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Peabody picks Haworth Tompkins for £150m Islington scheme  

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Stirling Prize-winner Haworth Tompkins has been appointed to design a 400-home housing scheme on the site of a former medical campus in north London

The scheme is the first to be handed out by Peabody to one of the big-name practices selected for its major projects panel in July this year (Revealed: Peabody names new major projects panel).

The progressive housing association snapped up the Archway Campus site, at the foot of Highgate Hill, from University College London and Middlesex University in March.

Peabody said the design process was at an early stage, and that plans would be developed in conjunction with local residents starting with a series of community consultation events planned for early 2015.

Some of the site’s Victorian Gothic buildings are expected to be retained within the new £100million scheme.

Haworth Tompkins has previously worked with Peabody on a 55-home extension to the housing association’s Peabody Avenue in Pimlico, and on its 112-home Silchester Gardens development in north Kensington, known as ‘More West’.

Director Graham Haworth said said the Archway project had been won through Peabody’s major projects framework.

‘It was a light-touch submission of two A1 boards, followed by a formal interview for the panel selection, then a further presentation,’ he said.

‘The competition was all about selecting a designer rather than a design and is ideal for both parties … it  also  prevents  the  architect  from  spending  too  long developing proposals in detail  and encourages a focus on the general principles and key issues.’

More West

Haworth Tompkins’ More West development in north Kensington

Haworth added that a large number of the residential units would need to be fitted into Henry Saxon Snell’s existing buildings, which are a local landmark and which he said would provide a ‘unique setting’ for the scheme.

He added: ‘The fact that the scheme is one of the few that has the capacity to actually deliver a critical mass of much needed affordable housing to Archway, along with genuine community facilities, is also a unique characteristic of this particular site.’

Peabody’s executive director for development and sales, Jeremy Stibbe, said the housing association was ‘really excited’ about the Archway scheme’s potential and ‘delighted’ to have appointed Haworth Tompkins.

Haworth Tompkins is also working with Pitman Tozer on a Peabody scheme to build 550 homes at Fish Island in Bow, close to the Olympic Park.

The development is earmarked for delivery by March 2018.

Fish Island

Drawing for Peabody’s Fish Island development in East London

An interview with Graham Haworth of Haworth Tomkins

Explain how you landed the project?
The competition was run as part of the selection process for Peabody’s major projects framework; it was a light touch submission of two A1 boards, followed by a formal interview for the panel selection, then a further presentation and interview specifically on the Archway project.

The contest was all about selecting a designer rather than a design

The competition was all about selecting a designer rather than a design and is ideal for both parties; it allows the Client to select an architect to work with and explore the design concepts collaboratively, rather than being presented with a firm proposal at a stage which is clearly to early to know what the right solution is, particularly if the designs are to evolve through a process of public consultation. It also prevents the architect from spending too long developing proposals in detail and encourages a focus on the general principles and key issues that need to be addressed in the overall design and consultation strategy.

You are known for your cultural schemes – how much housing have you done?
The cultural work is certainly the noisier sibling, and has always received the most media attention, but actually we have always worked steadily on housing and on average it makes up around 40 per cent of our annual fee income. We think our varied portfolio of work gives us a unique insight into housing design and the work we do in the cultural sector informs our thinking on housing design, allowing us to come up with diverse multi layered solutions for placemaking.

Our first housing project was the Iroko Housing for Coin Street on London’s South Bank, which we won in competition in 1991, about the same time as we were selected as architect for the Royal Court Theatre, so the future trajectory of housing and cultural projects started there.

The cultural work is certainly the noisier sibling

After Coin Street we won two competitions for Southwark as part of the early housing schemes for the Elephant & Castle regeneration, both stalled due to delays in funding but interestingly both are now finally moving forward; one at Stead Street for 62 dwellings has just started on site and the other at Harper Road for around 80 units has just re-surfaced as a joint venture between the Corporation of Trinity House, Galliard and Acorn Properties, to create a residential extension to the historic Trinity Village, which we are aiming to submit for planning in March next year.

