Ely Court in London, England, is one of five finalists for the 2017 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award. The winner will be announced in Brussels on May 12th.
Ely Court is a 44 dwelling residential development within the South Kilburn Estate Regeneration Masterplan in the London Borough of Brent. Ely Court forms part of Phase 1 of the Regeneration Programme. The scheme delivers a mixture of single and double storey dwellings with 40% made available to existing South Kilburn Estate social tenants.
ABA’s proposal reinstates the block and street pattern that characterised this archetypal 19th C London ‘suburb’ before its post-war redevelopment. A new inner block mews draws pedestrians and vehicles into what was previously an isolated and under-used ‘green space’ between existing slab blocks and acts as a spine connecting the two new developments. Ely Court was conceived as four building types, each of a different scale and organisation responding to its specific locale. The four storey Terrace and the Flatiron Building each offer strong new street frontages to Chichester Road. The Terrace, Mews and Flatiron Blocks frame a new public garden square in front of Canterbury Court. This open space was formerly underused and now provides park space, framed by four generations of architecture. The Mews shares its surface, with new street trees.
The intention of the regeneration is to re-integrate the Estate into the wider South Kilburn neighbourhood, create a sense of place, by replacing existing poor quality, single tenure 1960s building stock, with high quality, mixed tenure, developments demonstrating architectural excellence and diverse communities.
The four building types have all been designed to provide exceptionally high quality, bright and spacious units. Areas generally exceed space standards. The floor to ceiling height is exceptionally generous at 2.6m throughout the scheme and all windows are full floor to ceiling height. The fenestration consists mainly French doors, with their accompanying sense of light, space and quality.
The buildings act as an interpretation of the 19th C mansion blocks of neighbouring Maida Vale, but with 2 storey maisonettes on the ground floor. The maisonettes are typically interspersed with communal entrances that provide access to apartments above; via double height entrances with perforated brick screens. The facades are animated with front porticoes and recessed balconies, resulting in highly articulated, rhythmic facades.
The scheme aimed to be delivered within traditional construction techniques and looks to make best use of a simple material palette which is durable and low maintenance, but that also communicate long term values for generations to come. The structural frame is made of pre-fabricated hollowcore slabs supported by blockwork. The frame is externally finished with a Dutch brick laid in a running bond. Composite windows have been used throughout allowing for a warmer internal finish in natural timber. Fenestration is generally double leaf and full height which open in the form of a Juliette balconies. Metalwork is found in the form of painted balustrades to all balconies and railings at ground floor. The 2 storey porticoes, are framed in steel and clad with darker coloured aluminium, in contrast to the light sandy brickwork.
The total cost of this project was £13.75m. The income from the sale of the private sale homes has been used to cross-subsidise the affordable housing. Catalyst Housing Group purchased the scheme from the Brent Council in 2012, the land payment has helped support the Council in funding the buyouts and planning costs of the next phase of this regeneration.
Photos of the jury visiting Ely Court, courtesy of the EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award Facebook page: