nla news

Annual Don't Move, Improve! public day welcomes hundreds of homeowners - 25/1/2015

Agnese SanvitoOn Saturday 24 January, NLA welcomed over 400 people to partake in a day of free consultations and talks for practical advice and information on creating better living spaces.

Some 18 shortlisted practices took part, giving a range of expert advice via free one-to-one consultations throughout the day. Architects, interior designers, structural engineers and party wall surveyors were all involved, giving members of the public the chance to discuss their project at any stage - whether well underway with a home extension or simply wanting some advice on where to start.

Practices involved included: Bradley Van Der Straeten Architects, Chance de Silva, DE ROSEE SA, Emrys Architects, Gort Scott, Gundry Ducker, Hopps Partnership, HÛT, Kirkwood McCarthy, Lipton Plant Architects, MTA, MUSTARD Architects, MW Architects, Space Group Architects, Stiff + Trevillion, Symmetrys, Tessuto, Zminkowska De Boise Architects  

These series of consultations were also supplemented by two lunchtime talks, offering practical advice and design inspiration. Speaking with the client of his shortlisted project, Ewald van der Straeten stressed "the value of the home improvements is in the quality of the space, not the quantity" while all speakers emphasised the pivotal importance of communication through the project.   

Speakers included: Chris Atkins, Managing Director, Symmetrys; client Julian Wilkins and architect Ewald van der Straeten from Bradley Van Der Straten Architects; Daniel Hopwood, BIID President, interior designer and co-presenter of The Great Interior Design Challenge; Luke Tozer, Director, Pitman Tozer; and Daniel Campbell, Director, Stiff + Trevillion.  

A series of one-to-one free style consultations were also held at Heal’s at Tottenham Court Road, giving advice on how to create a dream home interior. To see more pictures of the day, please click here.

In association with British Institute of Interior Design (BIID), Heal's and RIBA London, the day formed part of the Don't Move, Improve! competition which seeks to find London's best new home extensions and interior design projects that deliver more space to live.  

An exhibition of the 44 inspirational winning and shortlisted projects will be on show at NLA, The Building Centre until 12 February 2015, and is free to enter. For the first time, the exhibition is accompanied by a magazine detailing all shortlisted and winning projects - on sale at The Building Centre café for £2.
Agnese SanvitoAgnese SanvitoAgnese SanvitoAgnese SanvitoAgnese Sanvito


Devolution Revolution Gathers Pace - 20/1/2015

Tony Travers, LSE  - ©© Agnese Sanvito Panel Discussion  - ©© Agnese Sanvito ©© Agnese Sanvito ©© Agnese Sanvito
Devolution for London edged closer last night as experts declared that they expect all the major political parties to embrace the concept in their upcoming general election manifestoes.

The occasion was the NLA’s first public debate of the year: ‘What would devolution do for London?’ kicked off by Professor Tony Travers, Director, LSE London and Chair of the London Finance Commission. Travers, widely regarded as the man who started the ball rolling on the possibility of London keeping more of the property taxes it raises, said UK is an ‘incredibly centralized democracy’ compared to other countries, even France, which enjoys much greater autonomy. ‘London is an exporter of tax’, he said, and there is ‘undoubtedly a need for a wider tax base’, with property taxes well suited to operation by a London government. If we had full devolution of property taxes, he added, the mayor and boroughs could bring forward development and investments designed to drive up tax yield and pay for rail, road, and other infrastructure. ‘That’s the big incentive’. The redevelopment of Battersea Power Station and Northern Line Extension was a prime example of how this kind of local tax system could work. ‘London needs this kind of freedom to generate the infrastructure required to meet its rapidly rising population’, he said.

Colm Lacey, Director of Development, LB Croydon, said his patch is aiming to convince the Treasury it should be allowed to retain stamp duty - ‘we are asking for the ability to keep what we earn’. Deputy mayor for housing, land and property Richard Blakeway added that he was optimistic for change given that central government has been receptive to devolution and significant reforms around tax and that reforms could both incentivize and prioritise growth. Ben Harrison, Director of Partnerships, Centre for Cities, pointed to Greater Manchester as a good step forward in the devolution process but warned that London must not be held back while we wait for other cities in the UK to get their houses in order.

