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Co-living, Forest Gate

Shortlisted competition entry for a co-living scheme on a constrained infill site in Forest Gate, London.

Area: 1700m2


Exploration of communal living is vPPR’s key interest. We believe strongly in the therapeutic benefits of sharing space but that control of privacy and who you share space with are also essential to ensure accountability for the upkeep and management of communal resources. We feel that a gradient of types of shared space is the best way to provide this control and accountability.

In our proposal for the Forest Gate Co-living Development we propose four types of space:
1. Communal garden shared between the whole block
2. Shared triple-height kitchen and dining room shared between six units
3. Shared living room between two units, which can be used as neighbours agree: some may use this space as a shared study/library/workshop and others as a shared play/lounge area
4. Private micro-unit with bed and bathroom

The use of modern technology could be employed not only to allow the existing tenants to manage the site but also to place tenants with similar interests adjacent to one another so that they can more easily agree how the shared living room should be used. For example two jewellers, placed next to one another, may decide to use the living room as a jewellery workshop, while two sports enthuisasts may decide to set up a small gym in the room. This could be simply done through a dating-type app, which lists similar interests and personality traits.

Our proposal also aims to balance a disctinct, yet classic, architectural language that brings a coherence and identity to this new community whilst not dictating how the spaces are used and allowing for individual expression in furniture tastes and styles. Facades fronting onto shared rooms are more articulated, expressed with small curved balconies and sinuous stairs, while the private rooms are pared down to essentials.

An active wall between the private and communal spaces encourages interaction between the two. Windows and balconies look onto the shared spaces, providing natural surveillance and benches carved into the wall allow residents to sit on either side of it and speak through a window.

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