Proctor urban peripheries: & Matthews narratives of Architects time and place
The evolving city fringe
As a consequence of rapid economic expansion, aÂ number of British urban centres are experiencing exponential population growth manifested in the form of large city edge developments with increased densities. The challenge is toÂ respond to such growth without adding to the ubiquitous characteristics of suburban sprawl. This publication presents projects undertaken by Proctor and Matthews Architects over the last two years, located on the periphery of London, Cambridge and Canterbury.
A number of challenges to sustainable development have arisen; these include the protection of green belt areas, the delivery of adequate affordable housing, provision of housing for an increasingly diverse society and building for a rapidly evolving economic, social and urban context. In order to achieve national government targets for new housing, local councils are ever more confronted with approving development proposals for increased densities, until now, unforeseen in urban fringe zones. These create conditions and opportunities that are distinctly different from the historic morphology of lower density suburban developments. As architects tasked with designing a number of new peripheral zone neighbourhoods, our challenge is to create strategies and narratives that assist in guiding sensitive responses to edge conditions; a mediation between rural and urban landscapes and the flexible armature for 21st Century living. By focussing on four different neighbourhood projects, South Thamesmead, Ridgeway Village, Abode at Great Kneighton and Mountfield Park, we outline our specific approach to the design of urban edge sites. Each are placed within their wider economic, social, historical and physical contexts, leading to design explorations and the creation of a strong â€˜Narrative ofÂ Place.â€™ Taken from the perspective of the resident or visitor, each new neighbourhood unfolds through a sequence of consciously curated spaces and design details that link each site back to its wider urban and/or rural context.
Despite distinctly different local character and geographical size, London, Cambridge and Canterbury are experiencing exponential economic and population growth. A large number of residential developments on their urban peripheries are currently under construction in an attempt to meet the increasing demand for new housing. Statistics provided by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) demonstrate steep increases in the density of habitants per hectare over recent years. Population increase between 2003 and 2013 (source: Office for National Statistics) Percentage increase
Examples of growing cities In London, GLA funded Housing Zones, Opportunity and Intensification Areas have been recently introduced to unlock development opportunities within the capital and expedite housing delivery. In an attempt to protect the city’s green belt, the majority of selected areas are situated in the outer boroughs on brownfield sites. South Thamesmead, spanning the boundary of the two Outer London Boroughs of Greenwich and Bexley, was awarded a Housing Zone grant in early 2015, proffering a development opportunity to deliver approximately 1,500 new homes. Supported by its proximity to Abbey Wood Station and the new emerging Crossrail services, the site offers a unique opportunity for increases in housing density and improved social and commercial infrastructure. Proctor and Matthews Architects have worked with Mecanoo Architecten of Delft to provide a Masterplan for South Thamesmead, connecting Abbey Wood to Southmere Lake. In recent years, Cambridge has become one of the top five fastest growing cities in the UK. Supported by the town’s growing knowledge-based industries and the consequential increasing demand for housing, the local government’s strategic expansion plan has encouraged a number of large-scale new neighbourhood development opportunities for over 20,000 new homes. The majority of these sites are located on the city’s urban fringe. Two of these developments are North West Cambridge and Great Kneighton, where Proctor and Matthews have designed new residential neighbourhoods as part of wider masterplan expansion frameworks.
Statistics also demonstrate a significant economic and population growth in Canterbury over recent years. A large masterplan proposed in the town’s south-east periphery proposes to deliver 4,000 new homes and associated mixed-use infrastructure. The masterplan aims to not only improve housing variety for its current population, but also to help stimulate further economic growth for the region. Proctor and Matthews has been commissioned to design a neighbourhood quarter of around 250 homes situated in the north-east section of the wider masterplan and adjacent to the town’s current built edge. 1
1: South Thamesmead, London, Masterplan by Proctor and Matthews Architects and Mecanoo Architecten 2: North West Cambridge Development, Masterplan by AECOM 3: Great Kneighton, Cambridge, Masterplan by PRP with Abode Masterplan by Proctor and Matthews Architects shown in red 4: Mountfield Park, Canterbury, Illustrative Masterplan by David Lock Associates
A strong sense of place Despite each neighbourhood’s peripheral location, a relationship is established and strengthened with its urban centre, creating a distinct and recognisable quality that is unique to the identity of each city. This approach aims to create a neighbourhood that can be read as an extension of the centre, a continuation of the existing urban fabric, rather than an anonymous place in isolation.