Undeniably, though, there is a ‘head of steam’ on devolution for London, said Harrison. ‘Each of the parties are going to carry this in their manifesto in some form or another’ he said. ‘If there is another coalition government I would expect to see something in this area form quite an important part of whatever coalition agreement comes out of that’.

David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly 


London’s Town Centres and High Streets - 23/12/2014

Upper Street - Agnese Sanvito
London’s high streets and town centres are fighting back; armed with BIDs, a move to create more residential and mixed use environments, transport improvements and pop-up shops to lure people away from their laptops.

Those were some of the key principles to emerge from a half-day conference at NLA last week, kicked off by British BIDs chief executive Dr Julie Grail. We are, said Grail, in a period of ‘rebalancing’ for the high street, with ‘experiential and eateries’ the prince, and residential the highwayman. But with 200 BIDs now in operation, change has come about in the last two or three years amid a real culture shift. ‘There’s a huge customer expectation now in town centres’ said Grail. ‘We now expect to see places branded’.

GLA senior project officer on regeneration Adam Towle said that London’s 600 high streets are a ‘vast phenomenon’, and if they were placed end to end they would stretch 500km, from Store Street to the Scottish border. They are also a considerable employer, home to 1.5 million jobs – 35% of all jobs in the capital – and ½ of London’s developable land lies within 200m of a high street. The GLA is funding and helping deliver physical projects, from pocket parks to 580 shop fronts, which will be improved, aided by the mayor’s high street fund.

Certainly, according to research conducted by GL Hearn, there has been a focus on retail planning applications in central London, with all but seven boroughs seeing major application growth, said its development planning director Ben Wrighton. But London has been systematically under producing the levels of housing it needs to sustain it as a city, said Kevin Logan of Maccreanor Lavington, whose founding partner Richard outlined the Leegate scheme the practice is working on in Lea Green, Lewisham, for St Modwen, mixing small high street retail, a supermarket and mansion blocks around its edge.

Local authorities have a curatorial role in creating vibrant town centres, said Guy Nicholson, cabinet member for regeneration in Hackney, involving retail alongside other sectors such as manufacturing, while the DCLG’s Miranda Pearce said the two years since neighbourhood planning powers came in had resulted in over 1200 areas designated, and 30 plans now in place. ‘Neighbourhood planning is about business and communities working together’, she said.

Make Architects’ John Prevc outlined the work the Future Spaces Foundation has done, including a recognition that we need to reconcentrate public services in and around the high street, high streets should be mobile-enabled and have multi-channel approaches to retail and there should be a flexible use of space mixing retail, leisure and work. ‘Retail is a symptom of a rejuvenated high street, rather than the solution itself’, he said.

Transport also has a key place to play in this scenario, not least because Transport for London intends to capitalise on the 4.5 million journeys made on the London underground every day. ‘If you understand who uses the station and what they want, why not give it to them in the most convenient format’, said Graeme Craid, TfL’s director of commercial development. ‘We should be thinking about the role of the station given the numbers we have got’.

At places like Old Street station, a number of pop-up shops have emerged as a result of the work of Appear Here – meanwhile consultants who act like an Airbnb for the retail trade, said founder and CEO Ross Bailey. Somewhere along the line, retail got lost when it became all about the transaction, said Bailey, and yet 80% of people buying an Apple product, for example, have an in-store interaction. The work at Old Street has generated media interest from magazines such as Monocle and Harpers, but also an 80-90% rent increase. ‘Today, people want to be able to curate their own lives’, said Bailey, ‘We want to help you curate moments’.

-       David Taylor, Editor, NLQ          


How could 3D city modelling improve planning in London? - 17/12/2014

Eric Fischer
How could 3D city modelling improve planning in London?
That was the question posed to a group of eminent practitioners in design, planning and 3D simulation techniques, brought together by NLA as part of the Smarter London series.

Andy Hudson Smith, director at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London said after leading the world in this kind of technology our position had waned, but it was now time for a free, open, 3D map of London which the mayor’s office and local councils – perhaps even the public – could use. But one of the questions was over quite who would pay for it. ‘The world is not flat and we should not be communicating it in a flat way’, he said. Technology and software has also moved on dramatically. ‘We can build Rome in a day’, he said. Models can also be enhanced with urban modelling data such as land prices, air pollution, urban flows on Oyster Card, or even social network feeds, using software aimed at the games sector. ‘I think there is a need to share and put it online in an open source manner. It should be about how we begin to join it all up.’

