Up-and-coming developer Pocket has launched a design competition for a £822,500 community centre and nursery in Haringey, north London (Deadline: 5 July)
Aimed at design-led emerging practices, the contest seeks proposals for a low cost facility which will act as a landmark civic gateway to the firm’s West Green Place development.
Masterplanned by HTA Design with BD Landscape Architects, the low-rise scheme will create a mix of open market and Pocket homes next to Downhills Park.
The existing West Green Playgroup Nursery and Goan Community Centre which currently occupy the 0.74 hectare site will be replaced by the new 360m² competition-winning structure.
Pocket head of design Russ Edwards commented: ‘We’re very excited about this opportunity – for Pocket and the architect, it’s an opportunity to get on with a design, within a fantastic masterplan, in a great park setting, includes new public realm and play space, and it’s for real users.
‘This is an opportunity for Pocket to collaborate with the next generation – perhaps offering an emerging practice their first significant commission for a developer client.’
Founded in 2005, the developer specialises in innovative compact-homes aimed at London’s squeezed middle earners.
The units – which cost 20 per cent less than local equivalents – are only available to first-time buyers who either work or live in the local area with typical purchasers earning around £39,000-a-year.
Pocket currently has 15 live projects and recently received a £21.7 million loan from the Greater London Authority which it is planning to invest in 4,000 homes over the next ten years.
Last year the outfit ran a high-profile ideas contest to create a new compact layout for ‘two bedroom-two person’ apartments which are currently omitted from the mayor’s space standards.
Proposals for the West Green Place nursery should include a storytelling area, play space, store room, sleeping room, kitchen and toilets with an external patio measuring at least 200m². A multi-function hall, kitchenette and lift will also be required for the community centre.
Applications from firms which are less than five years old, feature up to ten team members are have annual turnovers below £1.5 million are ‘strongly encouraged’ by the client which has no formal restrictions on bidders.
Judges include Edwards, HTA partner Ben Derbyshire, Architecture Foundation director Ellis Woodman and Lyn Garner – director of place and sustainability at Haringey Council.
Up to eight shortlisted teams will be invited to participate in the design contest later this summer following an open expressions-of-interest round.
Participating firms will not be paid for the contest but the winning team will be commissioned to design and deliver the scheme and ‘required to start work imminently after announcement’, according to the developer.
How to apply
5pm local time on 5 July
14 Floral Street
Tel: 020 7291 3680
Visit the competition website for more information
Montpelier Community Nursery case study: Q&A with Anthony Boulanger and Yeoryia Manolopoulou
The partners of AY Architects discuss lessons learned designing a community nursery in Kentish Town
How did your Montpelier Community Nursery project respond to its context and users’ requirements?
The old nursery was run by the same committed team of carers for many years. They provided a rarely-found environment for children that was informal, yet exceptionally stable and warm in social terms. We tried to create a place that would enhance this home from home quality. For example, food preparation and eating together plays a central role in the space; spontaneous access to the garden and independent use of the different areas of the building are also important.
We worked closely with other parent volunteers to develop this project from initial fundraising to final realisation. Throughout the process we discussed how design matters for children, how it can influence their learning and overall development.
The building is characterized by a sense of openness and a neutrality that may allow the child’s imagination to flourish. It avoids being overprescribed to accommodate learning through free play. Its interior is coloured by the weather (through the roof windows spanning diagonally the plan and its large openings to the garden) rather than relying on pre-coloured and overtly particularised items.
Source: Image by Nick Kane
What considerations are important when designing a nursery and community building connecting to an existing green area?
The materials and construction techniques used should be carefully considered to minimise environmental impact and enhance the green surroundings as much as possible. In our project the design was sensitive to its location, yet we tried to give it a distinct character.
The building references its surroundings, allowing the children to view the sky, the treetops and rooftops of the neighboring houses. Achieving good levels of daylight and a seamless flow between inside and outside were central to the design. We wanted the interior of the building to feel almost as if it does not have a roof.
We also negotiated a land swap agreement and carefully located the building in such a way so that it created an entirely new area for community use on its south side. It was wonderful to see how Montpelier Gardens and the local playground were subsequently upgraded by the local council.
Source: Image by Nick Kane
Which material, structural and other techniques are available to architects seeking to achieve a similarly impressive piece of low cost civic architecture?
In this case we used cross-laminated timber but this might not be the best approach for other projects. In our practice we look at the possibilities of each project with an open mind, trying to create a design solution that is specific to its circumstances.
There is often the position that community architecture should be economic, humble, practical and participatory. While we applaud this view, we think that it is also important to surpass ticking these boxes and try to innovate in design terms. Low cost civic buildings can contribute to local communities but also thrive to contribute to the culture of architecture as an aesthetic discipline.
Source: Image by Nick Kane