Unity Place

Residential masterplan to frame a neighbourhood park

Gort Scott were commissioned by Brent Council, with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Alison Brooks Architects, to design a residential-led masterplan as part of the South Kilburn Estate Regeneration Programme.

Commissioned in 2013, the development provides 235 bright and spacious homes in a cluster of mansion blocks arranged around planted courtyards.

The masterplan establishes a new public park framed by the new buildings and Grade I listed St Augustine’s Church, a landmark recognised for its architectural heritage and social role in the community, providing play space and a pedestrian route through the heart of the site. This re-establishes a historic street, activating the site where the previous urban design made it impermeable and prone to antisocial behaviour. The new park and courtyards are seen as part of a wider north-south sequence of green spaces from Cambridge Gardens to Carlton Vale.

The scheme was designed as a tenure-blind, mixed-tenure scheme, including market sale units. GLA funding has enabled Brent Council to retain 100% of the units as social housing, aimed specifically at existing residents of the borough.

We led a robust engagement process with the existing residents throughout design development. For example, consultation with the significant South Asian community informed the way some of the living spaces in the apartments were designed to meet cultural requirements.

Within this masterplan, we have designed the buildings which face onto the new public park and onto Cambridge Road at the southern edge of the site, including a significant six-storey residential block with 50 units, with parking relocated underground in a shared basement with other buildings in the same cluster.

The elevations have an ordered rhythm and the precast concrete vertical elements on the upper two levels of the building reflect the stone detailing on St Augustine’s Church.

View from Cambridge Road towards St Augustine’s Church

Wide entrances to the new residential block can be clearly identified from the street. They form a physical and visual link through to the shared, private garden courtyard beyond. Along Cambridge Road, balconies are recessed to increase privacy for residents and to complement flat-fronted, street-facing buildings in the neighbourhood, such as those along Princess Road.

Connected communal gardens

The design teams collaborated closely to create buildings which significantly improve the internal living conditions for many existing residents while also enhancing the physical and residential environment of the neighbourhood, integrating the estate into the South Kilburn street plan.

Emma Sweeney, Estates Regeneration Programme Manager, Brent Council

Most of the homes at Unity Place are dual aspect to optimise natural cross ventilation and provide safe overlooking to the communal gardens. The scheme features an underground energy centre to enable a site-wide combined heat and power (CHP) system, which is supported with green roofs, a high-performance envelope and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) to reduce heat loss and energy consumption.

The building and envelope have been designed to reduce energy demand; we have made use of low-maintenance, high-quality materials that are long-lasting and robust.

High-quality materials were specified for architectural longevity

Further information

Data

Location
Kilburn, London
Project type
Homes and mixed-use
Budget
£75.5 million (construction cost all blocks)
Status
Built
Floor area
26964m2

Credits

Client
London Borough of Brent
Gort Scott Team
Jay Gort, Fiona Scott, Andrew Tam, Susie Hyden, Rebecca Stephens
Collaborators
Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios, Alison Brooks Architects, Grant Associates
Consultants
Grant Associates (Landscape), RM_A (Executive Architect), Buro Happold (Structural engineer and M&E), Telford Homes (Contractor)
Photographer
Paul Riddle

Awards

  • World Architecture Festival Awards - Best Housing of the Year, shortlisted
  • British Home Awards - Best Housing Partnership, shortlisted
  • Housing Design Awards, shortlisted

Downloads and links

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