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Urban Design Compendium

Case Study 037 - Creating an attractive high-density development

037 - Fleet Street Hill, London

Previously redundant railway land, Fleet Street Hill had become available for redevelopment following the construction of the new East London Line. The ambition was to create a vibrant, attractive and safe new neighbourhood providing much-needed family housing in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

An area of just 0.38 hectares, narrow and triangular in shape and bounded on all sides by railway lines and embankments, a key challenge was to integrate the new development into the wider community and provide opportunities for a thriving streetscene. Peter Barber Architects responded with a proposal for a new public square lying at the intersection of two important pedestrian routes that would link the site with its surroundings and improve the connection between two adjoining neighbourhoods.

The project is a celebration of the public social life of streets and squares. A high proportion of family homes with doors and windows on the street help to promote a buzzing, thriving public space where people might enjoy passing through and spend time. Three new mews streets link the square to its surroundings, creating a convenient way for people to walk from neighbourhoods to the north and east, to the park to the south.

Houses have been carefully designed to protect the residents from the railway noise. Almost all of the rooms have two aspects with views toward the square or a private terrace without relying on opening windows toward the railway. At prominent street corners, houses are formed with elegantly curving corners which lead people into the mews and frame views into the square. Throughout the scheme, subtle steps and height variation in the buildings together with numerous street edge front doors and arched recesses create a visually interesting street frontage.

The proposed scheme provides 43 dwellings of which half are very large (up to six bedrooms) affordable family houses. The majority of dwellings alternate between 2 and 4 storeys with just one slender 11 storey feature building marking one of the mews entrances to the site. With an overall density of 580 habitable rooms per hectare, the scheme clearly indicates that high density does not necessitate high rise.

Other Information

UDC2 Section - Integrated Designg the Seed  

Careful consideration of the interaction between public and private spaces have been key in making this high density scheme work.

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