Brentford Lock West, Hounslow
A project for ISIS Waterside Regeneration (The development arm of British Waterways, which is also owned by developer Igloo and Muse Developments) to progress Phase 1 of a wider masterplan by Swedish urban designers Tovatt and Klas Tham, to deliver 150 homes (of 600 planned through further phases) plus a further 550sqm of commercial space.
The project has been named Brentford Lock West, due to its association with the canal and the bustling Brentford Town, nearby. Duggan Morris Architects were selected as part of a collaboration of Riches Hawley Mikhail, and Karakusevic Carson through an invited competition in September 2011. The team approach was defined by an ethos of open and inclusive collaboration which led to a cohesive identity for the project as a whole. This dynamic has enabled the design team to extract a clear understanding of the contextual considerations of site, community, ecology and above all the core fundamentals of the outline consented masterplan.
The project is also driven by a high ambition for a low environmental impact with sustainable technologies developed alongside passive ecological means including harnessing the physical properties of the canal both in terms of providing a means for cooling, but also for educational means. Additionally, productive landscapes for growing and harvesting are included at roof and terrace levels, to enable the landscape and public realm to act as places for play and leisure.
The Duggan Morris Architects scheme consists of forty five residential units fronting onto the canal-side and split over two plots. The canal side is a quality marker for the site, and the response to this has been specific in the context of the overall approach. The newly designed blocks facing the canal are denser and higher than the other housing units, and designed to take advantage of this amenity space and in turn to articulate the canal in terms of massing, and life.
The buildings are conceived as cranked blocks following a meandering neighbourhood street held together by a large base plinth. The blocks are designed as a pair, both following a series of simple rules. The predominant building material is brick, whilst a subtle play with the details defines positions of windows and balconies. The inverted roof forms and materials evoke the forms of the nearby waterside sheds with their series of inverted pitched roofs . The buildings constituting block G, ‘frame’ communal spaces both between the blocks, and within the neighbourhood street. These interstitial spaces are thus the key to the success to the scheme and each space has its own language and treatment of hard and soft landscaping.