In 2011 we completed a project for Peabody at Peabody Avenue in Pimlico (images provided); the scheme was for 55 homes and formed an extension to the striking 200 meter long Peabody Avenue was built by Peabody in the 1870s and is now a designated Conservation Area.  We are also on site with another large 112 unit residential scheme for Peabody over in Latimer Road west London, the first phase of which is which is due for completion in April 2015, followed by the second phase in November 2015.

Most of large mixed–use commercial schemes we have been involved in, such as Liverpool One for Grosvenor, have a housing component, and we are in the process of completing a large mixed-use residential scheme for French developer Bouygues and Newham in Canning Town, which will be completed in March next year, creating a 179 new homes as part of Hallsville Quarter the first phase of a major new regeneration project in Canning Town, masterplanned by AECOM.

We designed one of the residential blocks at the Athletes Village for the Olympics and have just started on site at Chobham Manor with a large building for Taylor Wimpey and LDDC in the form of mansion block and mews, creating 88 new dwellings, on a great site right opposite the Velodrome. In North London we are about to submit proposals for planning permission on the early renewal housing of Hammerson’s Brent X redevelopment.

How do projects for Peabody differ to other housing schemes you’ve worked on?
Peabody are an exceptional client, as their starting point by definition, is always the provision of affordable housing so in that sense they are close to our housing roots in Coin Street, which was 100 per cent affordable.. As a registered provider they are there for the long game and they have clearly set out their new vision for social housing communities to make London ‘a city of opportunity for all by ensuring as many people as possible have a good home, a real sense of purpose and a strong feeling of belonging’ and they are delivering on this. As a Client in continuous operation since the 1860s, they bring a continuity of professional experience from all their previous schemes and know what is going to work when assessing our initial architectural proposals especially in unit mix access and communal facilities; they are very hands on so the work with them feels more like a collaboration than a traditional commission.

 

Are there any elements of the Archway scheme which you think are unique – or particular to this scheme?
A large number of the residential units will need to be fitted into Henry Saxon Snell’s existing Victorian Gothic Building, which are a local landmark and will provide a unique setting for the scheme. The fact that the scheme is one of the few that has the capacity to actually deliver a critical mass of much needed affordable housing to Archway, along with genuine community facilities is also a unique characteristic of this particular site.

Have you begun community consultation yet on the Archway project?
Peabody has already done quite a lot of work with local groups, and we are in the process of mapping out a timetable for further consultation in the New Year. The main challenges will be respecting the existing context of the site; ensuring a good mix of the new and the old, ensuring that high quality community facilities are provided in the development, and that the right overall vision for the site is established in dialogue with the local community.

A key challenge is connecting with the right individual and voices

The site has always been slightly landlocked and inward looking but it has the potential to really help regenerate the archway neighbourhood. As with all consultation a key challenge is connecting with the right individual and voices, some of whom who might already represented by local interest groups, but often are not, and to communicate that change and new development can, if handled correctly, bring about positive benefits, and we need to communicate that getting the scale and density right will provide the funding to enable better quality buildings and landscape to be delivered. We have already started an audit of social infrastructure in the neighbourhood and really need the community engagement to ensure we identify and meet local needs correctly.

How are you approaching the Fish Island project?
Our work tries to capture the spirit of the unique and evolving combination of people and places that makes London one of the world’s most vibrant capital cities. Fish Island still contains many of the essential qualities of ‘old London’ - fast disappearing elsewhere under a blanket of homogeneous stock solutions – it is a vibrant area, and a fun and off beat place to live. Its strong identity has been established through its physical separation, the concentration of artist studios and other creative industries as well as the growing number of characterful cafés and bars.

This creative energy is a major influence for our proposals. The proposals will provide the framework and background to support the creative and residential life of the area, through beautifully made buildings and the creation of a dynamic public realm.

Has winning the Stirling Prize added any pressure on you in terms of what you deliver next?
Not really, we’ve always worked slightly in the margins, so being in a mainstream spotlight, whilst new to us, is slightly easier to deal with because we have had enough time in the past as a practice to really develop our thinking and working methods.

We don’t feel pressure to work in a certain way

We don’t feel the pressure to work in a certain way or deliver a certain product to meet an externally enforced expectation; we set our own targets with our clients and if anything we like to think that the Stirling Prize win might actually relieve some of the self imposed pressure and allow us to pursue these targets with more confidence !

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