London responding to the landscape South Thamesmead is situated within the Plumstead and Erith Marshlands on the banks of The Thames. Historically the region was subject to severe flooding; however, in recent times flood barriers and a vast network of lakes and canals have alleviated this risk. Rather than viewing this as a design constraint, we see this aspect as an opportunity to enhance the neighbourhood’s relationship with The Thames, the ‘spine’ that connects the marshlands to London’s urban centre. The proposed design for the public realm includes landscape elements that feed into the natural water attenuation system; rain gardens, water channels, canals and ephemeral pools that connect Southmere Lake with Abbey Wood Station. This will help to create a place that builds upon and enhances the neighbourhood’s relationship with water and the historic marshland landscape. Hertfordshire
1: A landscape rill Ealing 2: Introducing water to the public realm 3: Historic map of Thamesmead Marshlands (1801) Windsor 4: Thamesmead location and Hounslow 5: View along the proposed Southmere Lane Maidenhead with water elements
Barking & Dagenham
Hammersmith & Fulham
City of LONDON
City of Westminster
Kensington & Chelsea Southwark Greenwich
Richmond upon Thames
Merton Kingston upon Thames
Cambridge adopting townscape elements Surrey
In reference to the typical formal layout of Cambridge colleges, a ‘Great Court’ is embedded at the entrance of the new neighbourhood of Great Kneighton. Consisting of two residential ‘gatehouse’ buildings contained within a clearly defined built square, the scale and form of these buildings and landscape not only absorbs the existing infrastructure, but also provides a strong defined threshold to the new neighbourhood.
1: Historic map of Cambridge with collegiate courts 2: Trinity College Cambridge 3: The Great Court at the centre of the
Cambridge following the historic pattern ‘The Ridgeway’ is an ancient route reinforced within the North West Cambridge Masterplan that links a number of historic settlements beginning in Cambridge stretching all the way to Willingham. Our design introduces a new Ridgeway Village reinforcing this pattern of settlements and its relationship to the centre of Cambridge.
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1: Historical development of the Ridgeway Villages 2: Cambridge ‘landscape structure’ 3: Aerial view of the proposed new Ridgeway Village
Canterbury creating visual links One of the most memorable features of the site for the new Mountfield neighbourhood is the dramatic and iconic view of the tower of Canterbury Cathedral – Bell Harry. A structured viewpoint of the Cathedral is proposed for residents and visitors within the site in order to provide a distinctive address and narrative for the Mountfield Park development. 1
1: Views towards the Cathedral. 2: Historical map of Canterbury 1588. 3: View to Bell Harry from Mountfield Park
Adding to the local narrative
In order to establish a new residential neighbourhood our work focuses on an exploration of ‘identity’. With this in mind, it is important that proposals respond to local context and historic morphology. Analysis of the local and historic context is used to inform the proposed built configuration and townscape composition for each site. This design approach is used as a tool that not only weaves the proposed scheme seamlessly into its existing surroundings, but also reconciles the intersection between rural and built environments. The desire is to create a new neighbourhood with a distinctive character and identity that evolves from the immediate environmental, social and cultural contexts of the site.
South Thamesmead Bexley repairing spatially fragmented neighbourhoods Thamesmead is characterised by its abundance of local green open spaces and water structures, some of which intertwine with the area’s local history such as the ruins of Lesnes Abbey and Park. The W arrangement of maisonettes and raised walkways of the former 1960/70s neighbourhood estates neglected the importance of pedestrian connections and spatial permeability across the neighbourhood. Our proposals for South Thamesmead offer a revised network of pedestrian and vehicle routes that prioritise and strengthen new built form connections with the surrounding landscapes and neighbourhoods. Each route is strategically placed to connect with other severed routes in order to maximise permeability throughout the wider locality. A ‘meandering’ lane – a reference to historic marshland routes – links Abbey Wood Station to Southmere Lake and beyond, not only providing a new promenade for the neighbourhood, but also re-establishing the Lake as the focal point of the scheme. This is supported by a series of public spaces, including a new Civic lakeside Square, animated by commercial activities, a new Library and social facilities.
Abode at Great Kneighton Cambridge a Fenland settlement and collegiate court morphology South Cambridge is characterised by villages offering a morphology of strong linear ladders of built form and landscape configured in a perpendicular arrangement to the principal village street. This historic fabric first established by the field patterns have incrementally become occupied by simple pitched roof dwellings and productive yards resulting in a rich tapestry of land uses. This woven pattern of built grain and landscape threads has inspired our design for the more informal arrangement of townhouses nestled on the settlement edge. This acts as a counterpoint to the structured arrangement of the ‘Great Court’. A series of landscape ribbons weave in between the dwellings creating a gradual transition between the formal urbanity of the Great Court, to the loose informality of the rural edge. 1
1: Abode at Great Kneighton Masterplan 2: Grain of typical Cambridgeshire village 3: Landscape ribbons/green lanes 4: Abode at Great Kneighton model
1: Connections to the surrounding landscape 2: Meandering route from station to lake 3: Sketch of the Central Square by TurkingtonÂ Martin 4: Aerial view of the overarching South Thamesmead development
Ridgeway Village North West Cambridge an archaeological palimpsest Recent archaeological discoveries within the North West Cambridge site reveal a long history of habitation along the Ridgeway. Mid-Bronze Age earth works, Roman farmsteads and field enclosures, together with the rediscovery of the lost Medieval hamlet of Howe’s, provide a rich historical palimpsest and context to inspire the design for this site. This narrative provides the inspiration for a collection of residential courtyard clusters. Their proposed arrangement across the site is influenced by the distinctive configurations of archaeological earthworks that lie beneath the surface. Overlaying the orthogonal geometry of the masterplan onto the twisted grid of historical earth works, generates a rich townscape of irregular street widths and focal points at the heart of the site and provides a strong character to this Ridgeway Village quarter. 1
1: Local archeology 2: Neighbourhood grain informed by the local archeology 3: The Ridgeway Village masterplan 4: A lineage of historic/archaeological typologies 5–7: Local geology and landscape patterns
Mountfield Park South Canterbury productive landscape structures The landscape surrounding Canterbury can be characterised by the orthogonal gridded ‘patchwork’ of productive farmland – hop fields and fruit orchards. This distinctive geometry of shelterbelts and repetitive rows of fruit trees organises the landscape in a structured manner and helps to define the character and identity of the immediate context. The four existing orchards to the south east of the site (which abut the adjacent New Dover Road) exhibit this distinctive grid and shelterbelt form and are cross-referenced as a generator and inspiration for the proposed built form of five new residential courtyard clusters of family homes defining an edge to the historic principal route into Canterbury from the south. 1
1: Concept cartoon of residential cluster 2: Sketch of the Mountfield Phase 1 masterplan 3: Phase 1A cluster plan 4–6: Local field patterns and orchards
The proposed Southmere Lane meanders across the existing urban grid, forming an enlivened sequence of streets, squares and active frontages improving the sense of place, whilst offering a safe logical route for cyclists and pedestrians.
South Thamesmead South East London Proctor and Matthews Architects have led a design team including architects Mecanoo and landscape architects Turkington Martin to develop plans for an ambitious regeneration of Thamesmead. The project will deliver affordable homes, new jobs, and improved transport links including Crossrail, while repairing the spatially fragmented earlier interventions to encourage the development of a more cohesive neighbourhood. From Abbey Wood Station in the south, to Southmere Lake in the north, the masterplan creates an active linear focus to the neighbourhood – Southmere Lane – and will include over 1,500 new homes, new public spaces and around 10,000 square metres of commercial, retail and leisure space. The plan readdresses the role of Harrow Manorway – a major road that currently presents a physical barrier on the boundary between the London Boroughs of Bexley and Greenwich.
1: Diagrammatic plan of the first phase of development around a new central square 2: Library concept as water clock tower 3: New library building within the Central Square 4: View of Southmere Lane 5: View of Central Square from the lake 6: Aerial view over the new Central Square and library 7: Residential ensemble concept diagram 8: View of Podium garden
The plans include detailed proposals for a new civic quarter as the first phase of the masterplan. This will contain 525 mixed-tenure homes alongside a library and commercial facilities around a new public square, changing perceptions of Thamesmead by creating a significantly improved built environment and public realm.
No. of units: Density:
Tenure mix: Client:
Local authority: Project status: Project type:
London 9.86 Ha 525 at detailed design, 979 at outline 139 dph 45% affordable, 55% private Peabody Trust Proctor and Matthews Architects (Design Team Leader), Mecanoo Architecten, Turkington Martin, Peter Brett Associates, Max Fordham, Silver, CBRE, Savills London Borough of Bexley
Key narrative In a reinterpretation of the late 19th Century Peabody ‘mansion’ block, clusters of connected (yet differently sized) residential blocks will be grouped around raised shared courtyards to form ‘ensembles’. These create smaller communities within the larger whole and are enlivened by active street frontages with a mix of uses. Ground level courtyard threshold spaces that animate street frontages, provide residential entrances and glimpses from the street into the podium gardens above. The ‘ensembles’ define the new square. While each has its own distinctive character, they are tied together through a uniform façade articulation. A double height colonnade activates the square at ground level with shops and cafés.
