Wansey Street

Wansey Street, the £4.2million pilot project for the Elephant and Castle Regeneration masterplan, was designed as a demonstration to local residents living in outmoded accommodation what social housing could be.

The site, a gap between Victorian terraced housing and Walworth Town Hall, offered an opportunity to reinterpret traditional terraced housing with 21st century requirements for density, planning flexibility, sustainability, ownership and security.

Our scheme sought to create homes with identity that were vibrant and colourful.Rather than the monolithic slab blocks of nearby estates, we designed a series of small buildings with gaps between, connected to communal south-facing gardens at the rear.

Working as we always do on our residential projects from the inside out, we maximised light and usable space at every turn, with full-length windows and a rejection of wasteful corridor-living. The coloured façade, made from standard fibre cement board, created cohesion between the four blocks and the individual flats, while also serving to connect the neighbouring terraced housing with the adjacent town hall in terms of scale and proportion.

More than anything, the mixed tenure accommodation (an integration of 61% social housing and 39% private sale), made possible by shared stairwells and interlinking units, provides an example of a genuine ‘pepper-pot’ development; a feat rarely achieved in urban development.

The project was critically acclaimed and won dRMM the award for the BD Social Housing Architect of the Year. It serves as a lesson in providing the maximum possible quality for all residents, whatever their tenure. This is what we consider the real social achievement of the design.

Photography © Alex de Rijke, Jonas Lencer