Unlocking a hidden pocket of land to house a thriving urban community.
Working with Aberfeldy New Village LLP, a joint venture between Poplar HARCA and EcoWorld London, we are leading the design of the transformation of the Aberfeldy Estate in east London, providing 1,176 new homes, shops, a faith centre, community centre and PCT.
The driving force behind this project is to improve the homes and environment for the local community. Importantly, we committed to rehousing all existing residents within the new scheme, alongside additional new homes and a broad spectrum of community facilities, essential for any urban neighbourhood. Working in collaboration with Bow Arts Trust and make:good, a series of workshops were held to develop design proposals with residents. With a very diverse local population, we used a variety of different methods of engagement to ensure that everyone could understand and buy into our vision for the new Aberfeldy Estate.
The site is located on the northern boundary of the Import Dock, famous for the importing of exotic goods during the 18th and 19th century. This heritage was sadly lost when it was heavily bombed during the war and subsequently redeveloped.
Owned and managed by Poplar HARCA, the estate was situated on a hidden pocket of land – bounded by the A12, A13 and River Lea. Gasholders to the north east and Erno Goldfinger’s iconic Balfron Tower to the west completed the urban context. Initially a very self-contained site was opened up by a new pedestrian crossing over the A13, connecting the community to the south and East India DLR station.
Our brief from the outset was to deliver a new masterplan, transforming the Aberfeldy Estate into a new urban village, drawing out its industrial history and building on its new connections to the wider area. On the strength of our proposals, we were appointed to develop the masterplan, architecture and landscape for the regeneration of the whole estate.
The key concept of the masterplan was to create a series of new routes in and around the site – bringing people into the centre of the scheme from the nearby busy roads and public transport nodes. Carving these new connections between the buildings will make the whole area much more permeable and welcoming for both residents and visitors. A new street running north to south with shops, community resources, health facilities and a faith centre will reinstate the old high street, creating activity within a new village centre set around a new public square.
A new linear park sits at the heart of the neighbourhood, with open lawns and varied play spaces, lined with trees and seasonal planting to provide colour all year round. The park is also a key part of the sustainable drainage system and biodiversity strategy, which was developed with the London Wildlife Trust to ensure the new landscape fosters a broad range of species. A continual swale runs along the full length of the park with steps facing south, providing informal seating. Plants for pollinators; brick faced boxes for birds; biodiverse roofs and a variety of trees, shrubs and flowering bulbs will create diverse habitat types that previously did not exist.
New homes are arranged around this linear green space in medium rise, high density buildings ranging from four to ten storeys. Lower, more domestic scale buildings sit adjacent to the neighbouring estate, whilst higher, muscular, robust buildings along the A13 provide a degree of protection to this urban edge.
The site’s illustrious past is made visible through art installations including cast concrete tea crates and brass cotton reels in the landscape and paisley patterns etched in the paving. Crisp detailing and a limited material palette give the buildings a modern warehouse aesthetic.