Current planning application A mixed use scheme of retail, office and residential accommodation, a library, community facilities and various open green spaces
Proctor and Matthews has also created a new civic building, housing Thamesmead library, a nursery and gym facilities, to act as a social hub and the compositional focal point within the square. A three-dimensional triangular form tapers from a single storey at the lake edge, rising to five storeys in response to the buildings surrounding the square. Its principal elevation is punctuated by a water clock campanile, extending the inherent aquatic theme of Thamesmead and forming an important townscape marker.
Abode at Great Kneighton Cambridge Abode at Great Kneighton forms part of a major new housing and mixed use community in the Cambridge southern fringe growth area. The overall development will provide around 2,270 new homes, extensive open space, education, sports and recreation, health and community and local shopping facilities. Proctor and Matthews Architects has designed two phases, totalling 444 houses and apartments. The masterplan includes a new neighbourhood centre at the heart of the development. This will provide a mixed-use focus, including community amenities, local retail facilities and public transport connections.
Relaxed green lanes
Rural edge and plantation boundary
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1: Formal arrival marker building within the Great Court 2: Formal arrival: a colonnade gives a sense of rhythm to the Great court 3: Relaxed green lanes: gabled houses with shared green spaces at the edge of the neighbourhood 4: Formal arrival: routes to the mews beyond 5: Structured mews: varied mews scale and frame entrances to Green Lanes 6: Concept cartoon of the narrative sequence through the neighbourhood
Cambridge 9.92 Ha
No. of units:
308 in phase 1 and 136 in phase 2 (60% family homes, 40% apartments)
Tenure mix: Client:
40% affordable, 60% private Countryside Properties Ltd.
Proctor and Matthews Architects (Design Team Leader), Ramboll, BBUK Landscape Architects, Townshend Landscape Architects
Cambridge City Council
Phase 1 completed, phase 2 in construction
Houses and apartments within a masterplan of retail and community facilities, a school and open parkland
Key narrative The design consists of a hierarchy of spaces and housing types to suit the transition from urban to rural. This gives form to the existing infrastructure and a sense of arrival at the entrance to the neighbourhood, before moving sequentially towards a more relaxed morphology that addresses the adjacent countryside. At the entrance to the scheme stand two apartment marker ‘gatehouses’ set within a formal and structured court – a reference to the urban form of Cambridge colleges. Together with new landscaping, the large formal ‘Great Court’, (with proportions and scale referencing that of Trinity College) visually absorbs the existing highways infrastructure and provides a suitable gateway to the new neighbourhood. Beyond the Great Court is a series of mews terraces. The use of brick here echoes the Great Court, while their more modest scale provides a sense of transition. Each house in the mews has a ground level rear garden space with a raised courtyard terrace at first floor. A series of parallel green connecting lanes run perpendicular to the mews terraces, creating pleasant shared spaces between the houses. These ‘landscape ribbons’ also provide a linear route through the development, connecting the formal landscape of the Great Court to the plantation and open countryside at the neighbourhood edge.
A further transition takes place at the rear of the site, where black timbered dwellings (a reference to local agricultural typologies) establish loose clusters of smaller two and three storey homes. The ‘Green Lanes’ quarter seeks to create a village atmosphere, and provides a range of two to five bedroom homes for both private and affordable tenures. The houses sit within private walled gardens and generously-planted shared spaces. Compared with the strong urban language of the Great Court, the aim here is to achieve a less visually structured rural edge.
Ridgeway Village North West Cambridge The ‘Ridgeway Village’ sits within the University’s North West Cambridge masterplan and contains 148 dwellings ranging from five bedroom family houses to one bedroom apartments. The design explores a new sustainable urban family lifestyle and creates a neighbourhood that can adapt to the changing needs of its residents. Environmental sustainability is essential and the scheme is designed to achieve requirements set out in Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5 (2007–2015).
Divided into two distinctive character areas, the southern grain consists of perimeter ‘walled cluster housing’, a range of apartments and maisonettes. Configured with private walled courtyard gardens and roof top terraces, each house is arranged around a central court – a semi-private/ communal space for parking and neighbourly interaction. To the north, larger family courtyard homes define a public realm of ‘ambles’ and lanes. The rich mix of residential typologies supports this spatial hierarchy of ‘Village Ambles’, streets, mews, courts and intimate pedestrian lanes across both character areas. The majority of the houses are designed for family living and the plans provide for a number of spatial arrangements offering opportunities for home working and flexibility over time.
