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FIRST LOOK

Pitman Tozer places communal deck access at heart of mixed-use Hackney Wick scheme

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The 71-home scheme in Tower Hamlets, developed jointly by Peabody and Hill, includes a central courtyard and sculptural stair

The Monier Road development comprises apartments and maisonettes as well as ground-floor commercial space. Ten of the homes are offered at affordable rent and five for shared ownership through Peabody, with the rest for private sale. 

The three blocks of the scheme are designed to each have their own identity and palette of materials, with a mix of one, two and three-bedroom units. They are all arranged around the central courtyard which provides both shared amenity space and gardens for family units. Gallery access is designed to help maximise units with dual aspect. 

Monier Road is part of the £125 million Fish Island Village development south of Hackney Wick, a joint venture between housing association Peabody and housebuilder Hill, masterplanned by Haworth Tompkins and intended to create a new live-work neighbourhood. This scheme forms one element in an ensemble of new buildings together with other blocks designed by Haworth Tompkins and Lyndon Goode Architects.

Monierroad nickkane 05

Monierroad nickkane 05

Architect’s view

The communal circulation at Ardens, Monier Road, is a reinterpretation of traditional deck access and provides external circulation to individual front doors.

Residents pass through a lobby to collect their mail and then emerge, under cover but outside, in order to take the lift or stair to get home. The curved deck has bent the linear circulation into a ‘U’ shape, with nine flats per floor. With the way the central lift and stair are laid out, people will pass a maximum of two other flat doors before reaching theirs.

The distance between opposite sides of 11m is sufficiently close to be able to easily pass the time of day when coming and going. The black solid metal balustrading that characterises the space is part of the fire-engineered solution and prevents smoke compromising the means of escape.

Monierroad nickkane 03

Monierroad nickkane 03

The children’s play area is part of the first-floor podium, above the cycle parking, and has planting to buffer the area from adjoining homes.

The stairs protrude into the space and wind around a central concrete spine wall. The base of the stair has a cut-out to give a sight line from entry of anyone climbing or descending, and the top is lit from glass blocks set into the canopy.

The communal life of the block can be enjoyed by the residents as they come and go. Residents have remarked how social the block is and how they have got to know their neighbours simply by getting to their front doors.

External stairs and deck access are nothing new. Peabody has many earlier buildings using this type of circulation that are still going strong. Monier Road’s circulation is another development within this long-standing tradition.

Luke Tozer, director, Pitman Tozer Architects

Detail circulation

Detail circulation

Project data

Start on site Feb 2017
Completion July 2018
Gross internal floor area 7,020m²
Form of contract Management contract
Construction cost £15.4 million
Construction cost per m² £2,194
Architect Pitman Tozer Architects
Client Peabody and Hill
Structural engineer MLM
M&E consultant MLM
QS Hunters
Landscape consultant Farrer Huxley Associates (design stage); Place Design and Planning (post-contract) 
CDM coordinator Hunters
Approved building inspector MLM
Main contractor Hill
CAD software used AutoCAD

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