Text description provided by the architects. Gainsford Road is a new development that provides affordable homes for first-time buyers in Walthamstow, designed by London-based architecture and urban design partnership Gort Scott for Pocket Living. Located on a residential terraced street and close to the town center, the project comprises of 45 one-bedroom apartments and sensitively responds to the massing of adjacent buildings. The design is expressed by a contemporary typology that builds upon the existing character of the surrounding area, drawing upon the legacy of carefully crafted, decorative architecture in Walthamstow.
Such examples of inspiration arrive in the form of the legacy of the William Morris School that previously occupied the site and the late 19th to the 20th century set Warner Houses that are particular to the East London located region. This not only informed the character of the project’s design but its materiality of fletton brick, precast colored concrete, graphite powder coated metalwork and bespoke hand glazed tiling. The building is three stories in the main, thoughtfully designed so that it is stepped down to the west to accommodate the slope in topography and more closely align with the roof height of the neighboring two-story terraces.
A fourth story, an element with a precast belvedere construction along the street façade, rises to a similar height to the ridgeline of the existing building on the site, in a means to announce the communal nature of its apartment block typology. Designed to maximize opportunities for resident interaction, the entrance to the building is accessed from the street and is clearly marked by a gateway made of precast concrete elements (leading to the communal area), which spans the point where the building steps back 1m. The building itself is laid out over a T-shaped plan, with each floor connected deliberately by a single, oversized and centrally located staircase – thus avoiding an unwelcoming network of corridors.
The Gainsford Road wing runs east-west and the other, north-south, with private terraces onto communal garden spaces occupying the remaining section of the site. Privacy is also considered and achieved for the ground floor flats on Gainsford Road through a generous front garden that sets the units back from the street. These flats are screened using dense low-level planting. The plan of each individual flat within the development has been carefully designed in order to maximize living space within a compact one-bedroom apartment. This ensures Gainsford Road is viable while remaining 100% affordable and contributing to the LPA’s affordable housing numbers.
To fit within a compact footprint, it is necessary that each flat is a single aspect. Responsive to the brief and the ethos of the client, Gort Scott’s design is intentionally efficient and functional while promoting a sense of community through shared amenities. The client, Pocket Living, produces high-quality, Mayor’s Design Standard, one-bedroom affordable apartments, responding to growing numbers of Londoners who are priced out of the private housing market. They are sold at a minimum 20% reduction from the market rate, to be eligible to local buyers. The pocket was awarded £26.4m GLA funding over 10 years to enable approximately 5,000 Londoners to own their own homes.