- Hybrid application for 646 senior living, open market sale and 35% affordable homes
- New linear park and crossing along the River Wandle, regreening an old gasholder site
- A new base for the vibrant music industry in Wandsworth
- A new space for the independent Backyard Cinema
- 6,488m2 of new workspace
- Targeting real, meaningful embodied carbon savings and zero carbon ready heating
- Accessible, inclusive and welcoming
A planning application for Wandsworth Gasworks – a new, mixed use, mixed tenure, sustainable community in the heart of Wandsworth that celebrates its connection to the Wandle River – has been submitted by Common Development Ltd, on behalf of joint venture SGN Mitheridge Ltd, with masterplanner shedkm.
The proposed landscape-led masterplan offers a unique riverside character, inspired by the history and heritage of Wandsworth, with high quality public realm for all. It will create around 640 homes, including senior living and 35% affordable housing in buildings ranging from 10 to 30 storeys, amongst bars, coffee shops and commercial and cultural spaces. They are set alongside a lush, new riverside park, with 200m of the River Wandle, formerly inaccessible, opened up for the first time.
The site is in the centre of Wandsworth, just five minutes from Wandsworth Town station, and is well connected by road and on the cycle superhighway. The redevelopment of the gasworks site will open up key new connections between the town, the station and the Thames Riverside.
The full collaborative team includes MAX Architects, Carmody Groarke, BD Landscape Architects, Atelier Ten and Whitby Wood Engineers.
MAX Architects’ retention of the 45m tall, 67m diameter circular concrete lined foundation of the old gas holder is a fundamental sustainability and design driver for the scheme, saving the carbon equivalent of over 100 new build homes. The proposals have been driven by a desire to minimise the embodied carbon of new build elements, and to reuse the existing embodied carbon of the former gas holder base – working in close collaboration with structural engineers Whitby Wood to refine the structural elements. Operational energy requirements have been reduced through passive design, and heating and hot water requirements will be provided by a significant majority of air-source heat pumps, powered by an energy centre located within the former gas holder base. Sustainability consultants Atelier Ten have driven the design to ensure that it is in line with and, where possible, exceeds the London Plan and LETI standards.
regreening vs industrial heritage
The once open marshland, and later polluting industrial land, will now be re-greened and re-purposed with new parkland and significant biodiversity improvements to the River Wandle. New buildings, in a biodiverse new landscape, stitch back in to the existing, diverse community of Wandsworth.
The gas holder’s inflating steel structure dominated this area of Wandsworth as a part of its local context for over 60 years. The regeneration proposals nod to this industrial past within various buildings and the re-use of this significant existing gas holder base to provide space for both new residents and the wider community, locking away the carbon embodied in the concrete and reinterpreting this local landmark for future generations.
MAX Architects’ re-interpretation of the circular form and metallic palette of the original holder, sees the huge basin retained below ground, generating an innovative circular plan form that draws pedestrian movement from Wandsworth Town Station towards the river through the heart of the gas holder plot. A mixed-use ground floor containing workspace, a new public cinema and residential amenity activates the streetscape around and within the circular plinth. The three taller elements above re-instate the cylindrical volume of the holder and contain high quality later living apartments designed around a cluster of amenity uses Including public restaurant, leisure facilities and generous public and private garden spaces.
The Common team, working closely with Kaizen, ensured there was ongoing and meaningful pre-application engagement, commencing in May 2021 and running until the point of submission.
The team engaged with over 1,000 local people and explored broad questions to help develop a rounded understanding of the local area – what people liked, the challenges the community faces and its needs, and the aspirations for the future development of the area, as well as general views about the Wandsworth Gasworks site and perceptions around housing needs in the area. All the information gathered went in to informing the design proposals.
music, culture and cinema
The respected and historic music industry in Wandsworth contributes significantly to the local economy and cultural offer of the borough. Wandsworth Gasworks will ensure that this industry not only remains within the borough but thrives. Based within the wider site are Domino Records and local music charity NEKO Trust, who support early career creatives both on and off stage. The existing railway arches will be re-activated with music venues and commercial space for organisations that support and sustain the music industry.
NEKO Trust are also working in tandem with the Common Projects team to explore a larger cultural provision and are currently delivering a programme of events with the local community to further strengthen Wandsworth as a key music hub within the UK.
There will also be a site-wide art strategy to include the provision of art through the play-spaces, wayfinding, the bridge, public art and landscaping – with engagement continuing with local young people within Wandsworth about how this may be formed. Following the initial round of community engagement, it was decided that a community meeting space should be included on the ground floor of one of the proposed buildings to support local groups and charities.
Following the displacement of the highly successful and popular Backyard Cinema from the final phase of the Ram Quarter, the cinema has found a new temporary home on part of the wider Gasworks site and the proposals for Wandsworth Gasworks provide for an improved, and permanent, cinema space within the original curved gas holder base.
shedkm were appointed masterplan architects in spring 2020, with MAX Architects responsible for the gas holder renewal at the heart of the scheme. shedkm and Common ran a shortlisted architectural competition to evolve a truly collaborative process and bring the most appropriate talent to the proposed collection of buildings. In an unconventional start to a project of this scale, it was decided the site deserved several views to evolve the most appropriate vision for the community, knitted together by a consistent approach to the ground plane. Working with BD Landscape Architects, shedkm went on to mediate and lead one collective vision for the site underpinned by unique approaches to a new marker building and regeneration of the gas holder plot.
The architecture is intended to respond intelligently to place and context but also the climate emergency. The riverside plots, designed by Carmody Groarke and shedkm, read as a family of buildings with tones gently shifting between them. The buildings are designed to react to orientation and conditions to create good quality internal environments removing the need for additional cooling. The scheme is designed to be fresh and contemporary whilst complementing the character of Wandsworth. All apartments are dual aspect, offering views across the city and river.
Careful analysis of the site and the masterplan design revealed several pockets of space and desire lines. Plot A1 has been designed to respond to this through creating active public faces along all edges of the building creating open, vibrant spaces for the community. The existing arches underneath the railway viaduct will be redeveloped and converted for public facing flexible use. The tower form has been designed to maximise passive environmental design with the tower form creating apartments that have dual aspect and natural ventilation. The design incorporates a publicly accessible terrace at first floor that forms a visual connection to the new linear park and riverside location.
Hazel Rounding, Director at shedkm, said: “shedkm are excited to be creating this new, green community in the heart of Wandsworth – a true representation of our mission to create places that are rooted in regeneration and are both economically and socially transformative. By collaborating closely with this talented team and the people of Wandsworth we hope to create a place with a strong identity and innovation at its heart.”