Arklow Road

The transformation of a handsome 1920’s industrial office building into 44 affordable and market homes for local young professionals and families keen to get on the housing ladder

The transformation of a handsome 1920’s industrial office building into 44 affordable and market homes for local young professionals and families keen to get on the housing ladder features innovative design solutions and generous shared amenities to encourage social interaction and the formation of a vibrant new community.

The building includes shared amenity spaces and innovative design to encourage social cohesion, such as a resident’s lounge with space for events, dining and relaxing. This space incorporates post boxes and information board, sofas and kitchenette, and opens onto a generous shared garden with raised allotments and wild-berry brambles to an ecologically rich raised railway-siding.

RCKa’s design approach focused on identifying opportunities rather than constraints, and in doing so unlocked a handful of strategic moves which turned strict technical requirements into imaginative solutions to encourage social interaction.

For example, by separating social spaces from circulation and lift cores, a requirement for costly and divisive fire separation systems was eliminated, whilst saleable area was increased. A new stair was located to one side of the existing building providing a safe and direct escape route to the street, whilst an active and open series of spaces at ground floor dramatically increases chances of interaction between neighbours and the formation of new friendships and a sense of community.

Unusually for Pocket Living this project involved the conversion of an existing structure into new homes. RCKa’s challenge was to reconcile the client’s efficient, well-established housing product with the eccentricities of the existing building fabric.

The layout was tailored to both Pocket Living’s ‘citymakers’ as well as the local market, which the practice identified as included a healthy cycling culture. The ground floor was designed to nurture this through the provision of a seamless transition from street to rear courtyard, with resilient and attractive floor finishes running throughout internal and external spaces, and the inclusion of wheel dips at each entrance door to allow residents to temporarily support their bike as they open them. The continuous diamond motif within the floor finishes runs throughout the ground floor, referencing the building’s original use as a warehouse for a manufacturer of cast-iron products; the pattern recalls the design of the inspection covers stored in the building.

The Arklow Road scheme provides an attractive arrival sequence which in turn ensures the ground floor lounge becomes active space that is comfortable and welcoming. The design strategy responds directly to the street, adapting the former entrance to this industrial building to become more residential in character; generating a community-focused model of development that celebrates the street as a vibrant place of activity and interaction.

As well as a range of standard Pocket-style units, the scheme also includes a two-storey rooftop extension which provides a series of larger dual-aspect apartments for private sale.

Residents and visitors arriving at the main entrance are greeted by an elegant, curtain-like entrance screen. On stepping through the large entrance door, visitors enter a dramatic five-storey entrance court that conceals the main stair core and provides a visual connection to the balconies on the upper floors.

Passing through the entrance court one enters a generous 3.5m high foyer/event space; with seating, notice boards and post boxes, and space for meeting, it encourages residents to linger, hold small events and generally catch-up with neighbours.


Construction Value

Completed spring 2018

Lewisham, London

Jakob Spriestersbach

Project Team
Owen Jowett
Dieter Kleiner
Hayley Chivers
Kaiyil Gnanakumaran
Tom Hart