GMJ’s Didier Madoc-Jones said his firm first accurately aligned 3D data into real world imagery in 1994 and that they created their own surveyed 3D model of Central London in 2004 as they have to use models which have a ‘finesse’ that is extremely accurate for planning applications.

Since then the visualisation industry in London has been providing a 3D view of sites in a world-leading way as a response to the complexity of view controls laid across the capital.

He suggested the planning system is too reactive and it be helpful to provide the GLA and other planning authorities with more 3D planning data and associated 3D tools to enhance design-led planning advice wherever possible.

Miller Hare’s John Hare questioned whether there will ever be a single model, but this was more about agreeing some simple ground rules. We are all ‘fantastically enabled’ in the UK, he said, because we trust the lingua franca of the OS data, and we can agree on terminology of detail, although the slippery concept was around accuracy. ‘It will never be a single model. It will just be a data flow.’ A commercial company, Zmapping, has lowered the cost of the data to an affordable level – Miller Hare has around 100km2 under licence and pays around £40,000 a year for that.

Rollo Home, Senior Product Manager, Detailed Content & 3D, Ordnance Survey, said that things had changed dramatically since his firm’s early brushes in this area and that any local authority can now access building height data to enable a block view. Today, OS sees its role not in producing visualization or high-end geometry extraction. ‘It’s in providing that consistent reference framework that allows people to operate in 3D’, said Home. BIM drivers and smart city applications in particular will require a level of analysis which will require this kind of level of data.

Ryder’s Peter Buchan set up the BIM Academy as an independent research and consultancy organization, largely because of a frustration about the difficulty of getting integrated modeling. The key thing is agreeing what the base data should be, he said.

So how might data from 3D modelling be used to improve the planning and coordination of key projects? For Colin Wilson of the GLA the authority started ‘active planning, rather than reactive’ in 2008 through Zmapping around Vauxhall Nine Elms, which was attractive because the affordable plug-in software could enable his team to use the modelling, and in public exhibitions. ‘We’ve taken that out to the boroughs and said: ‘You can do this as well as we can because it is not complicated. The take-up on that has been very mixed’’. The technology has improved to such an extent that a GLA colleague created an app for the Euston area, he added. ‘The brilliant thing we have in London, said John Hare, ‘is all the stuff that has been unleashed by releasing real time TfL data.’ This has pushed forward all sorts of applications: ‘If we can agree a very base level, a coordinate system, a unit system, a very simple naming system, and a list of parameters that we can all use, then we are all up and running.’

Westminster is looking at 3D modelling in a proactive approach as part of its growth agenda on key streets including Edgware Road, Oxford Street Tottenham Court Road and others, said John Walker, Operational Director – Development Planning at Westminster Council. This is a double-edged sword, as sometimes prices are raised when owners see such potential. Accuracy is also important, but the vast majority of applications Westminster receives are not for ‘Shards’, said Walker, but for an extra floor here, an extension there. ‘That’s how the vast majority of London is growing’, he said. ‘A proper 3D model has to capture all of that’. Neither should we get carried away with aerial projections or fairground rides. ‘What is crucial for us is the ground floor view’, especially in such a historic area…It is inevitable that 3D modelling is going to become part of the decision-making process. But it can only do that if it is accurate’, and requires needs a one-size fits all planning portal, especially when most applications are submitted by small practices – some of whom still submit drawings on ‘linen’. ‘It is about having a common language, so we become technology independent’, said Rollo, ‘and we’re not confined to a particular software type’.

