintenance costs and to ensure that the buildings age and weather gracefully, details and materials should be conditioned by the local authority. We feel that the development of the original design concept has generated a superficial styling that is applied to the buildings rather than being informed by the functions of the buildings. In the case of Billinton Hill block, for example, the expression chosen is not well related to the internal anatomy of the building

Make: We believe that ensuring the delivered buildings are of the highest quality is vital for the regeneration of the East Croydon area. To ensure this happens material samples have been reviewed with LB Croydon and sample panels are being prepared and will be delivered to them prior to the committee. In addition, to ensure that the quality is maintained, the final detailing and materials of the cladding for all the buildings will be conditioned. The architectural expression of the Billinton Hill block reflects the varying unit sizes of the start-up offices inside and the potential future developments around the site. The articulation of the lower floors adjusts to reflect the new pub use inside.

Tall Building (Block A)

CABE: The case for a tall building adjacent to East Croydon Station is sound, but we do not think that the proposal fully achieves the design quality as set out in the CABE/EH Guidance on Tall Buildings, which states that tall buildings should be assessed against the most demanding standards. The base of the tower could benefit from further refinement to avoid the impact of wind and to moderate between human scale and the height and presence of the tower.

We do not find the elevational treatment and the surface finish, very elegant

We do not find the elevational treatment, particularly the articulation of protruding elements and the surface finish, very elegant. We urge the local authority to ensure themselves that a high standard of materials and finishes is being delivered. CABE’s view is that tall buildings, given their high profile and impact, should set exemplary standards with regard to sustainability and the local authority should ensure themselves that this is achieved.

Make: Wind tunnel analysis has been carried out and  shows that even in the worst weather conditions (winter) all public areas have conditions acceptable for the proposed uses. The form and articulation of the building, which reflects the internal apartment layouts, has been developed in consultation with the GLA, LB Croydon, the local community and via internal peer reviews at Make. Our 1:200 model of the Tower was selected as part of this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and we believe it is both elegant and dynamic. We agree that tall buildings should set exemplary sustainability standards and the proposed development will provide a carbon saving in excess of 20 per cent against the new 2010 Building Standards. Material samples are being provided and the final detail of the cladding will be conditioned.

Cherry Orchard Road Gardens (Block D)

CABE: The articulation of the elevations, particularly the relationship between the panel like elements that form the actual façade and the horizontal structure behind, could benefit from further development. Generally, the internal planning of the proposed block D is generous, but the inclusion of windows on return walls does not alter the fact that, in the majority of cases, these are single-aspect flats. The quality of the townhouses on Oval Road is compromised by the deck of the internal courtyard.

Make: The building is expressed as a series of room sized vertical layers which reflects existing Croydon residential articulation as well as the accommodation behind and creates a stepped roofline. We believe that increasing the horizontal expression within the facade would conflict with this overall intent. The apartments all conform with the definition of dual aspect in the emerging GLA London Housing Design Guidelines. A cluster core arrangement is employed to maximise the number of apartments with both a Cherry Orchard Road and shared garden aspect. The overall development has a total of 496 units. Two of the town houses on Oval Road have reduced light at ground floor level due to the deck of the internal courtyard. Should the application be approved, we have agreed with LB Croydon that the internal layouts of these two units will be revised post planning.

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