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Granville's grandeur

Ciaran Regan
22 April 2010

Granville New Homes is a redevelopment of historic Kilburn area which is a triumphant mix of old and new.

Granville New Homes

Granville New Homes. Photo by Tim Crocker/Levitt Bernstein Architects.

Granville New Homes in Brent, with its "zebra" brickwork and high-quality open spaces, proves that old and new can sit comfortably side by side.

Originally part of the Kilburn Park estate, the site is hugged by late 19th-century grade II-listed buildings with Italianate stucco and stock brick villas. The complex planning context would have deterred all but the most experienced and creative of developers.

But the London Borough of Brent rose to the challenge, adopting a flexible approach from the outset. The result is striking l attractive homes that respond well to the neighbouring conservation area.

The scheme was completed last year, and consists of 110 homes and a nursery and community facility and is central to the council's regeneration masterplan for the wider area.

The homes are arranged in four blocks around the existing street pattern. Ranging from one- to four-bedroom maisonettes, most are socially rented housing.

The detailing of the new units picks up on features of the neighbouring historic buildings and offers a sympathetic, yet contemporary slant on existing housing types. Individual blocks have subtle differences in height, colour and building materials, but work together as a unified whole.

The local community was actively involved in the development from the start. Prospective tenants helped select Levitt Bernstein Associates to design their future homes. Several went on trips around the UK and to the Netherlands to study different types and designs of housing.

The scheme's pioneering of minimum internal space standards shows an intention to put residents first. The residents contribution is most visible in the facade material, which was selected for its appearance and thermal properties.

There are clear navigable routes through the development and a good distinction between the public and private realms. The design and layout preserves mature trees, and all units are dual aspect.

Each home has solar panels, green roofs, storm-water retention and rainwater harvesting, enabling the scheme to achieve EcoHomes’ “Very Good" standard. The architects are working with the University of East London to monitor energy use over a year. Granville New Homes was deservedly recognised with a Building for Life award last year. It serves as a model for community involvement and creative thinking and should act as a catalyst for the regeneration of south Kilburn.

Ciaran Regan is a design and planning advisor at CABE.

More about Granville New Homes

  • Granville New Homes

    A very striking development which responds successfully to its conservation area context at the same time as delivering attractive homes and high quality open spaces.

  • Building for Life

    Building for Life is the national standard for well-designed homes and neighbourhoods.