2019 – Competition
Delvendahl Martin Architects’ competition-winning scheme provides a mixed tenure, temporary housing solution for a site in the Royal Docks area in Newham, east London. Developed in collaboration with Levitt Bernstein, the project creates around 150 units across a two-hectare site, with a focus on family housing and live/work space for ‘cultural key workers’ such as artists requiring affordable living and studio space.
Our proposal takes an alternative approach to housing design, where the spaces between the buildings (often overlooked as a by-product of a masterplan) are in this case the main generator of the scheme. The masterplan is conceived as a sequence of open spaces of varying degrees of privacy that encourage social interaction and articulate the way people relate to the surrounding landscape and to each other.
The layout of the housing blocks is based on the idea of a chain that gradually uncoils towards the river. The chain is formed by unit clusters in a rhythm of compression and release, providing the spaces in between with different characters and scales. When the chain narrows down, it forms a series of north-facing yard-like spaces, which are accessible from a new road. When the chain opens, it forms a series of south-facing soft landscaped spaces, where play, planting, growing and covered community activities are located. The main living spaces and bedrooms of the units are oriented towards these spaces.
Due to the site’s location within flood risk zone 3, all residential accommodation is located at first floor level and above; work and communal spaces are distributed along the ground floor areas.
The construction system is based on a ‘kit of parts’ on a 2.4 m wide grid, which reflects international standards for modular logistics production and allows easy transportation. The proposal utilises ready-made standard steel-framed containers and proposes additional infill panels, openings and cladding to suit the unit layout. Individual components can be unbolted and reconnected in the same or different arrangements on future new sites.