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RCKa wins planning for Lewisham Pocket homes conversion

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RCKa has won planning for an affordable housing scheme for micro-housing specialist Pocket Living

The £4 million scheme will convert and extend an existing 1920s industrial warehouse to provide 44 new compact one-bedroom apartments.

The 2,788m² development includes a two-storey rooftop extension and a new circulation and entrance core.

The building’s façade design features ‘wave-profiled’ polycarbonate cladding, which according to the practice ‘identifies the building’s new lease of life as a place to live’.

Russ Edwards, design director, Pocket, said:‘RCKa’s design proposal for Arklow Road SE14 in Lewisham is an important project within our growing portfolio. Not only does it regenerate a handsome piece of historic urban fabric, repurposing it for starter homes that will serve Lewisham’s first time buyer market, but it also provides an important catalyst for the broader regeneration of this part of New Cross.

‘RCKa’s design strategies seek to exploit the inherent qualities that exist within the historic building – generous floor to ceiling heights and openings, robust materiality, and great aspect - whilst establishing an unapologetically contemporary architectural expression through the careful placement of new elements and layers.’

Work is set to begin on the project later this year and it is expected to complete in early 2017.

The architect’s view

A 15m high entrance courtyard open to the sky is concealed behind solid street-facing entrance gates and provides a dramatic arrival into the building. Framed stair landings at the end of wide corridors look down directly into this space, increasing connections across floors. A lift lands directly into the generously spaced lobby without the need for costly and divisive fire separation screens. A residents’ lounge in the lobby celebrates the industrial character of the original building and helps foster a sense of community, as well as providing direct access to a landscaped rear garden four times larger than required under planning policy.

On the main streetside elevation solid wave-profiled cladding is evident as a distinct contemporary layer that extends behind, above and to one side of the heavy masonry and stucco of the original industrial building. The curtain-like cladding’s scale, tone and form are domestic in nature, which together with more human-scaled window openings identifies the building’s new lease of life as a place to live.

Setting the new high-performance envelope back into the plan resolves complex technical issues and enables the removal of inelegant uPVC windows. Original openings are left unglazed, celebrating the simplicity of the original building and restoring sightlines. Facing the railway, the building’s west elevation will be clad in a large-format wave-profiled transparent Polycarbonate, featuring a triple-wall wave-profiled sheet to refract light and bring the elevation to life when viewed from a passing train. This cladding extends upwards to create a further two floors of accommodation that will enjoy expansive views across the city.

RCKa Arklow Road Pocket Homes

Project data

Location Lewisham, South London
Type of project affordable housing
Architect RCKa
Client Pocket Living
Structural engineer Conisbee
Services engineer Mendick Waring
Quantity surveyor Tower8
Site area 1,071m²
Gross internal area 2,788m²
Cost £4 million

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