for people.” But she stresses that good design should not be unaffordable: “My job is to make sure we have a planning framework that encourages growth without unnecessarily stifling it,” she says. “We’re open to innovative design, and to making sure that projects are commercial and deliverable.” Be First has, for example, commissioned an architect with extensive experience in off-site, modular construction to handle part of the Gascoigne Estate’s redevelopment. Linda Thiel, director of Scandinavian firm White Arkitekter’s London studio, explains that using modular components would cut time and money from the construction process, freeing up cash for “high quality materials in the key areas: the parks, courtyards and ground-floor frontages. It’s about trying to spend the money in the right place.”
The rebuilt Gascoigne Estate will provide up to 2,500 new homes, two schools and a medical centre, plus commercial retail space. Phase one of the eastern block – featuring more than 400 homes and the secondary school – is largely complete; and White has been allocated phase two, comprising 500 new homes and a park that abuts the town centre to the north. Homes will lie in four blocks, Thiel explains, including two with central courtyards providing communal gardens. Over 60% of homes will be classed as affordable – either ‘affordable rent’ or for shared ownership – “the design is tenureblind, mixing homes in each block”. The focus has been on allowing sunshine into the apartments, she adds: almost all have an open-plan living area, with dual aspect windows on two sides and a balcony, “so you have one big space with lots of light”.
But good design must recognise the everyday challenges of urban life – particularly when redeveloping an estate that has had high levels of crime and deprivation in the past. So ground-floor retail and commercial
Pictured: A House for Artists (left); Linda Thiel (above); projections for the Gascoigne Estate (below).
The first rebranded issue of BOLD magazine looks at the transformation of Barking and Dagenham over the last decade, into one of the capital...