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Erith

Erith

2014 - Present

Our approach is founded upon the ecological and geographical benefits of the site; we've explored every possibility to connect with the landscape and make the whole site easily accessible and enjoyable by all.

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Our approach is founded upon the ecological and geographical benefits of the site; we've explored every possibility to connect with the landscape and make the whole site easily accessible and enjoyable by all.
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Strategy

Erith Quarry in Bexley, south-east London, has found a new purpose. It had long been considered unsuitable for development but is only 40 minutes by train from central London. As masterplanners, architects and landscape architects, working in partnership with developers Anderson, we’re creating a whole new neighbourhood, which includes a three-form primary school, 650 new homes and a new ecological park.

Location:
London, UK
Client:
Anderson Group
L&Q
Role:
Urban Designer, Architect and Landscape Architect
Status:
On site
Collaborators:
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The disused quarry.
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Our masterplan vision for Erith.
The school – which wasn’t part of the original brief – sits at the highest, most prominent point of Erith Quarry and becomes the focal point of the emerging community.
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Our masterplan is founded upon the ecological and geographical benefits of the site, and we saw the topography as an opportunity rather than a constraint. We’ve explored every possibility to connect with the landscape and make the whole site easily accessible and enjoyable by all.

Specificity

The school’s pure circular footprint is embedded into the landscape, elevated above terraced communal spaces. The circular shape maximises natural daylight and ventilation, and provides flexibility of space that will allow a wide curriculum of teaching areas, multipurpose halls, and a music and drama studio. It also provides space for a central, external courtyard, which creates a secure sanctuary for both play and outdoor learning.

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The school building is designed with concrete, timber and glass as the principle materials. These have a strong relationship with the historic context of the quarry and the existing woodland, ensuring that it blends in comfortably with its setting.
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The glazing maximises natural daylight and visual connections to the landscape with 360-degree views out across the landscape.
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The apartments include a mix of 1-bed and 2-bed units. Our design concept is driven by the setting, with four buildings stepping down the hill in order to ensure as little impact as possible with a scale that relates to the existing neighbouring houses, and also to the rest of the Erith Quarry development.

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Open spaces between blocks allow a better connection between the existing and the new, and the stepping volumes and the façade composition create a faceted and varied appearance whilst maintaining the hierarchies set out in the masterplan.

Sustainability

The disused quarry was first used for landfill and then abandoned, giving nature and wildlife a chance to take over – a quality we were keen to preserve. The site in its original state supported a diverse range of invertebrates, but was also contaminated by Japanese Knotweed and other invasive species. Our masterplan protects the most ecologically valuable parts of the site and maintains a mosaic of different habitats, all while ensuring that invasive species are prevented from recolonising the site.

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Our approach is about prioritising nature: we’ve softened the street scene with newly planted trees and shrubs, encouraged low-speed environments with traffic calming and shared surfaces, provided bat and bird boxes, increased the existing grassland and woodland habitats, and given all family houses generous rear gardens. We wanted the countryside qualities of this suburban site to shine through, almost as if the buildings had grown from the topography of the site. Information boards and signage will help to inform and educate, and the school – as the focal point of the community and with its emphasis on outdoor learning and energy efficiency – will lead the way in terms of a sustaining, biodiverse and natural environment.

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