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40 PROJECT REPORT: SOCIAL & AFFORDABLE HOUSING


10 metres from some points of the new development, would be significantly affected by the works, particularly in terms of privacy and daylighting.


Through consultations with residents and the local tenant management organisa- tion, the architects devised a strategy which aimed to progressively step the massing of the two buildings down as they got closer to their new neighbour, with Long Lane reduced to three storeys and eventually one storey, while the Weston Street-facing block also steps down to one storey towards the boundary wall.


While this massing approach meant a reduction in the number of new homes that could have been be provided, Simon Lea, associate director at Levitt Bernstein, insists it was worth the compromise. “The project was a delicate balance of protecting quality for existing residents while trying to maximise new homes.”


LET THERE BE WHITE


White brick is used to mark recessed areas such as balconies and external walkways


bigger of the two social housing blocks, a six-storey brick-clad building at 169 Long Lane, forms the main part of the scheme, while an identically clad three-storey block completes the development on the adjacent Weston Street.


This unusual arrangement was necessary in order to use all available space to create what the council hoped would be an exemplar development of tenure-blind council housing development on a busy and constrained site. Fully affordable, with a mix of 21 council rent flats and shared ownership apartments including two spacious wheelchair units, the project on Long Lane was delivered in the context of a rapidly changing neighbour- hood, where challenges presented by both existing and emerging schemes had to be considered.


Close proximity


Perhaps the biggest question facing Levitt Bernstein was how to integrate the new scheme into the adjacent 1960s Kipling Estate, which Long Lane has now become part of. While the existing estate’s two 21-storey high rises have a big influence on the area’s character, it was the low-rise building to the north of the Long Lane scheme which required special attention from the outset. Heldar Court, which is located as close as


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The architects designed all rear-facing windows to either angle away from the existing building or be fitted with opaque glass to allow daylight in, while also protecting the privacy of the existing residents. They also took care to orientate most living areas away from the neigh- bouring building, and towards the south and west instead.


The entrance route to the flats goes through the courtyard at the back, which is separated from Heldar Court’s private gardens by a new boundary wall. In a bid to protect residents’ privacy, but also allow daylight to pass through, the top half of this wall features a small yet nicely detailed area of brick lattice in the wall. During consultations, the existing residents also feared the new external stair- case at the rear could also create overlooking issues, so translucent glass balustrading raised to 1.7 metres above landing level was introduced to shield the opposite building from view.


Skin & streetscape


Levitt Bernstein’s love for brick is expressed throughout the building, as has been the case in other affordable housing projects completed by the architects in the past few years, such as the award-winning Buccleuch House in Hackney and Vaudeville Court in Islington. However, while the aforementioned schemes are clad in a lighter brick, the Long Lane development offers a stark contrast with its dark skin of smooth blue brick (actually more of a dark grey). At the bases of both blocks, textured stack-bonded


ADF SEPTEMBER 2017


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