The unused backland site is transformed into eight affordable rent homes for Croydon Council. The units are contained within a multi-faceted building where forms weave in and out in response to the narrow site, allowing for a design that ensures privacy for nearby residents while engendering a sense of community within the development.
“How do you responsibly and respectfully densify the suburbs, when the only land available consists of small infill sites that are too awkward to attract traditional developers? …Coldharbour Road, designed by young female architects vPPR is one such project, comprising eight shared-ownership homes on a tight backland garage site. The perceived mass of the development is broken down by pulling the facade in and out to form a playful profile, creating porches and terraces in the process.”
Oliver Wainwright, The Guardian
Idlewild Mews is an affordable rent housing development just off Purley Way in South Croydon. Eight flats are contained within a multi-faceted building where forms weave in and out in response to the narrow site. The volumetric design ensures privacy for nearby residents while engendering a sense of community within the development. Its characterful shape and materiality provides a sense of identity for the homes and yet these are clear references to the built landscape. The mews scheme occupies a former garage site and is completely surrounded by existing houses, with glimpses of the new project appearing from across gardens and over fences.
A narrow pathway leads to the front of the homes where the volumes have been alternately pushed back to create covered entrances on the ground floor and terraces on the first floor that provide occupants with precious outdoor space. These are inward focused to prevent overlooking and can be accessed directly from living rooms and bedrooms, bringing light and air into the upper level of the residences. The terraces are wrapped in folded metal balustrades adding to a sense of light and shadow, and include in-built planters that act as an additional buffer zone.
A chequerboard pattern of different colours of brick adorn the exterior of the building further breaking down the perceived mass of the overall building. The bricks were inspired by the tonal palette of neighbouring properties and ensure that the contemporary architecture fits comfortably into its surroundings. A diamond pattern running along the access way breaks down its length and a change in colour outside the front doors demarcates a small shared space. Featuring benches opposite the main building, it is hoped that this simple hard landscape will encourage dwell time and conversations between residents.
Little moments of communality will help to reinforce a sense of community in the homes, which can be achieved through design on a modest budget.