Up-and-coming developer Pocket has launched a design competition for a £822,500 community centre and nursery in Haringey, north London
Aimed at design-led emerging practices, the contest seeks proposals for a low cost facility which will act as a landmark civic gateway to the firm’s West Green Place development.
Masterplanned by HTA Design with BD Landscape Architects, the low-rise scheme will create a mix of open market and Pocket homes next to Downhills Park.
The existing West Green Playgroup Nursery and Goan Community Centre – which currently occupy the 0.74 hectare site – will be replaced by the new 360m² competition-winning structure.
Pocket head of design Russ Edwards commented: ‘We’re very excited about this opportunity – for Pocket and the architect, it’s an opportunity to get on with a design, within a fantastic masterplan, in a great park setting, includes new public realm and play space, and it’s for real users.
‘This is an opportunity for Pocket to collaborate with the next generation – perhaps offering an emerging practice their first significant commission for a developer client.’
Founded in 2005, the developer specialises in innovative compact-homes aimed at London’s squeezed middle earners.
Source: Image by BD Landscape Architects
The units – which cost 20 per cent less than local equivalents – are only available to first-time buyers who either work or live in the local area with typical purchasers earning around £39,000-a-year.
Pocket currently has 15 live projects and recently received a £21.7 million loan from the Greater London Authority which it is planning to invest in 4,000 homes over the next ten years.
Last year the outfit ran a high-profile ideas contest (AJ 16.01.15) to create a new compact layout for ‘two bedroom-two person’ apartments which are currently omitted from the mayor’s space standards.
Proposals for the West Green Place nursery should include a storytelling area, play space, store room, sleeping room, kitchen and toilets with an external patio measuring at least 200m². A multi-function hall, kitchenette and lift will also be required for the community centre.
Applications from firms which are less than five years old, feature up to ten team members are have turnovers below £1.5 million are ‘strongly encouraged’ by the client which has no formal restrictions on bidders.
Judges include Edwards, HTA partner Ben Derbyshire, Architecture Foundation director Ellis Woodman and Lyn Garner – director of place and sustainability at Haringey Council.
Up to eight shortlisted teams will be invited to participate in the design contest later this summer following an open expressions of interest round.
Participating firms will not be paid for the contest but the winning team will be commissioned to design and deliver the scheme and ‘required to start work imminently after announcement’ – according to the developer.
The deadline for applications is 5pm on 5 July.
How to apply
Visit the competition website for more information
14 Floral Street
Tel: 020 7291 3680
Q&A with Russ Edwards, head of design at Pocket
Russ Edwards Pocket
What is your vision for the community building and nursery within the wider site masterplan?
The whole project is a departure for Pocket – in terms of scale, tenure, and of course the nursery and community building, but it’s an incredible opportunity. The site is more sub-urban than many of our schemes so we see the building as a mechanism to stitch our new homes into the existing neighbourhood – both physically, through placement at the threshold to the site, and metaphorically as it will re-provide a valuable community asset and demonstrate our commitment to the community that already exists.
We’re actually very excited about this opportunity – for Pocket and the architect, it’s an opportunity to get on with a design, within a fantastic masterplan, in a great park setting, includes new public realm and play space, and it’s for real users. Critically, we also want to get on and build it as soon as possible.
Why are you running a competition for this part of the scheme?
There are a number of reasons. Firstly, we see the success of this building as critical in unlocking the potential of the site, so we want to benefit from a range of ideas to ensure that the building and the masterplan are as good as they possibly can be.
Secondly, we’re keen that the masterplan is collaborative. We think a different ‘hand’ for this piece of the jigsaw will be really positive.
Thirdly, we’re always looking to work with other innovators. This is an opportunity for Pocket to collaborate with the next generation – perhaps offering an emerging practice their first significant commission for a developer client.
Lastly, we hope that it will inform our thinking about commissioning practices for smaller projects in future.
What sort of architectural practices are you hoping will participate?
While we’re not necessarily sure how to define it, we want to encourage emerging practices to submit. In essence we want to work with practices that have got something to contribute to London’s debate on the built environment- with this brief being seen as a vehicle to stimulate that debate.
We’re flexible about how we engage them – if they’re unable to meet our requirements in terms of PII, etc, there are other avenues that we can explore – importantly it will not exclude them from consideration.
Ultimately however, it’s a design competition, so we’re looking for a great piece of architecture.
Which other community building and nursery schemes have you been impressed by?
AY Architects recently delivered a great nursery scheme in Camden, which I think captures a lot of what we would like to achieve on our project, but in truth, the kinds of projects that spring to mind are less specifically community or nursery projects, but more those schemes that exceed expectations within really tight budgetary constraints – because that’s what we need to do here!
I’m a little biased, but I really like dRMM’s Hastings Pier regeneration – I know from my time at the practice that the budget was challenging, and that it was a marathon of consultation and engagement, so I think the delivered scheme is a fantastic achievement. Also in Hastings, I think HAT Projects Jerwood Gallery is a very clever building that has a great sense of modesty about it, whilst actually providing a very polished piece of ‘civic’ quality architecture.