Last edited 26 Apr 2019

Main author

CIAT Website

The Bourne Estate

Bourne estate.jpg

It is an exciting time for Matthew Lloyd’s Shoreditch-based practice. Not only has his Bourne Estate project been named overall winner at the Housing Design Awards (of which CIAT is one of the Award sponsors) but also the associated NHS 70 Award for healthy homes, a RIBA Regional Design Award and a Camden Design Award. It is not just the one project garnering praise.

For a small practice, Matthew Lloyd Architects has won a collection of recent awards. “We’re quite bespoke, so we work very hard on our buildings”, he says. There is a clear design process “very partner driven… it is never rolled down the line.”

The £19m scheme in question provides 75 new dwellings on the Grade II-listed Bourne Estate in London. The design seeks to respond to the original Edwardian architecture of the site. The brickwork is finely detailed and the footprints of the new buildings aim to emulate, as closely as possible, those of the old.

One of the areas where the project stands out is the public spaces it has developed. The estate has new multi-use games and play areas. The key, Lloyd says, is to make these external areas feel like ‘rooms. They have to be places people want to go in and stay in. “If you don’t have enclosure, it’s too windswept… people won’t use it”, he says. “Somehow these spaces are intimate”, despite the fact that they are heavily overlooked from flats above.

Indeed, it was these open spaces that helped the project scoop the NHS 70 Award. The scheme includes very little parking and so encourages people not to drive.

Lloyd believes it is also healthy from a psychological point of view. It’s a pedestrian-friendly space that provides “a delightful walk” for those getting to their homes or simply passing through.

Bourne estate drawing.jpg

There were several challenges on this project for Lloyd’s team to contend with. “We were relatively constrained because of height and because of, to some extent, architectural style… and because of the pattern of the south side of the estate.” However, in some ways these constraints – necessity being the mother of all invention – were useful, shaping the development. Specifically, Lloyd highlights “the language of the buildings… the solidity, the sense of home – people like that.”

Another challenge was getting heat around the site. The original substation, previously sitting obtrusively with an open courtyard, had to be relocated into the ground floor of one of the new blocks.

Every one of the flats built meets Greater London Authority and Camden Council standards. Regulation, Lloyd says, defines the work of his designers. He believes that “space standards… are comparatively good nowadays” and adhering to them paves the way for high quality projects.

Camden Council was the owner-developer for the project which is now a surprisingly rare setup. As the social offer of the site is extended, the “private flats in here will more than cover the cost of construction”. Amid an acute housing crisis, could this be the way forward? “It is more than a way forward. It is the way forward”, says Lloyd. “All we need is to have a radical and brave public sector.”

It is no secret that regeneration schemes in London have earned something of a bad reputation. Consultation is often seen as ‘tick-box’ exercise and social tenants can feel like councils are simply making way for wealthy residents. This is something Lloyd and his team were keen to avoid.

The practice worked with Tibbalds Planning to consult with residents. They were, according to Lloyd, unusually hands on. They engaged with residents through the Tenants and Residents’ Association and held many public events. The aim was to do this often enough so that “there were no surprises for local people” and that the consultation “definitely” got more people on board.

So, what advice does Lloyd have for aspiring architectural technologists? What comes through very strongly is staying on projects for as long as possible.

“If one of your members has a strong relationship with a design, they understand it through and through… then that is extremely important for a project.” Lloyd says it is hard to do but his advice is to “stay on it”.

[edit] Project data

[edit] About this article

This article was written by James Evans, communications and digital Administrator, CIAT. It was first published in CIAT’s AT magazine No 128 (Winter 2018) and can be accessed here.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

--CIAT