London, GB


Stockwool completes £85m East London regeneration scheme

Toby Cope
May 20, '16 11:53 AM EST

Stockwool has shared the first images of its £85m regeneration of a former school site within the Festival of Britain’s Lansbury Estate conservation area.

The 502-home scheme, known as New Festival Quarter, sits on a 1.95-hectare site of new landscaped public realm. The design approach aimed to capture the spirit of the 1951 Festival of Britain while creating architecture that is of its time. The Festival, described as a ‘reaffirmation of faith in the nation’s future’, made housing for all a key element of that future. The Lansbury Estate, to be built as a live architecture exhibition, was designed as an exemplar of planning-led neighbourhood creation, regenerating the badly bombed Poplar area.

Said to be the first project to include a sociologist among its multidisciplinary team, it intended to create a viable and self-sustaining community with all the amenities residents needed, including shops, schools, churches and community buildings. The context to the Festival and to the Lansbury Estate was a housing situation in which 60% of those who moved into the new homes had shared their previous accommodation and 63% had previously had no access to an inside toilet.

With that in mind, it is easy to see what a new world Lansbury would have been for the residents. For its obvious stumbles once the Festival was over, the optimism represented by the Lansbury Estate to create an ethos of neighbourliness and local patriotism within a context of severe housing need is something to be commended, and while we face different housing challenges today, we were keen to create architecture that would foster some of that ethos with New Festival Quarter.

Where two-bedroom maisonettes formed a large part of the Lansbury Estate’s housing stock, at New Festival Quarter we brought forward a wider range of new homes, from studio flats through to five-bedroom family mews houses. Our scheme introduced significant areas of outdoor communal space, in addition to all homes having private terraces or balconies, and a community hall, nursery and fitness centre among its non-residential facilities. This prevalence of open and communal space for families to enjoy was characteristic of Lansbury, much like the uniform character of streetscapes and distinct building groups that are echoed in the elevations, window reveals and varying blocks within New Festival Quarter.

Building within a conservation area, the massing of the blocks was carefully considered, with building heights lowered in areas of sensitivity and taller elements strategically placed so as not to affect the neighbouring housing. The yellow brick stock used, seen at the time of Lansbury’s construction as unimaginative, is now highly fashionable, and this allowed us to be sensitive to the setting while creating an appealing aesthetic.

The Lansbury Estate is considered to be very much of its time. We are proud to have brought forward a scheme which captures the best of its spirit with New Festival Quarter, while regenerating the area and creating a new urban quarter that will restore a sense of pride in Poplar.