Other cities offer examples, including Seattle, where Parsons Brinckerhoff has been working on a model since 2008, mainly to help remodel the waterfront area of the city. This was primarily an engineering tool, said Rupert Green, with embedded functionality to test various transport plans. But it has been built upon with increasing layers of functionality and has been used as a ‘shopfront’ to help sell development plots. It has also even been used to test for natural disasters, even an offshore earthquake, which led to the reconfiguring of a raised, double-stacked highway – ‘a disaster waiting to happen’ – into a tunnel. It is thus a good example of a multi-layered engineering model with interdependencies between different parameters including transport, energy, and structures. Over time that model grows, and that type of work is beginning in London with the work that TfL are doing. ‘The learning from overseas is very much understanding what level of detail you need, and understanding the applications that this model is going to be used for’, said Green. Certainly, models help when it comes to consultations and getting developments across to the public. ‘Whenever the GLA does consultations, said Wilson, ‘If there is a 3d model in it we always get a lot more responses. If it is just plans, most people think ‘what has this got to do with me?’ Just simple 3D visuals are terribly powerful as a way to engage.’ Models can also help when it comes to determining the aggregate impact on the road or power network, added Green, allowing users to understand the ‘headroom’ users might have, and avoiding overspecifying.

Finally, GL Hearn’s Shaun Andrews said that 3D modeling has a ‘huge part to play in re-energising the planning system’ but was of questionable use in the vast majority of applications, and the accuracy required changes from strategic to the domestic situation. The frustrations Andrews finds at the moment are at the choice and procurement of different types of modelling, and the expense involved in visualizing projects.

If we enable data to be dynamic and shared then we will be able to see its impact on the immediate neighbourhood as well as the broader context at city scale, said Alan Shingler of Sheppard Robson. Dr Kril Stanilov of CSIC agreed, said as we enter a ‘new era of urbanization globally’, will see cities become more complex, dense, and mixed use. ‘From that point of view I think 3D models will be indispensible in the future’.

- David Taylor, Editor, NLQ          


Midtown – on the rise, key opportunities in the heart of the capital - 15/12/2014

Timothy Soar
Midtown is preparing for a step-change in its popularity that will arrive with Crossrail. But it is already becoming a richer and more varied place for tenants – measured by an influx of new creative occupiers and a new ‘beardwatch’ index.

Those were some of the key points raised in a special NLA conference on Midtown  sponsored by inmidtown and Crossrail – the ‘collection of villages with distinct characteristics’ between the City and West End that includes Bloomsbury, Holborn and St Giles.

The beardwatch feature – a measure of the type of young hipsters who have populated areas such as Shoreditch – is the brainchild of Julian Hind, partner, head of leasing, sales and development at Farebrother. ‘In Midtown we are fundamentally a refurbishment market’, he said, with low availability rates across areas such as WC2, EC1, EC4. But new tenants are moving into the Midtown area such as Skype, Webber Shandwick, Publicis and Saatchi and Saatchi, attracted by new retail, green space, restaurants and bars, world class education facilities, plus the improved public realm and greater accessibility that Crossrail will bring. ‘It is getting quite beardy’, said Hind.

Sir Terry Farrell said that the seven villages that make up Midtown form a ‘very definite area’, but, like many other parts of London, are facing pressure from a growing population. ‘In the last five years London’s population has grown by 500,000 – equivalent to an Edinburgh’, he said. ‘In the next 10 years it will grow by a million – a Birmingham.’ Crossrail will make a huge difference to Midtown and an enormous difference to London, Farrell added. But Midtown needed to dissolve its east-west barriers, define and promote quality routes to key places such as the British Museum, provide a clear and complete pedestrian network, and get rid of the area’s many one way systems.

One of these – Gower Street – will be made two-way for all vehicles, said Alex Williams, director of borough planning at Transport for London, with Tottenham Court Road two-way for buses and cyclists in a project that should be complete by 2018. ‘These projects will build on the success of the area’, said Williams, ‘but you cannot deliver this scale of change without disruption. There will be a bit of pain but I do think the final product is worth it.’ DSDHA partner Deborah Saunt added that her practice was looking at the consequence of the ‘surge’ in people and aiming to ease the ‘palpable fear’ people have of being ‘swamped’ and hoped to avoid creating ‘highly polished spaces that are all quite similar’.

