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Britain's best residential architects pick their favourite housing schemes

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Part one: Peter Barber, Tony Fretton, Paul Karakusevic, Stephen Taylor and Alex Ely pick their favourite housing projects in the UK

Stephen Taylor, director, Stephen Taylor Architects, recommends:


Anne Mews, Barking, London by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and Maccreanor Lavington

We take a great interest in housing that has a concern for place making and that shows consideration for the public spaces that it defines. One such project is the affordable housing scheme at Anne Mews by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and Maccreanor Lavington, which forms a part of Barking’s King William Street Quarter masterplan.

There is a collective effort by the two architects to return to the traditional idea of small scale streets serving as a shared public realm inhabited by residents that also gives back to the civic life of the city.

Peter Barber, director, Peter Barber Architects, recommends:


‘Verde’, Shoreham, Sussex by Hamish McKenzie

I’m fond of the idea that, when a building is finished, it isn’t finished. Look at the 30 or so houseboats at Shoreham in Sussex: settled in the estuary mud, homes and landscape in a state of gentle transformation. An architecture of make do and mend inventiveness, provisional and homespun… house as process, house as dream, house as artwork, house as life and as lifetime project. For me it is the best of all suburbias.

And so here a converted World War II minesweeper, there a hobbity half-timbered shack on floats, another all sheds and flowers, and my favourite, Hamish McKenzie’s ‘Verde’, a 1960s coach split down the middle, the roof filled in with a discarded aeroplane wing and then grafted onto the hull of a derelict passenger ferry.

I like this housing very much, but I also like its antithesis in planned streets and squares of urban housing in Brighton, Barceloneta and Belgravia or, more recently, Siza’s ‘Evora’, Aires Mateus’ old people’s housing and, closer to home, our own Donnybrook Quarter.

Tony Fretton, principal, Tony Fretton Architects, recommends:


Church Walk, Stoke Newington, London by David Mikhail Architects and Annalie Riches

A lack of foresight in London has produced the ongoing catastrophe of housing in Docklands and has confined good architecture to piecemeal sites. On just such a site in Church Walk, Stoke Newington, David Mikhail Architects and Annalie Riches have produced a very fine group of dwellings, with interiors that are both beautiful and habitable, and facades that bring vitality to the neighbourhood.

The UK has an abundance of designers with their talent and inventiveness. With a properly structured, long-term approach to housing, they could help UK cities become exceptional.

Paul Karakusevic, director, Karakusevic Carson, recommends:


Armour Close, London, by Islington Council architects

I like the scheme in Armour Close, London N7, by Islington Council. It is a series of four houses on a wasted space site, providing new homes for the council on a very low budget. They are simple, elegant house types with double-height space and a ground floor layout that makes the most of a very constrained site. The enclosed side garden works well with all the key rooms overlooking the space.

Although not normally a fan of white render, I can see the benefits in this project in helping to ensure well-lit internal and external spaces. It is also great to see a local authority take the lead on building homes rather than selling the land to private developers who then take the profit and return little social benefit.

Alex Ely, director, Mae Architects, recommends:


Essex Mews, Rockmount Road, London by MW Architects

Three new houses by MW Architects for Solid Space Developments in Crystal Palace. The scheme develops the Solid Space house typology to work on a difficult sloping site by adopting a split section that maximises floor area and creates interconnecting volumes of space. The architecture uses the topography of the site to give an impression of small mews houses but with generous, contemporary spaces inside.

Internally, the three main living spaces all connect to a double-height volume, giving each space individual definition yet spatial connection and plenty of natural light. The vertical circulation makes the transition into the smaller private spaces for sleeping.

Tom Kyle, architect, Sheppard Robson, recommends:


BedZED, Hackbridge, London by Bill Dunster

BedZED was built in 2002, so it is now over 10 years old. It was a pioneering sustainable housing project, and many of the innovative design features are now current good practice. The team behind it took a holistic approach to sustainability, as they didn’t just focus on energy in use; they responsibly sourced the materials and encouraged sustainable lifestyles.

As a result, it has created a very strong community. It didn’t get everything right, but those who live and work there (of which I was one) find it an inspiring and uplifting place.

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  • A complete set of my images of Anne Mews, Barking, London by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and Maccreanor Lavington can be found here http://timothysoararchive.co.uk/project/skill/ahmm complete with the appropriate copyright attribution. Timothy Soar

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