Gainsford Road

Affordable starter homes on a site with an Arts and Crafts legacy

The building's main elevation with a man walking past.
Archive photo of William Morris Technical School.
William Morris Technical School
Archive photo of William Morris Technical School.
William Morris Technical School

This project for Pocket Living provides 45 affordable one-bedroom homes for first-time buyers in Walthamstow, meeting the borough’s housing aspirations while making a lasting contribution to the area.

Built on the site of the former William Morris Technical School, the local area’s Arts and Crafts legacy and the collective living model of Warner houses provided rich design inspiration. We overcame the challenge of achieving high density within a low-rise context of typically two-storey terraced houses through a number of carefully considered moves, sensitively sculpting the building’s massing to create a composition articulated with a series of crafted decorative details.

Metal numbers and green-glazed tiles in the main entrance of Gainsford Road
Metal numbers and green-glazed tiles in the main entrance of Gainsford Road
Close-up of profiled red precast concrete tiles decorating the main entrance of Gainsford Road
Close-up of profiled red precast concrete tiles decorating the main entrance of Gainsford Road
Archive photo of entrance to a Warner house.
Photo showing Bob and Sylvia Agass in front of their home on Warner Road in 1971.
Paired green-painted entrance doors with a plaster-cast Warner plaque above.
Archive photo of entrance to a Warner house.
Photo showing Bob and Sylvia Agass in front of their home on Warner Road in 1971.
Paired green-painted entrance doors with a plaster-cast Warner plaque above.
Red and black checkerboard diamond tile pattern to a shared entrance at a Warner house.
Photo showing an area of herringbone pattern brickwork on the gable of a Warner house.
Red and black checkerboard diamond tile pattern to a shared entrance at a Warner house.
Photo showing an area of herringbone pattern brickwork on the gable of a Warner house.
A series of early massing options
A series of early massing options
A series of early massing options
A series of early massing options
Plan diagram showing how the proposed frontage aligns with existing neighbouring buildings
Sketch diagram showing how the proposed building massing relates with neighbouring buildings
Diagram showing how the proposed massing is informed by the existing building on the project site
Diagram showing how windows are regularly spaced on the street elevation
Diagram showing how the proposed shared garden is positioned at the heart of the site to receive ample sunlight
Diagram showing how architectural details of the building are influenced by local character
Sketch diagram showing how the building's main entrance should be emphasised
Diagram showing how Juliet balconies animate the street frontage
Sketch diagram showing well-designed front gardens on the street front
Design principles
Plan diagram showing how the proposed frontage aligns with existing neighbouring buildings
The proposed building line respects the existing street frontage and neighbouring buildings
Sketch diagram showing how the proposed building massing relates with neighbouring buildings
Articulate the form to create a relationship with the mass of a building on the street corner
Diagram showing how the proposed massing is informed by the existing building on the project site
Proposed massing extents follow those of the existing building
Diagram showing how windows are regularly spaced on the street elevation
A considered rhythm of generous and regularly spaced windows
Diagram showing how the proposed shared garden is positioned at the heart of the site to receive ample sunlight
A high-quality shared garden at the core of the scheme
Diagram showing how architectural details of the building are influenced by local character
An architecture influenced by local character
Sketch diagram showing how the building's main entrance should be emphasised
Emphasise the shared entrance
Diagram showing how Juliet balconies animate the street frontage
Juliet balconies animate the street frontage
Sketch diagram showing well-designed front gardens on the street front
Well-designed gardens on the street front

Gort Scott translated our brief into a very successful development which fitted well within its context. The specification of good value materials coupled with superior detailing created an interesting but budget-friendly building. The project exceeded our expectations… a very positive place to own a home.

Angharad Palmer, Head of Design, Pocket Living
Internal view of main entrance at Gainsford Road
Internal view of main entrance at Gainsford Road

Clear and open consultation during design development with both the planning department and local residents garnered support for our high-quality, Mayor’s Design Standard scheme. On a characterful yet unassuming residential street, the new apartment block responds positively to the streetscape by adding active frontage. At ground, an airy entrance offers a generous view through to a courtyard, while the tallest four-storey part of the building is adorned with a rooftop belvedere, giving it unexpected civic presence.

A gently inflected chevron informs a series of precast concrete elements that pick out these features animated by light and shadows that change throughout the day. Their colour matches that of the red brick and mortar to emphasise crisp, modern, sculptural qualities.

The new building steps down in height within a generous courtyard backing onto neighbouring houses.
Looking towards the building's main entrance from the courtyard, showing its stepped form.
The new building steps down in height within a generous courtyard backing onto neighbouring houses.
The building steps down in height within a generous residents’ courtyard with actively tended allotment planters.
Looking towards the building's main entrance from the courtyard, showing its stepped form.
In contrast to the more ornate street front, the rear elevations are deliberately pared back, with simple punched openings.
Close-up view showing precast concrete top floor belverdere, chevron-shaped lintels and brick slot detail.
Close-up view showing precast concrete top floor belverdere, chevron-shaped lintels and brick slot detail.

Efficient and functional layouts are augmented with a sense of community promoted through shared amenities. A large stairwell with benches at the base of an amply lit atrium serves as the main circulation space for chance encounters with neighbours. The courtyard garden provides communal seating areas and allotment planters that were adopted by residents soon after they moved in.

Further information

Data

Location
Walthamstow, London
Project type
Homes and mixed-use
Status
Completed 2018
Floor area
2914m2

Credits

Client
Pocket Living
Gort Scott Team
Jay Gort, Fiona Scott, Rebecca Stephens, Katrin Sölter, Andrew Tam, Amy Wong, James Powell, Alice Shepherd, Fraser Leach-Smith
Collaborators
Boyer (planning), WT Partnership (QS), Tully De’Ath (structures), XCO2 (building services), JCLA (landscape), JGA (fire), TPP (transport), 3cRisk (CDM)
Contractor
PDR Construction
Photography
Dirk Lindner

Awards

  • Brick Awards, Shortlisted
  • New London Awards Mayor’s Prize, Shortlisted
  • New London Awards Housing, Shortlisted
  • RICS London Awards, Shortlisted
  • AJ Housing Project of the Year, Shortlisted

Downloads and links

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