Crossrail’s head of land and property Ian Lindsay said that Crossrail is the first rail project to design stations and over-site improvements as an integrated and complementary package, and indeed will be the catalyst for some £130m of urban realm improvements which will make a ‘very major contribution to Midtown. And with each train able to carry some 1500 passengers, there will be 24 trains an hour from December 2018, with the journey from Farringdon to Canary Wharf dropping to eight minutes and Tottenham Court Road to Heathrow in less than 30. In the City, meanwhile, assistant director (environmental enhancement) said one of its big efforts was in trying to get people from Crossrail to the cultural quarter, including the Barbican, and looking to get back to two-way working at the gyratory end of Holborn.

The conference also heard from James Rowbotham, development manager at Land Securities, who said occupiers from the legal, financial and corporate sectors were ‘drifting over from the City’, while the arrival of firms like Amazon and the ‘game-changer’ of Saatchi showed how traditional West End occupiers were now looking at Midtown, partly because of price but also because of its different offer. ‘It can’t take its eye off the ball or price itself out of the market’, he warned. Julian Robinson, head of estates at the London School of Economics said critical mass had informed Midtown becoming a good place, along with its place ‘close to the centre of things’, while Camden Councils’ Julian Shapiro said that development of the Royal Mail’s sorting office could really transform a dingy and unloved part of Oxford Street. Inmidtown’s chief executive Tass Mavrogordato showed the impact BIDs like hers have had on the area, to the extent of introducing cycle vaults for bike parking under Bloomsbury Square, carbon calculators to monitor air pollution, even working to provide volunteering on schemes such as bee keeping and producing eggs from locally kept chickens. One of the beneficiaries of this last project is Midtown proponent Mishcon de Reya…or Meg Hen the layer, as the firm’s partner Susan Freeman put it.

-       David Taylor, Editor, NLQ  


Londonʼs best new home extensions and interiors announced at NLA - 11/12/2014

Interior Design Winner - House Bloomsbury by Stiff + Trevillion - ©Kilian O'Sullivan
Interior Design Winner - House Bloomsbury by Stiff + Trevillion

Last night, this year’s Don’t Move, Improve! awards winners were announced at a ceremony at NLA, with the overall prizes awarded to Maccreanor Lavington for Ravenswood – a sympathetic timber-framed extension to an end-of-terrace house on a 1960’s estate in Gospel Oak – and to Stiff + Trevillion for the interior design project House Bloomsbury – a characterful mews house with a dated 90’s interior, refreshed through simple, elegant detailing and reworked layout.  

In all, 10 prizes were awarded across two categories, with Second Place presented for Cecilia Road by MW Architects and Rosa & John's Home by Zminkowska De Boise Architects. Third Place was awarded to RAW House by MUSTARD Architects and Islington Penthouse by HUT. Four schemes were also recognised with commendations: The Slate House by Gundry & Ducker received Best Use of Material; Paul Archer Design was presented with Best Use of Glass for Sebastian House; Wallace Road, designed by Appleton Weiner, was awarded Most Cost Effective; and East London House by Mikhail Riches was awarded Best Historic Intervention.  

Please click here further details.  

Supported by the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID), Heal’s and RIBA London


Shaping growth across the South East - 25/11/2014

London needs a new version of the Abercrombie Plan to reap the advantages of the capital within a wider South East but ‘doesn’t stand a chance in hell’ of meeting its housing targets if it doesn’t look beyond its boundaries.

Those were two of the themes to emerge from a special conference co-hosted by NLA, Design South East and Urban Design London last week on shaping growth across the South East.

The man making the claims was Andrew Jones, managing director of design planning and economics at Aecom, who suggested that the London region needed to assess how it will be governed in the future, perhaps through a senate or commission to look after the region’s needs. ‘The boundaries for London aren’t right at the moment’, he said, adding that by 2036 we will probably be a million homes short of our housing needs so could need to reassess Green Belt land as well as instigate a bold New Town programme that designates new ones as well as reexamines existing. ‘I don’t think there’s a hope in hell of London meeting its housing targets within its boundary of London.’

Cllr David Hodge, Deputy Chairman, South East England Councils said that, with some 23.3 million people and rising in the South East, the question was not whether we need new housing but how we can deliver it. Development in the Green Belt should certainly not be ruled out completely, he added. But people also needed more than a roof. ‘What we really need are viable communities, not just identikit boxes which are being built all over the country at the moment’, he said. ‘We want central government to cut the puppeteer strings. Hold us to account. Give us greater control over our own finances.’

