Located in Kennington, South London, Phase 1 of Mæ’s Knight’s Walk Estate is an infill development in that delivers on Lambeth Council’s commitment to deliver local housing needs. The 16 spacious apartments, all for social rent are the first phase of a site-wide programme to increase the density within an existing estate.
Architect: Mæ Architects
Developer: Homes for Lambeth
Contractor: Hill Holdings Ltd
Planning Authority: London Borough of Lambeth
Planning Consultant: Tibbalds Planning & Urban Design
Date of completion: October 2021
Schedule of Accommodation: 16 Apartment Homes (2 Accessible)
Tenure Mix: 100% affordable Council rent
Total number of homes: 16
Site size (hectares): 0.68ha
Net Density (Homes per hectare): 215 DPH
Originally designed by George Finch for Lambeth Council in 1968, the Cotton Gardens Estate is characterized by three, highly articulated concrete towers and brick-built patio houses and flats.
Replacing a two-storey car park, the new building re-establishes Knight’s Walk as the primary pedestrian route through the site. The new arrangement of buildings also frees up amenity space and reduces overlooking, whilst enhancing the relationship between Cotton Garden Estate and the neighbouring Renfrew Road Conservation Area.
The five storey building responds in scale and materiality to the context; the building echoes the character of the estate. Built of a complementary palette brick type, pale bricks form the plinth and purple-brown bricks above, with cast concrete offering a reinterpretation of the adjacent historic Portland stone police station. The building steps in and out in both plan and section, to reduce its perceived mass, minimise overlooking of retained patio houses, and to echo the form of Finch’s work. New balconies have been detailed to provide additional amenity space, whilst minimising overlooking to the existing buildings.
The one, two and three-bed flats for social rent will be occupied by the estate’s existing council tenants to enable further work to be undertaken to the area. The design has been optimized for user wellbeing; with well-ventilated dual aspect apartments that are oriented to maximise sunlight. The residents of Knight’s Walk have been involved in the development of the design of the project through a series of monthly resident engagement events. A new communal garden was added to the brief at the specific request of residents. The garden is well-integrated with the main building and well-lit throughout the year.
“Across all phases of Knight’s Walk we wanted to create a mixed and sustainable, cohesive community. This development of affordable housing therefore sets the standard for the next phase, whether private or affordable. The Phase 1 design by Mæ establishes a language that we will adopt for the next phase, with a mix of robust, long-lasting materials like cast stone and brickwork. The heating system is future-proofed, with underground conduits to allow for a future connection to Phase 2’s ASHP network, reducing carbon use and mitigating the potential risk of fuel poverty for the residents. The homes are highly secure, warm and comfortable, an energy-efficient heat interface system will work in tandem with a mechanically ventilated heat recovery system and a highly insulated and draft free envelope which all ensures energy usage is well managed.”
Robert Taylor, Senior Design Manager
Homes for Lambeth