Warbank Crescent is a 36 unit affordable housing scheme completed for LB Croydon’s housing company Brick by Brick. Brick by Brick was a progressive development company established by the council to develop multiple brownfield gap sites around the borough into new, design-led multi-tenure housing. Coffey Architects were commissioned to design 10 of these sites, of which Warbank is one.
In common with many similar sites available for development in suburban London, this site had fallen into disrepair and housed a mixture of storage spaces, derelict temporary accommodation cabins and bin store areas. It was overlooked by surrounding housing, creating challenging daylighting and aspect issues, and had tight physical boundaries and access constraints creating issues for buildability and servicing. The site was located on a fully occupied and much used council estate, making effective resident engagement and communications throughout all stages of development even more important.
In order to investigate and consider the opportunity of the site, we held multiple public engagement events alongside the client to discuss the proposals for developing new homes, which was by no means a universally popular proposition for existing residents. The events offered an opportunity for stakeholders to put forward comments and views and thereby for local feedback to influence the design, but it was also a means by which to present the personality, ethos and approach of the design team and build confidence in the project. Coinciding with the events, we also contributed to a scheme-specific website with more detailed, interactive drawn content to offer interested parties further opportunity to consider on the proposals.
The end result was that, having listened to both client and local community requirements, we were able to put forward a new housing typology which suited all aspirations and was achievable within the client budget. This typology maximised the efficiency of the built form and created courtyard gardens and distinct terraces, successfully dealing with key concerns such as overlooking, privacy and access. This arrangement also offered economies of scale for the client from standardisation and optimised the number of homes they could deliver on the site.
A neighbourly design
Warbank Crescent was designed as a permeable set of volumes that allow neighbours to look between elements of form, thereby retaining long views to the green areas behind the new homes. The high-level windows were strategically located so that residents do not overlook each other or the existing neighbouring plots. The development also created new bin stores, play areas and external spaces for the existing estate.
Daylight and privacy
The design is characterised by a clerestory that allows daylight to flood the rooms along the street while also retaining privacy within the homes. Facing courtyards allow light into the middle of the plan, making for bright and spacious homes.
Planes of colour
Massing is broken down by adding different colours to each face, creating a deliberate joyful playfulness. A gradient of colours reference the hues of the surrounding trees and landscape.
Integrated and inventive storage and planters
A deep 'wall' to the front creates a threshold between inside and outside. This 'wall' is also practical, providing storage cupboards, seats and planters, and creating an inviting, tidy area at the front of the homes.
Courtyard and terrace spaces
The gaps between the volumes create outdoor space for the residents on this tight site. The upper units have distinct roof terraces for sitting in the sun and the lower units have flourishing courtyard gardens.
Modern methods of construction
Major building elements such as SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) were manufactured off site to help reduce the construction time on site, leading to less disturbance of the local residents and a quicker build programme.