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39


BUILDING PROJECTS


QUADRA HACKNEY, LONDON


Downsizing but not out


Grabbing views over Hackney’s London Fields, PRP’s new alternative offering to the early retirement market offers space to Londoners looking to downsize in style, on a tight site. Sébastien Reed speaks to the project architect Stephen Hynds


N


ow more commonly associated with young professionals, bicycle-bakeries and craft beer


pubs, Hackney is perhaps not the most intuitive location for an over 55s residence. The site that now hosts Quadra had been in the possession of Hanover Housing Association since the 1980s, whose former schemes included a sheltered housing scheme – one of 12 ‘Hanover in Hackney’ developments.


Hanover approached PRP in 2012, aware of the architects’ rich portfolio of later- living and retirement schemes, plus the strengths of their 40-strong office in Thames Ditton, who specialise in such typologies. The practice has had a strong presence in this sector since the 1980s, developing so-called ‘extra-care’ schemes. The Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation (HAPPI) standard produced by the UK Government was at the core of this project. As Hynds puts it:“The brief was very much HAPPI.” The standard is composed of a set of design criteria for spaces for an elder demographic, foregrounding principles such as good light, ventilation, room to move around and good storage. Hynds comments: “We’d been designing this sort of housing for a long time before the HAPPI report, so spacious flats with good orientation – assisted tech in some cases – we’ve been doing for a long time.”


He continues: “But what’s good about the report is that it looks at the influence of schemes in Europe and makes this kind of housing more mainstream.”


Midway through the briefing process, the second client Hill Homes was brought on board to manage the commercial activity surrounding the 15 private sale apartments in addition to 14 affordable units managed by Hanover, who obtained government funding for their portion.


Rights of light In plan, Quadra is arranged in a loose arch shape, shielding a secure central courtyard and garden on the southern side of the plot. Pathways through the courtyard are delineated by grey brick paving, providing wayfinding to each of the three wings of the structure, which perforate the east and west wings towards the outer side of the arch and wrap around the building’s northern periphery.


Services are located on the ground floor at the north-east and north-west corners of the scheme, while an office, bin store and communal foyer are situated at the end of the western wing. In addition, bin stores are found at the north-west and south-east corners of the plot. The remainder of the ground floor comprises eight residential units, spanning the breadth of the plan’s contour.


The first floor features a further six


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