Tell us about the early design brief
To design 281 town houses and apartments in six number ten storey blocks around a shared courtyard garden. These would be used by athletes during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and then as a mixture of social and private housing after the Games.
What inspired your design concept?
European urban apartment buildings were an inspiration for us – there’s a hint of Cerdà’s chamfered Barcelona blocks. Our block has a horizontal emphasis rather than being made up of a composite of differentiated parts. It has a base of townhouses and retail units, then upper balconies and the horizon of the rooftop.
What challenges did you face along the way?
With the London 2012 Games as a deadline, we worked intensely. We had to look at pre-fabricating as many components as possible to speed up construction. This included pre-cast concrete façade panels with pre-installed windows, balconies, bathroom pods, stairs and structural columns.
Did you know…
- The gull wing roofs of the uppermost apartments look like Union Jacks when seen from the air
What about specific design challenges?
We wanted a pre-cast concrete façade with minimal joints between the panels and a variety of scales and textures. We trialled different textures and finishes and designed an interlocking system of joints to visually mask the ‘grid’ that is common to pre-cast facades.
We also wanted colour on the facades, which would be durable and colour fast, so we took original hand-painted artworks and screen-printed them onto vitreous enamel panels as part of the balconies.
How did it feel to be involved in such an important British project?
The London 2012 Olympics were a great showcase of British talent and organisation and we were very proud to be part of that. We are also proud to play a part in a new quarter for London.