Ely Court

Ely Court is the first of three projects by Alison Brooks Architects within the South Kilburn Estate Regeneration masterplan to complete. In total ten practices are working on the 15-year programme, which aims to transform the area and reintegrate the estate and its community back into the fabric of the city through the provision of 2400 new homes.

The scheme has just been awarded with RIBA London award by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Commissioned by the London Borough of Brent and Catalyst Housing, Ely Court provides 44 new homes as part of the South Kilburn Estate Regeneration Masterplan, one of the largest regeneration schemes in London.

The £8.2m project will act as a catalyst for the ongoing social and urban transformation of the wider estate. Following an architectural competition for each phase, the council oversaw community engagement and construction in partnership with the developers. The council safeguarded the allocation of social housing – 50% of flats are affordable and all existing tenants were offered new homes. Led by the local authority, the design is driven by a contemporary reinterpretation of the blockand-street urban grain that characterised the area before its post-war redevelopment with residential blocks set in open space.

Alison Brooks Architects’ 6,509m² project frames a new 400m2 garden square in front of the 1960s estate Alpha House. The design draws on the varied nature of its surrounding context, which includes Victorian semi-detached villas, 1960s blocks, a Salvation Army centre and a former pub. The result is the creation of four building types of common brick but with various scales and organisation: Terrace; Mews; Link block, and Flatiron. Tenure is 50/50 social and private with units generally exceeding the London Housing Design Guide standards. All the typologies provide exceptionally high quality, bright and spacious units with a generous 2.6m floor to ceiling height and full height French doors.

The Terrace references the Nineteenth Century mansion blocks of neighbouring Maida Vale, but adapts the typology to include two storey maisonettes on the ground floor with apartments above. A rhythmic composition of front porticoes, upper porticos and recessed balconies creates a highly articulated street façade.

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Running parallel with the Terrace, the 8-house Alpha Mews introduces a finer grain of development, drawing pedestrians and vehicles into what was previously an under-used space between slab blocks and forming a new green spine. The serrated roofscape allows additional sunlight into the homes. “The more active street elevations ensure that public spaces are all well overlooked by windows, residents’ balconies and roof gardens” says Alison Brooks of Alison Brooks Architects. “The scheme demonstrates the ability of a Local Authority to lead the process of enlightened city building, by commissioning and delivering housing of the highest calibre to integrate previously segregated communities.”

Richard Barrat, Director of Regen at Brent Council, said: “It’s inspiring to work with award winning architects like Alison Brooks who understand the vision and execute it so well. They work very hard with our stakeholders and residents, and the project team, to ensure the designs fit into the urban context and wider public realm. The external façade, materiality, internal layouts and specification are all thought through carefully, to be the best they can be, in order to remain viable and sustainable. This creates a real sense of ownership and place for the community, which makes the process even more rewarding.”

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