Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Bridport House, east London, by Karakusevic Carson Architects

The first social housing block in Hackney for 45 years, Karakusevic Carson’s Bridport House is a rallying cry to get boroughs building
Two weeks ago a storm erupted when it emerged that east London’s Newham council was planning to move 500 families on housing benefit to Stoke-on-Trent, some 160 miles away. Blaming rising rents caused by the Olympics and the increasing demand from young professionals, Newham saw this “departure from traditional methods” as the only way to relieve its burgeoning waiting list, in light of the recent cap on housing allowance.
Curiously, the borough was simultaneously finalising plans to demolish its 500-home Carpenters Estate in Stratford to make way for a new Olympic Park-side campus for University College London — after it converts the upper floors of two blocks into exclusive, bird’s-eye-view TV studios for rent. The estate is now hemmed in by the worst of Stratford High Street’s bullying towers, monuments to the council’s thrall to the private sector and negation of its public duties, a physical bar chart of developers’ Olympian greed.
How surprising, then, that only three miles away in neighbouring Hackney, a fellow Olympic borough with equal levels of deprivation, a brand new social housing block has recently been completed — the first such building here for 45 years.
The £6 million Bridport House, by Karakusevic Carson Architects, stands at the northeast corner of Shoreditch Park, a slender sliver of bricks and balconies, like the latest product of the canalside gentrification of this part of town. It occupies a narrow plot on a densely packed block, sandwiched between two housing association sites and Countryside Properties’ Hoxton Wharf, a mean-minded metallic box by Flacq Architects topped with half-a-million pound penthouses. With its deep, cantilevered balconies, high-quality brick and floor-to-ceiling windows, it is hard to believe that Bridport House is the local authority housing block of the bunch — it looks a good deal more expensive than its neighbours.
Read full article here
Originally published in BD, 9 May 2012