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Bath Western

Northlake

2017-2019

Our approach has been to work with the existing ecological habitats to create a holistic landscape which will contribute to regional bio-diversity

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Our approach has been to work with the existing ecological habitats to create a holistic landscape which will contribute to regional bio-diversity
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Strategy

Working for London Strategic Land, we’re the urban designers, architects and landscape architects for Northlake, a new neighbourhood located in the lakeside basin in Thurrock.

Location:
Thurrock, UK
Client:
London Strategic Land
Role:
Urban Designer, Architect and Landscape Architect
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The site was originally defined by its use as a quarry for chalk between 1874-1968
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The site today, with the Arena Essex Raceway and Lakeside Karting facilities

The site is designated as greenbelt land, with the council’s aspiration to make a green, sustainable community that places wellbeing at the forefront.

We looked at Northlake as an opportunity to underpin the transformation of the neighbouring Lakeside Shopping Centre, which lies to the south of the site, into a 21st century town centre.

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Diagram showing emerging context of Northlake, where it underpins Lakeside Shopping Centre as a town centre destination

To achieve this, we curated a series of social and leisure infrastructure including new sports and community facilities, a new school, extensive green links and open space to entwine new with old, along with 2500 new homes.

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We created a series of brief development images that responded to the perceived needs of the community elements of the proposals

Our approach overcomes significant topographical challenges and establishes a mixed-use, residential led destination that helps reinforce Lakesides future where wildlife focused areas and people focused areas are balanced and mutually beneficial.

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Extent of our framework
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CGI aerial view of Northlake, with the Lakeside Shopping Centre in the distance

From the outset, we have worked closely with the client, Thurrock Council, CABE, local residents and stakeholders to develop the vision for Northlake, and we submitted a hybrid planning application for the site in late 2018.

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The lido and the lake are integral components of the place

Specificity

In addition to co-ordinating the overarching place framework for Northlake, we have lead the detailed design for phase one. Here, we’ve carefully considered what components will ensure that the first phase can stand alone as a successful community in advance of the delivery of later phases. Designed around the provision of a linear park, we’ve incorporated a residential neighbourhood of 342 homes, a lido facility, 3km of mountain bike routes with a national standard pump track, and a plethora of public realm improvements.

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Phase 1
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The residential element is informally arranged into two parcels, or ‘nests’, a strategic design option that allows a rich communal space to be shared by residents and embodies our landscape-led approach to placemaking. The nests are an eminently buildable typology, and based on the garden wall concept which establishes a domestic scale at street level, stepping between 1 and 2 storeys. In doing so, we are indiscriminate between houses and apartments, ensuring each plot reads like a coherent whole. The playful articulation of the garden wall also ensures moments of surprise, including curved returns to the corner apartments, richly textured brickwork and surprise views into, and out of the communal spaces within each nest.

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We’ve provided a variety of typologies to enable progression within the community, with each home designed to maximise internal space and daylight, generous floor to ceiling heights, and we’ve reduced energy requirements through high-level of insulation, low energy appliances and the use of renewable energy. High quality materials are employed throughout to ensure the development complements the character of the town centre and has a consistently high quality appearance for the years to come.

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Sustainability

From the beginning, our approach to Northlake has been to work with the existing ecological habitats to create a holistic landscape which will contribute to regional bio-diversity, creating another core area along the Mar Dyke Valley linear corridor. The existing site is not a planned or designed landscape; its appearance is largely influenced by the previous activities that have taken place on its land, including as a quarry and 4x4 track. This neglect and variation of uses has allowed for an array of dissimilar habitats to be sustained in close proximity, with the large areas of scrub around the perimeter of the site providing habitat for small birds and mammals.

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We have conceptually extended the existing ecological mapping of the site to cover the entire site, and we’ve introduced new habitats to establish different landscape character areas. A number of ecologically important features where identified by the team ecologist and our framework ensures they will be protected in their entirety. For example, proposed buildings are offset from the existing south facing embankments to ensure they receive enough sunlight to support the invertebrates that colonise them; in other areas, no access is allowed to ensure these spaces become successful wildlife and habitat zones.

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Additional ecological measures such as bat and bird boxes, ecological bricks, and ecologically recommended planting species and log piles have also been included in the design to maximise ecological potential of the site. Furthermore, Northlake encourages modal shift and less reliance on private vehicles, with the integration of cycle and footpath linkages to the wider Lakeside Basin, Chafford Hundred railway station and the Mardyke Valley.
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