For its part, the government is clear that localism is about how the needs of local communities are met, not whether they are met, said Emma Fraser, deputy director - housing growth, Department for Communities and Local Government. The DCLG strongly supports joint plans and local authorities and public bodies have a duty to cooperate ‘constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis’. Government was also committed to addressing the barriers blocking housing sites, Fraser added, and is to publish a prospectus on New Towns next. Areas like Ebbsfleet can build on a history of cooperation in providing some 15,000 new homes via a UDC that will bring funding coordination and expertise. Chairman designate of the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation Michael Cassidy said his organization is engaged in ‘scene setting’, with at least 20 strands of work aimed at getting the most out of the area’s ‘remarkable opportunity.’

Mike Edwards, UCL Teaching Fellow at the Bartlett School of Planning, provided the background on the UK’s ‘sorry history of attempts at regional planning’, with structures being invested, tried and dropped. ‘We have an enormous momentum going in the growth of London and the south east region, and everyone except me thinks that’s perfectly okay.’ Edwards said that this was based on a very inadequate concept of growth that was illusory since it was based on price increases of housing and carried diseconomies of size as they affect things like congestion in transport and other utilities or air quality.

Alexander Jan, Director, Arup detailed some of the London Infrastructure Plan’s stated requirements for the capital by 2050, including 1.5 million more homes – double the rate of building at the moment – a 20% increase in energy supply capacity and 600 more schools and colleges. One of the plan’s key drivers - population growth for sub-national regions was almost at 30 per cent by 2037, with London adding some 2,000 people every eight days. But it was a mistake to think of London and the South East as rivals he said – they are symbiotic, both sides of the same equation.

The conference also heard from Stewart Murray, Assistant Director for Planning, GLA, who posed the question of what sustainable growth might be for London, given the ‘unprecedented’ population rises to a city of 10 million in the 2030s, towards a review of the London Plan that will be published in 2019/20. There were also views from across the wider South East region presented by speakers including Graham Hughes, Executive Director for Economy, Transport and Environment, Cambridgeshire County Council; Jane Custance, Head of Regeneration and Development, Watford Borough Council; and Bev Hindle, Deputy Director Strategy and Infrastructure Planning, Oxfordshire County Council. The situation with London and the South East was a bit like going to the school disco, said Barbara Cooper, Director of Environment, Kent County Council. ‘We see somebody we like in the middle. We are all talking to our friends about should we or shouldn’t we, but I think we are yet to make our first embrace. I know that is difficult with Boris but I think that is the stage we are at.’

David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly


Social City - 19/11/2014

Chris Mansfield
London needs to pay as much attention to its ‘emotional economy’ as it does to its bricks and mortar.

So said Camila Batmanghelidjh, Founding Director, Kids Company at a special NLA breakfast session yesterday, organized to assess what the construction industry can do to allow people to enjoy better lives in the capital and beyond.

Batmanghelidjh set up an organization 18 years ago to take care of children under 11 who were feeling ‘bereft’ at schools being closed, before being deluged with some 400 of the capital’s most disturbed and dispossessed children who the normal agencies had no capacity to help. Fast-forward to today and the statistics have not changed, said Batmanghelidjh, and repeated government initiatives are failing to reach these disenfranchised people, under what Batmanghelidjh called a ‘flawed system’. Because the majority of kids self-refer, Kids Company has no local authority funding, and, added Batmanghelidjh, some two million children are being maltreated in this country today. Following research by UCL, Kids Company found that as many as 1 in 5 of the children under its wing had been shot at or stabbed, a third were sleeping on floors, and 55% of kids didn’t even have a table in their houses. So the charity aims to make physical changes to their homes, and urges the built environment community to give help in this activity, as well as forwarding wealthy people Batmanghelidjh’s way to help its core funding. But when it came to managing these children with disturbed behaviours, nurturing and caring can alter gene expression where punishment can’t, said Batmanghelidjh, principally because of alterations to their frontal lobes caused by their backgrounds. The model you want, said Batmanghelidjh, is a care architecture that reduces the reasons why a child is frightened. ‘As you structure environments, it’s a really good idea to think about the emotional economy within them’, she said. ‘If you want stability in that environment you need to think about how you create a substitute frontal lobe’.

