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All change for Brixton with Proctor Matthews

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Proctor Matthews has won planning permission for a £5 million transport interchange linking Brixton's underground and rail stations - one of the first UK examples of the new wave of highdensity mixed-use developments with zero car parking on a transport node.

The triangular site is located in Brixton's conservation area, and is extraordinarily complex. Two railway viaducts scythe across its northern edge, one carrying Eurostar and other Waterloo-bound trains, the other feeding Victoria Station. To the south, the project is overlooked by Electric Mansions, the key building in the conservation area. Brixton Underground Station is directly underneath with a vent shaft projecting into the site.

The basic form is a faceted cylinder which tapers upward to a high point of nine storeys next to the railway lines, and down to three storeys where it addresses Electric Mansions. The inside of the cylinder has been carved out to create a colourful open air circus giving an inward focus to a building surrounded by railway viaducts, station platforms, busy streets, markets and existing dwellings.

The circus is overlooked by the 48 apartments, a quarter of which are affordable housing, and is enclosed at ground level by a band of retail and restaurants which encourage pedestrians to pause between Electric Lane and Atlantic Road. Space Syntax Laboratory from University College, London, advised the design team on the configuration of this important space, with permeability and pedestrian safety as the main priorities.The faceted form of the cylindrical building will be expressed in the external facade, which will have coloured projecting 'blinkers' to avoid direct views into hallways and kitchens from moving trains and to animate the view of the building from trains approaching central London from the south.The striking shape of the building will be accentuated by green and grey chequer-board cladding of pre-patinated copper and powder-coated metal.

Construction is expected to begin in 2002 when part of the site is due to be released by London Underground following completion of work to Brixton Station.Waterman Partnership is the structural engineer, FHP is the services engineer, Murdoch Green is the quantity surveyor and Gordon Ingram is the daylighting consultant. The development is being undertaken in conjunction with the London Borough of Lambeth, advised by Nelson Bakewell, who assembled the site. The project has the backing of English Heritage, which was closely involved with the evolution of the design, and was developed in response to extensive public consultation.

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