No. of units: Density: Client:
Cambridge 3.8 Ha 14 8 36 dph and 63 dph Countryside Properties Ltd. Proctor and Matthews Architects (Design Team Leader), Camlins Landscape Architects, Aecom, Kaizenge, Ramboll, Environ
South Cambridgeshire District Council
A mix of courtyard houses and apartments within a wider masterplan which includes key worker and student housing, retail, community and education facilities, and a mix of open green spaces
Key narrative The site lies across two distinctive geological strata: the ‘gault mudstone’ layer and a seam of clay, silt, sand and gravel deposits running across the northern corner of the site to Girton Village. This underpins a materials strategy creating a transition from a predominantly Cambridge gault brick (grey/buff) along the village amble to the more red hues of Girton College’s distinctive stone and red brick buildings to the north. Archaeological investigations have revealed a rich history along the Ridgeway. Evidence of mid Bronze Age, Roman and Medieval settlements have been identified. These are particularly noticeable in the archaeological data mapping which shows a Roman track crossing the site. A distinctive grid of ‘enclosures’ and ‘tracks’, establishes an intriguing geometry. Overlaying the orthogonal geometry of the masterplan onto the twisted grid of historical earthworks generates a rich townscape of irregular street widths and focal points. ‘Revealing’ the pattern of earthworks within the landscape design of the central ‘Village Amble’ gives this local space a unique identity and focus. The contemporary architectural language is influenced by the vertical rhythms of medieval architecture – half timbered buildings and the diminishing grids of Gothic tracery windows seen in many of Cambridge’s colleges.
1, 5: East street elevation, showing the southern townhouse clusters and the palazzo apartments 2: Pocket park termination to central amble 3: View of frontage to neighbourhood green 4: The central amble
Mountfield Park South Canterbury On the southern edge of Canterbury, this 140 unit scheme is the first development phase of Mountfield Park – a major urban extension to the city. The proposals develop a concept for a 21st Century Garden City. Alongside up to 4,000 homes, the neighbourhood will also contain new healthcare, education, business and leisure facilities on the south-eastern fringe of Canterbury.
A close study of nearby courtyard farms and existing landscape – dominated by a grid of hop fields, fruit orchards and planted shelter belts – has informed the design approach. The development is arranged as five distinct residential clusters, each a series of courts configured as an assembly of interconnected houses with an orchard landscape focus at the heart of each grouping. In response to the site’s undulating topography, the clusters are arranged as a series of stepped terraces. A significant townscape marker of apartments announces the entrance to a proposed new country park. The scheme offers a broad mix of housing typologies with space standards exceeding those of national guidelines. Houses are arranged around the perimeter of each cluster, with private courtyards or walled gardens. Taller apartment buildings give form and scale to principal urban spaces. The majority of the public realm within the five hectare development is designed as a shared surface, creating safe environments for families and children.
No. of units: Density: Client:
Canterbury 5.0 Ha 14 0 33 dph Corinthian Mountfield Ltd.
Proctor and Matthews Architects (Design Team Leader), Turkington Martin, David Lock Associates (Masterplanners), Lloydbore, RGP, WSP
Canterbury City Council
Project status: Project type:
Planning A design framework for 250 homes, with an initial sub-phase detailed design of 140 houses, apartments and a spatial strategy to include future mixed uses
Key narrative One of the most distinctive features of the site is the undulating topography and the dramatic view of the bell tower of Canterbury Cathedral. This view has been protected to maintain a clear visual connection between Canterbury’s newest quarter and its historic core. Courtyard clusters of family homes are configured to echo the gridded productive landscapes of the surrounding countryside. With reference to local Kent village vernacular architecture, each cluster is contained within a red brick perimeter wall incorporating gables, chimneys and perforated brick panels, providing a distinctive profile to the neighbourhood streetscape.
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1: View of courtyard cluster orchard 2: Pedestrian route from the New Dover Road 3: Aerial view of courtyard cluster 4: Axial view towards Canterbury Cathedral 5: Rural cluster precedents: Chilam 6: Asymmetric roof forms: a local vernacular in Patrixbourne 7: View of New Dover Road frontage 8: Site section showing the residential clusters with perimeter walls stepping up in terraces
Proctor & Matthews Architects 7 Blue Lion Place 237 Long Lane London SE1 4PU +44 (0)20 7378 6695 www.proctorandmatthews.com Cover image: Skyedge Sheffield (concept sketch) Brochure design: Jannuzzi Smith
As a consequence of rapid economic expansion, a number of British urban centres are experiencing exponential population growth manifested in...
Published on Jul 7, 2017
As a consequence of rapid economic expansion, a number of British urban centres are experiencing exponential population growth manifested in...