Christine Townley, Executive Director of the Construction Youth Trust also works with young people, specifically to give them opportunities to get involved in careers in construction. This includes a ‘Budding Brunels’ programme, working with Network Rail and Crossrail, taking young people on site, an awards regime, and through its Southwark training centre to link into the Elephant and Castle project.

Social Life, meanwhile, said its founding director Nicola Bacon, works with councils, housing associations and developers to create places. ‘We’re called Social Life because social relationships are what make places tick’, she said. Projects include working with residents at the Aylesbury Estate and at the Elephant and Castle shopping centre, which, far from Ian Sinclair’s description of it as ‘an extermination facility for asylum seekers’ is a home to small businesses and the Latin American community. ‘We’re in danger of ignoring this sort of strength and asset in our city that really does create our social city. If we lose these places we lose a massive amount’, she said.

Finally, Alicia Pivaro, trustee at Architecture sans Frontières, said it was important to help create different models of change, support communities, fight the mindset of short termism and profit and believe that we can do better. ‘To quote Bob the Builder’, she said, ‘the answer is, “yes we can!”’

By David Taylor, Editor, NLQ  


Estate Regeneration: How local authorities are responding - 12/11/2014

Thames View East © Tim Crocker
Housing experts from the public and private sectors gathered this week for an extended breakfast talk at NLA, sponsored by Tibbalds, to examine new strategies for forging exemplary estate regeneration schemes.

Executive Director of Housing and Regeneration at Ealing Pat Hayes began by detailing how his local authority had taken more of a developer role in ‘genuinely addressing housing needs across the borough’, often through refurbishing council housing to a high standard and letting it to a mix of tenures. It aims to generate a sense of place, he said, without necessarily knocking estates down in their entirety. Ealing is also setting up its own company to build more private rented product alongside estate regeneration schemes. ‘Councils can lead regeneration’, said Hayes. ‘Forget about the old model and think about the new of borrowing against a general fund and councils doing much more of a varied product than just social housing. We can do estate regeneration in a different way.’ Richard Lavington, Founding Director, Maccreanor Lavington showed a little of how that attitude is playing out on the ground, with the practice’s Acton Gardens scheme an attempt to create as many family units as possible in a wide mix of tenures, with a double-sided street and a terrace of houses backing onto a school.

Westminster City Council’s Head of Major Projects Tristan Samuels said his authority had a slightly different approach given its unique situation and the second highest house price to income ratio in the country at 18:1. Westminster is looking to deliver 800 new homes and 280 jobs in its latest phase, engaging with residents early on HTA-designed schemes like Tollgate Gardens and Ebury Bridge.

Paul Davis + Partners’ Design Partner Pedro Roos had another example to show – One Church Square - some 31 intermediate rented apartments and eight market rented apartments a short walk from Pimlico Station which concentrates on contextual materials including red brick, a sense of community, and sustainability ideas including PV cells and green roofs.

For Jed Young, Regeneration Team Leader, LB Camden, one of the big challenges was working with public budgets in a private market, and he questioned where the European contractors were in all of this. ‘Why aren’t Europeans coming here and helping us do some decent building?’ he asked.

Hilary Satchwell, Director, Tibbalds turned to the Bourne Estate in Holborn, Camden as an interesting example of how teams can work collaboratively and create a successful team even in the light of the ‘reserved acceptance’ of its residents. The project delivers 75 new homes in a sensitive part of central London, working with listed buildings and conservation areas and residents who wanted the new buildings to be part of the estate. ‘The key learning was about making sure the political dimension could be a positive thing here’, said Satchwell. 

Barking & Dagenham Divisional Director of Regeneration Jeremy Grint said his own area was now concerned with creating more mixed communities and has set up special purpose vehicles to improve housing delivery. The authority has delivered 800 units over the last four years and has 400 more in the pipeline by March 2016. The key factor, said Grint, is in ensuring that finance, housing and regeneration departments work closely and collaboratively together with their cabinet members.

