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12 Nov 2021 • shedkm

first social rent homes designed by shedkm delivered in royal greenwich

The first group of homes designed by shedkm for Royal Borough of Greenwich’s ambitious Greenwich Builds council home-building scheme has been completed.

Delivered by Elkins Construction, the first phase is part of the Borough’s wider ambition to provide over 750 sustainable, high-quality, genuinely affordable homes – far below the private market rate at London Affordable Rent. The scheme, constructed entirely from offsite methods of manufacturing, will also provide significant improvements to the existing public realm with additional space for play and recreation, for the benefit of new and existing residents alike.

shedkm have designed over 230 of the target number of homes, which will be located at various sites across the borough. Royal Borough of Greenwich aim to have all homes either built or under construction by 2022, providing for many of the families and individuals most in need of housing. A key commitment across the whole Greenwich Builds programme is extensive, inclusive consultation and engagement with residents, especially those who are vulnerable.

The first four modular homes to be complete are split across two sites, Strongbow Road and Bowness Close, and will be 100% for social rent.

A key aspiration for shedkm was to challenge design stereotypes of socially rented housing, with a focus on the quality and generosity of inside space. Despite the constrained nature of both sites, each home has been designed with large, picture windows to maximise natural light and with simple, spacious and practical interiors. Living areas and bedrooms have been designed with views connecting to the gardens, communal outdoor areas and wider site. Window arrangements, tree planting and adjacencies to pavements strike a balance between individual privacy and connections to the street.    

shedkm aims to deliver new housing that is an exemplar of sustainable, social housing in terms of both delivery and operation. The scheme has been designed using modular offsite timber construction with each house being formed of two to four modules. Offsite construction has been a key component in achieving shedkm and the Borough’s environmental targets, with homes designed and delivered to achieve beyond net-zero carbon targets in both construction and operation, and subsequent energy savings benefitting both tenants and the Borough. Other active measures include mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, photovoltaic panels and air source heat pumps.

Strongbow Road

Strongbow Road comprises two, two-storey, three-bedroom family houses on an existing underutilised garage site. The homes are a contemporary adaptation of the traditional 1930s semi-detached homes within the area. Both include private rear gardens, alongside planted areas at the front of the properties, which sit back from the existing street.  

Specialist foundation details allowed for the retention of two large mature Hornbeam trees to the front of the site which add value and a welcoming sense of place to the streetscape. Modular construction minimised any site works near to the trees and meant that services could be run in the zone between them. Each house enjoys on-street parking and additional ground cover planting adds to the streetscape. Materials have been used to create a fresh contemporary presence whilst being sensitive to the surrounding context.

Bowness Close

Bowness Close comprises two, two-bedroom houses on an existing, under-utilised garage site. Situated at the end of a slope, they are set lower than the homes at the existing site. As at Strongbow Road, the design maximises private amenity and play space, and the houses have been designed to maximise the amount of space on the site for the front and rear private gardens, as well as the inclusion of new, improved landscaping and lighting around the properties. Improved public realm links the houses back to Bowness Close, with the houses set back from the main residential road. The houses are situated against the northern retaining wall running parallel to the Glenlea path and beyond this is the Eltham bus and rail interchange, thereby improving connectivity to the wider, local neighbourhood.

Privacy is provided with a mixture of gated brick walls to external spaces, trees to the front to screen views in and out and angled windows at first floor level. A shared driveway provides defined parking areas and clear ownership.

Facades are restrained and elegant, with a variety of materials and details such as oriel windows to help address massing. The lightweight metal cladding to the upper storeys provides a sharp contrast to the soft landscaping.

shedkm and Elkins Construction will be delivering over 230 more homes for Greenwich Builds, across nine sites.

Alex Flint, Director at shedkm said: “When working with Greenwich Builds and the local community in Greenwich to design these much-needed homes our approach has been people-first. All of our work centers around socially responsive design and by putting sustainability, placemaking and space at the forefront of our ambitions, we have created a vibrant place to live within this emerging new neighbourhood, providing beautifully designed and practical homes for those who need them most in Greenwich.”

Councillor Anthony Okereke, Royal Borough of Greenwich Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Seeing the first of this new generation of council homes completed is a great vindication of our ambitious Greenwich Builds programme. After too many years where councils were prevented from building new homes, we are proud that, together with exemplary partners like shedkm and Elkins Construction, we’re now able to deliver sustainable, high-quality and truly affordable council homes for local people.” 

Julien Dixon, Key Account Manager at Elkins Construction, said: “We are extremely pleased to have these much-needed council rent homes handed over to Royal Borough of Greenwich. These modern, spacious and well-designed houses have been built to meet the client’s requirements of net-zero carbon. These will be the first of many to be delivered for the Royal Borough of Greenwich over the coming years.”

Read about the scheme in the Architects’ Journal here.