Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wardroper House by Sarah Wigglesworth Architects and Arch Street by S333, Elephant & Castle, south London

Financial constraints and local politics have created an uphill struggle for S333 and Sarah Wigglesworth Architects to build decent homes for former tenants of Elephant and Castle’s Heygate Estate.
Back in 2005, certain young London architects could barely believe their luck. In an astonishingly progressive move by Southwark Council, a panel of 15 small practices was assembled to design 1,000 replacement homes for people being “decanted” from the maligned Heygate Estate, long earmarked for demolition as part of the wider Elephant & Castle regeneration.
“We wanted practices that still have a design edge, practices that haven’t moved into designing large offices, where the main design input is choosing the cladding system,” said Chris Horn, then Elephant & Castle development director at Southwark, who talked excitedly about the arrival of “14 jewel boxes” to the borough. The world was enthused.
Five years later, the project was declared to have “failed” by Fiona Colley, cabinet member for regeneration. The target of 1,000 homes has now withered to just over 500, and some of the most interesting – and actually young – offices have long since been kicked off their projects...
Read the full article here
Originally published in BD, 27 July 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

South Norwood Hill Children’s Centre, by Erect Architecture

Erect Architecture’s joyful reinvention of a nursery building in South Norwood, London, has a lot to teach us about working with existing buildings and systems, says Oliver Wainwright

An army of angry mothers and toddlers descended on Downing Street on Mother’s Day this year in a fearsome frenzy of face paint and nursery rhymes. They came to deliver a 50,000-name petition against the closure of Sure Start children’s centres, after research by the Daycare Trust predicted that 250 of these facilities might be forced to shut in 2011 as a result of coalition cuts.

“The centres are a great leveller in our society,” organiser Louise King told the BBC. “Kids from all walks of life mix and learn together and parents can further their education and gain vital support. Take them away, or force them to make cutbacks, and we’ll see the next generation really suffer.”

Luckily, buildings run a little way behind politics. Just as this savagery was being announced, as if in a miraculous parallel universe, a new children’s centre opened on a wooded hillside in Croydon – perhaps the last we will see for some time. Nestled into a sloping site in the north of the borough, the South Norwood Hill Children’s Centre by Erect Architecture shows just how much these facilities are worth fighting for – and just how hard you have to fight to realise them in the first place...

Read the full article here

Originally published in BD, 13 July 2011