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Duggan Morris wins Forest Gate co-living contest

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Duggan Morris Architects has won an RIBA-organised international competition for a co-living development in Forest Gate, east London

The practice defeated vPPR Architects, Architype, Delvendahl Martin Architects and Knox Bhavan Architects to win the ‘Co-Living in London’ contest.

Open to registered architects around the world, the contest sought ‘innovative’ proposals for a residential development featuring a series of 19m2 micro-apartments in the Forest Gate area of Newham.

The project, backed by developer bedu.uk, aims to deliver a pioneering co-living community where facilities such as kitchens, utility spaces, play areas, gardens and outside areas are shared between residents. The project is the developer’s inaugural co-living scheme.

The five finalists were chosen from a 10-strong longlist, which included AOC Architecture, Surman Weston and Threefold Architects.

It is the first major win for Duggan Morris Architects since co-founders Mary Duggan and Joe Morris announced in June they were going their separate ways and splitting the business they founded nearly 13 years ago.

Commenting on the win, Morris, who has retained the Duggan Morris Architects brand, said: ‘Duggan Morris Architects are very excited to have won this rigorous and detailed design competition within the new sector of “co-living”.

‘We view co-living as a “common house”, where the shared spaces should be of a far higher quality than what could be afforded by oneself.

‘With co-living still in its infancy in Britain, Duggan Morris Architects are thrilled to be a part of this new type of housing that could help combat the isolation many people feel in their cities today, providing a supportive and distinct community structure.’

The competition focuses on the site of a light residential warehouse (pictured) near Romford Road. The single-storey complex – surrounded by a hotel, mosque and kitchen joinery workshop – is expected to be demolished to make way for the scheme.

‘Co-living’ describes a sharing of communal facilities between several private homes and was pioneered in Denmark during the 1960s. It is understood to bring social, practical, economic and environmental benefits, including reducing the amount of space needed for each private home.

The latest project aims to deliver a series of low-rent co-living micro-studios, where smart phone apps allow residents to manage their shared spaces. 

The client surveyed interested occupiers during the competition and integrated their requirements for space and design into the judging and selection process.

The shortlisted teams received £3,000 each to develop designs. Duggan Morris will now receive £40,000 to develop the scheme further.

Competition judges included architect Hugh Broughton, Takero Shimazaki of t-sa Architects, planning consultant Matthew Johnson and client representatives.

Broughton, who was RIBA adviser for the competition, said: ‘Co-Living provides an innovative way to create homes, which are affordable and promote a strong sense of community. The brief has yielded some truly imaginative designs from all the competitors, which are also sensitive to their urban setting.

’Faced with so many great ideas, choosing a winner has been a truly challenging task. In the end the scheme produced by Duggan Morris was selected for its flexibility, durability and the quality of the communal environment, designed around a spacious and well-proportioned central courtyard.

‘They showed great commitment to the cause of co-living and obvious drive for realising this exciting project, and the jury recognised that these are attributes which will be essential in the next stage of its delivery.’

The longlist

Al-Jawad Pike
AOC Architecture
Architype (shortlisted)
Delvendahl Martin Architects (shortlisted)
Duggan Morris Architects (winner)
Henley Halebrown
Knox Bhavan Architects (shortlisted)
Surman Weston
Threefold Architects
vPPR Architects (shortlisted)

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Mr Pevsner

    AJ - why not show more visual material? I'm sure DM gave you some nice plans and sections to describe their proposals? How hard is to load a couple of pdfs to illustrate the piece?

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