Andrew Beharrell, Executive Director, Pollard Thomas Edwards said that practices such as PTE had been set up as a reaction to the disillusionment at housing problems of the past – socially monocultural, isolated estates that fostered high levels of deprivation – with a ‘grand aim to eliminate the divisive stigma associated with council housing’. The practice’s project at Thames View East benefited from an innovative arrangement of private investment to build new council homes. It incorporates a system of streets and courtyards including 150 family houses, and concentrates on simple materials, uniformity, and the creation of ‘aspirational council housing.’

Jestico + Whiles Associate Director Eoin Keating, showed how Grahame Park near Collingdale Station in the borough breaks down a masterplan into smaller phases and chunks, learning lessons from schemes in Barking and Dagenham. It will provide around 430 homes in the first phases, with a total of 3,000 new homes and community facilities over the next 15 years. And finally, Barnet Director for Place Stephen McDonald said that the council’s land holdings are the key to driving development and that the authority is developing some 16,000 homes for rent, shared ownership or private sale over the next 20 years. One of the key challenges beyond things like NIMBYism, he said, was having expertise and capacity in house – something Barnet solved by forming a joint venture with Capita a year ago. ‘It’s meant that a place like Barnet has been able to take on the ambition of having 1600 homes’ he said. 

David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly   


Don't Move, Improve! 2014 - Shortlist announced! - 11/11/2014

©Agnese Sanvito
Judging has now taken place for Don’t Move, Improve! 2014 competition. The NLA competition, now in its fifth year, and in association with the British institute of Interior Design (BIID), Heal's, and RIBA London, strives to find London’s best new home extensions and interior design projects that deliver more space to live.  

We are pleased to announce that the following projects have been shortlisted:

Home Extension
BLOCK House by MUSTARD Architects
Canonbury House Extension by Trombe
Cecilia Road by MW Architects
Chetwynd Road by Cousins & Cousins Ltd
Clonbrock Road by Lipton Plant Architects
Cotesbach Road by Scenario Architecture
Court House by Coffey Architects
East London House by Mikhail Riches
Flo-Ro by Chance de Silva
Garden Room House by Paul McAneary Architects Ltd
Garden Yoga Studio by MW Architects
Greenwood Road by Kilburn Nightingale Architects
Grove Hill Road by MTA (Michael Trentham Architects)
Hodford Road by MW Architects
House in Hampstead by Cullinan Studio
JJ House by Space Group Architects
London Fields Extension by HUT
Malbrook House by Tigg+Coll Architects
Mount Park House by Paul Archer Design
Ockenden Road by NISSEN RICHARDS studio
Old Ford Road by Gort Scott
Ravenswood by Maccreanor Lavington
RAW House by MUSTARD Architects
Sebastian House by Paul Archer Design
Solent House by Paul Archer Design
Studio 3 by Friend and Company Architects
Summer House by Fraser Brown MacKenna Architects
The Brick House by Alma-nac Collaborative Architecture
The Slate House by Gundry & Ducker Architecture ltd
Wallace Road by Appleton Weiner
Well House by Coffey Architects
Winkley Workshop by Kirkwood McCarthy
ZB House by Delvendahl Martin Architects  

Home Interior Design
Alaska Apartment by IPT Architects
Butterfly Loft Apartment by Tigg+Coll Architects
Canyon House by Coffey Architects
Hillcrest by De Rosee Sa
House Bloomsbury by Stiff + Trevillion
Island Home by Coffey Architects
Islington Penthouse by HUT
New Concordia Wharf by Inside Out Architecture
Rosa & John's home by Zminkowska De Boise Architects
The Rectory by Emrys Architects
Victoria Mews by Bradley Van Der Straeten Architects

Winning projects will be announced at 6.30pm, Wednesday 10 December. All shortlisted projects will be shown in an exhibition at NLA from 11 December 2013 until 12 February 2015.

Shortlisted projects were judged by an eminent jury, chaired by Debbie Whitfield, Director of NLA:
> Carmel Allen, Creative Director, Heal’s
> Chris Hampson, Chair of RIBA London and co-founder Hampson Williams Architecture
> Dan Hopwood, President, BIID
> Luke Tozer, Director, Pitman Tozer
> Phillipa Stockley, journalist, editor and critic specialising in architecture and design

Prizes will be awarded to first, second and third places within each category where appropriate.

 Special prizes may also be awarded across the categories.

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