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Caxton

Bow Common

2018 - present

This brownfield site is being transformed into publicly accessible place that offers multi-generational and recreational opportunities for the whole community.

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This brownfield site is being transformed into publicly accessible place that offers multi-generational and recreational opportunities for the whole community.
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Strategy

Located in Tower Hamlets, east London, our site was originally arable land before becoming home to a gasworks centre in 1850, engineered by Alexander Croll. Over the years, technological advancements meant these gasholders became redundant, with the majority demolished in 1982, and the last two in 2017. Working for client St William - a joint venture between the Berkeley Group and National Grid - we intend to evoke the memory of these structures through our designs for Bow Common Gasworks - a new neighbourhood where a reflected industrial past meets nature in an urban context.

Location:
London, UK
Client:
St William
Role:
Urban Designer, Architect and Landscape Architect
Status:
Planning Submitted
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The original gasworks site
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Our framework is centred on the formation of a new, ecologically driven 1 hectare park, in a landscape-first design approach. The proposals allow the wider community to reconnect with grounds that have been closed off from the public for over 150 years, and extends to the surrounding green infrastructure, including Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. The new environment creates opportunity for interconnected public open space, living, working, learning and playing, with circa 1,200 market and affordable homes, and a new sixth form centre. We’re also reinstating 120 Bow Common Lane, the former gasworks office and laboratory building, which will become a flexible commercial, retail and workspace hub with public open yard.

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In addition to authoring the urban design and landscape design framework for Bow Common Gasworks, we’ve untaken the detailed design of the first phase including 253 market and affordable homes, and over 8,000sqft of flexible space for resident’s facilities, commercial, retail and workspace, and the beginnings of Bow Common, the new 1 hectare public park.
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Here, the versatile open space accommodates exhibitions, outdoor performances and markets, allowing us to regenerate a brownfield site into a publicly accessible place that offers multigenerational and recreational opportunities for the whole community.
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Specificity

The site of Bow Common Gasworks holds a rich history of varied architectural typologies, from the form of the gasholders themselves, to the surrounding buildings designed to support the gas processing and administration of the works. It is this past that has led to our two key building typologies: Croll and Retort. A cluster of 3 of the latter typology comprise Phase 1 of the development, connected by a podium which provides a first floor shared amenity garden for residents. In between the blocks, additional 1 - 3 storey homes are proposed, with these link buildings offering front doors that are accessed directly from the ground level, each containing a front garden, and helping to create a sense of community and place.

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As the Phase 1 form and orientation of the masterplan developed, so did the strategy for arrangement of window and door openings, façade articulation, detailing, and balcony arrangement within the architectural composition and treatment. Each building has been designed with a unique character to accentuate its specific setting within the masterplan, and to celebrate their connection to the ground level landscape, as well as relationship to Bow Common and the wider neighbourhood. Brick is the predominant material, a reference to the industrial heritage of the site, and the variation in the volumes of buildings, and the way in which they meet the sky, create a dynamic roofscape, contributing to a distinctive sense of place.

Situated on the primary street elevation, Bow Yard provides an active “gateway” for mixed-use accommodation. It interfaces the commercial uses of the refurbished 120 Bow Common Lane and the new Sixth Form Centre. The area is similar to Bow Common in its provision of versatile open space, accommodatimg exhibitions, outdoor performances and markets, but it contrasts to Bow Common in its sympathetic palette of material to convey the site’s history.

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Sustainability

Over a twelve month process, the development of the scheme design has evolved significantly through a number of meetings, workshops, exhibitions and consultations with numerous key consultants, design team members and stakeholders, as well as local resident and community groups to understand their aspirations for the site. Their feedback has helped shape the proposals, opening it up to the public through new green spaces and bringing together new and existing communities.

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We’ve also coordinated closely with London Wildlife Trust to achieve a measurable net gain to biodiversity, with the site enhancement measures and ecological typologies developed in tandem with the landscape design to ensure a cohesive and integrated approach. The landscape and ecological design offers a wealth of opportunity for residents and the local community to gain greater access to wildlife and habitat creation. This is reinforced by an emphasis on ‘play’, and we have designed a sensory landscape that connects with nature and provides appropriate spaces that meet the needs of a range of ages and abilities.

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