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Caxton

Caxton Works

2014 - 2018

Homes and light industry are brought together, encouraging trade, creating employment, nurturing the local economy, and supporting small and local makers.

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Homes and light industry are brought together, encouraging trade, creating employment, nurturing the local economy, and supporting small and local makers.
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Strategy

In London, over the last decade or so, many of the small industries that are essential to keeping the capital going have been pushed out because the land they occupy is wanted for housing. There is now a shortage of affordable space for small businesses, workshops and artists’ studios, and we believe that new communities should be providing places for people to work as well as to live.

Location:
London, UK
Client:
U+I Group Plc
Galliard Homes
Role:
Urban Designer, Architect and Public Realm Designer
Status:
Completed 2018
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Caxton Works, for Galliard Homes and U+I, is the first completed co-location scheme in London and seeks to reverse the trend. This used to be a thriving industrial landscape at the heart of Canning Town in east London – an area servicing The Royal Docks and home to local artisans and dockers.
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As the urban designers and architects, as well as the landscape architects for the ground level, we’re combining 336 homes with a range of flexible and affordable light-industry units to create a genuinely mixed-use and self-sustaining place. We’re embracing densification and regenerating the landscape in a way that fits with its thriving, industrial past.

Specificity

The architectural language is led by the industrial nature of the existing context, and a visually strong ground and first floor keeps the focus on the employment uses at low level. A warm-hued weathered steel is complemented by moments of glazing and timber joinery for doors and windows.

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The residential floors sit above the work units. Low-rise buildings help to blend the massing with the contextual fabric, while four taller buildings allow for higher density and express their presence with a distinctive scalloped skyline. These residential blocks have been configured to provide the vast majority of homes with dual or corner aspect orientation.
Rather than driving small-scale or even large-scale businesses out of the centre, the vitality can be designed back in.”
David West
Founding Director at Studio Egret West
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We’ve reinstated Hoy Street, which runs between the buildings, as a ‘pedestrian first’ working alley with areas for loading and unloading. It functions as a market-style, community-orientated street where the workshops have a strong and positive presence, and it ties the buildings – and this new neighbourhood – together. A larger-than-life sign bearing the words ‘Caxton Works’ proudly welcomes people into the street.
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The workspaces are inherently flexible, and we’ve provided a range of unit sizes so that as businesses grow they can move to a larger unit within Caxton Works. We want businesses to put down roots here, and the opportunity to grow within the development is key to its long-term success.

Sustainability

From the very beginning we’ve focused on the importance of creating a sense of place. While still at the design stage, we offered House of Fairy Tales, a national children’s arts charity, the chance to move into a disused warehouse on the site. They worked with local schools and arts-based organisations in the wider community, hosted exhibitions and workshops, and kickstarted the sense of belonging and engagement which we knew would be fundamental to a sense of community.

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Caxton Works is a sustainable ‘place’ that goes beyond the usual environmental credentials. It’s about bringing homes and light industry together, encouraging trade, creating employment, nurturing the local economy, and supporting small and local makers. The first commercial tenant to move in was Bamboo Bicycle Club, and since then we’ve seen a healthy mix of different businesses arrive, settle and become part of the community. Caxton Works already has all the makings of a flexible, resilient neighbourhood.

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