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AJ Architecture Awards 2018: Editor’s Choice

209 Mark Hadden  2

Karakusevic Carson Architects and Henley Halebrown have been given the Editor’s Choice award for Kings Crescent Estate Phases 1 & 2, Hackney

This is truly an outstanding project on many fronts. It excels not just in terms of the generosity of the living space it provides and the thoughtful detailing of its architecture; nor indeed simply on account of the quality public realm it creates and its clever retread and integration of existing blocks. 

It stands out as a significant piece of architecture because it provides a model for how estate regeneration can work for residents when they are involved at every stage of the design and become collaborators with an exceptionally engaged local authority client and an inspired architectural team. A steering group of local residents was involved throughout the design from the layout of the site plan to the internal specification of homes.

209 tim crocker 04

209 tim crocker 04

Source: Tim Crocker

The project sits at the edge of Clissold Park in the London Borough of Hackney and is part of the first wave of new build social rent housing by the borough for more than 30 years.

The completed elements are Phases 1 and 2 of a larger masterplan and consist of 273 new and 101 refurbished units, with mixed tenure of 41 per cent for social rent and 10 per cent intermediate. The blocks are well-made materially and spatially, with decent common parts and well thought-out detailing. The units are tenure-blind in their design.  

By introducing new mid-rise buildings and refurbishing existing stock with small transformative moves, the project creates a framework for the integration of new and existing communities. 

209 jim stephenson 05 mr

209 jim stephenson 05 mr

Source: Jim Stephenson

With the existing blocks, modest interventions, such as enclosure of balconies to create winter gardens (reminiscent of Lacaton + Vassal’s work in Paris), break down the scale of the elevations. Removal of upstands unlocks precious interior space. Disused garages have been cleverly transformed into pocket flats, animating the street frontage. This layout sensitively weaves the new blocks together with the existing, creating new permeable outdoor spaces and courtyards which are well connected to the surrounding streets.

The project was applauded by the AJ Architecture Awards jury for demonstrating an ‘holistic approach that is socially and spatially innovative’. Showing what is possible within a budget, Kings Crescent Estate stands as an exemplar in high density, mid-rise housing. ‘This is housing with character and without compromise. This is what all councils should be aiming for,’ is how the jury summed it up. The scheme sets a laudably high bar for estate regeneration and more widespread adoption of this approach could positively impact London’s housing crisis.

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