Bell Phillips Architects

Heron Court

Bell Phillips architects grabbed the chance to make a difference to a run down block of 60’s social housing and produced a design comprising two buildings arranged around a communal south-facing courtyard. The two buildings are splayed with a steel stair core at the apex, opening the courtyard to the south to maximise the available sunlight to the space and to provide views towards the mature trees along the canal side.

The development has been designed to provide a mix of tenures and dwelling types creating a vibrant, sustainable community. All of the dwellings have been designed to be double-aspect to provide good quality natural light, views and space.

The timber cladding used on the upper floors incorporates vertical timber fins. The articulation of the fins is carried through to the structural design of the balconies and walkways which use a filigree of fine galvanized steelwork dimensioned and arranged to align with the timber. The design of the balconies comprising a lattice of fine steelwork reaching out away from the building towards the garden and canal is inspired by the branches and canopy of the surrounding trees.

Galvanized steel has been an essential constituent in the construction. The lightweight galvanized steel frame allowed fast construction methods to be deployed providing a long lifespan at the same time. And in terms of visible elements, the galvanized steel core, bridge links, balconies and elements of cladding all contribute to the overall success of the scheme, which has significantly exceeded the client’s expectations and demonstrates that, while remaining within the boundaries of a standard budget, social housing can be innovative, elegant and a highly desirable place to live.

Images © Kilian O’Sullivan and Benedict Luxmoore