The mixed-use scheme in east London hopes to answer some questions on the future of living with industry
Located on a former industrial site in Canning Town, the scheme combines 336 homes with light industrial spaces below, designed to attract businesses in need of affordable workspace.
Architecturally the scheme has been divided into three layers: the workspaces at ground level are clad with weathered steel, the apartments above are brick and the four taller structures are topped by metal-clad units with a scalloped roofline.
Hoy Street, which runs through the site, has been reinstated as a ‘pedestrian first’ working alley lined with workshops and commercial units.
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In London, over the last decade or so, many of the small industries that are essential to keeping the capital going have been pushed out. Car repairers and breakers, brewers, bakers and coffee roasters, specialist trade suppliers for plumbers and electricians, steel fabricators and other manufacturers – all are having to leave the capital because the land they occupy is wanted for housing. In the Greater London area, almost 604 hectares of industrial land has been lost in the last decade, with the result that there is now a shortage of affordable business space and less space for workshops and artists’ studios. The recently published draft London Plan has ignited debate about how industry should be integrated with the city. By supporting intensified use of London’s industrial areas, it offers an opportunity to create new identities for very large, previously hidden areas of London dominated by low density, monocultural industrial use.
Traditionally, industrial uses were pepper-potted across the city, mixing and merging with homes, shops, leisure and other types of workplaces, creating a diverse and intricate urban composition. Over the course of time, larger areas of Strategic Industrial Land (SIL) and Locally Significant Industrial Sites (LSIL) have been increasingly separated and concentrated in four key areas of the city: the Thames Gateway, Lea Valley, Wandle Valley and Park Royal/A40/Heathrow.
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Along with London’s continued population growth and demand for land, there is a pressure to increase the density of underdeveloped sites. Industrial land, with its often large surface areas and single-storey buildings, has disproportionally suffered the consequences of this pressure. Previously committed industrial land has been released for other uses at a far greater rate than anticipated, creating a low supply of industrial land. This could have serious implications.
Caxton Works adopts a placemaking-driven approach to improve the quality of industrial land. Being an industrial worker in London should be a positive choice and a positive experience that enhances working life. Therefore industrial land should be more than a forgotten strip of land hidden by the railway.
The architectural approach has ensured that the high-quality residential homes are not undermined by the noise and impact from nearby major roads, with the active industry ground-floor use resolving the transition from the busy highway to residential quarter.
Start on site February 2014
Completion February 2018
Gross internal floor area 28,821m² (includes 2,390m² of industrial)
Form of contract or procurement route Management consulting
Architect Studio Egret West
Executive architect The Tooley & Foster Partnership
Client Commercial Developer: U+I plc Housing Developer: Galliard Homes
Structural engineer PEP Civil and Structural
M&E consultant MTT
Quantity surveyor/cost consultant PH Warr
Agent CF Commercial and Cherryman
Planning consultant NTR Planning
Acoustic consultant MTT
Transport consultant Royal Haskoning
Sunlight and daylight consultant GL Hearn
Accessibility consultant Buro Happold
Commercial facade shutters Hunter Douglas Architectural
Commercial facade cladding Facade Concepts
Project manager Cardoe Martin
CDM coordinator Galliard Homes
Main contractor Galliard Homes
CAD software used AECOSim (Microstation), AutoCAD and Revit