RCKa has secured planning for two affordable housing projects on behalf of Barnet Homes on infill sites in the borough – Broadfields and Coppetts Road. The practice was appointed to consider the intensification of existing suburban housing estates, as part of a strategic review, and deployed an innovative approach to overcome significant challenges of privacy, construction viability and the need to provide a diverse mix of homes to help meet the demand for affordable housing in the capital.
Broadfields sits on the very edge of London, at the north-western corner of Edgware. Here, RCKa has obtained consent for 28 new homes on a long, narrow site within the Broadlands Estate, surrounded by a mix of inter- and post-war housing that is typical of London’s northern fringe.
RCKa was appointed as both masterplanners and architects, and tasked with providing as many new homes as possible on the site – currently a jumble of under-used garages and stores. The practice has responded not only by providing high-quality affordable housing, but also by restoring public space and amenity for existing residents, and improving routes and sustainable connections across the neighbourhood.
The new homes – a mix of one- and two-bed apartments – are arranged within two irregularly-shaped pentagonal blocks at the southeastern edge of the site. Positioning the blocks away from the site boundary creates a sense of spaciousness despite the constrained site. It allows all homes to have high-quality private outdoor amenity space – whether ground floor gardens or recessed balconies for residents on upper levels. The remainder of the site will be cleared and replaced by new landscaping and spaces for residents to use and socialise in. RCKa’s strategic masterplan for the site includes significant external improvement works that Exterior Architecture landscape architects collaborated on. A series of multigenerational spaces to support community cohesion will be transformational for existing residents in particular, as their current outlook over low-quality estate land will be replaced by views across, and access to, new and improved green space.
Architecturally, RCKa’s new blocks are relatively restrained, seeking to sit comfortably alongside the mixture of neighbouring suburban buildings. Characterised by robust detailing and a thoughtful material selection informed by their setting; warm-toned yellow-brown brick facades, topped with pre-cast concrete copings, enlivened by red-toned cladding and metal balconies, pick up colours and textures used nearby.
Coppetts Road will deliver 15 new affordable homes and bring underused garage sites into productive re-use, while enhancing its established suburban setting. High-quality green space is at the heart of the development, with existing mature trees retained within a new central park that provides a hub of activity and community focus for residents.
Arranged as two blocks – one containing maisonettes and apartments and a second containing six terraced family homes – the development sits comfortably alongside the neighbouring Martins Walk Estate. It uses green space to enhance the wider public realm by connecting the development with the estate and nearby allotments. Homes enjoy views over the communal garden and play area, providing passive surveillance and promoting neighbourliness. All houses and apartments will have private amenity space that exceeds GLA requirements.
The highly articulated roofline of the maisonette block sits harmoniously within the mixed streetscape of Coppetts Road, mediating between taller blocks to one side and houses on the other. RCKa’s new terrace meanwhile, frames the new communal garden and responds to the scale of a neighbouring school and nearby properties. Materials with warm, natural tones will be used to sit harmoniously with the communal garden: rusticated bricks will match the look and feel of the surrounding neighbourhood, paired with contrasting aluminium framed windows and tinted precast elements to add visual interest and texture.