SPPARC wins planning for a new housing development in Southwark

SPPARC has won planning permission for its design for a new housing and mixed-use development on Verney Road in Southwark. The scheme for Argon Capital creates a series of three buildings orientated along a lateral park on a brownfield site in the heart of the Old Kent Road Opportunity Area.

Positioned in what was once the industrial hinterland of the Grand Surrey Canal, which was home to saw mills and felt works amongst other trades, Verney Road will deliver 5,234m2 (GEA) of flexible commercial floor space alongside 338 residential dwellings including affordable housing. The commercial space will provide independent co-working incubator spaces, with frontages that will be visually permeable to provide interest on the street and across the courtyards.

The Verney Road scheme takes the form of three street-facing buildings which will provide coherence to an area which is currently quite fragmented. Layered to varied heights, the massing of the taller elements takes into consideration existing neighbouring buildings, particularly an 18-storey residential neighbour. This contextual response to the changing scales of the area, has resulted in three buildings between 16 and 22 storeys, layered by the commercial uses at a lower street level which fronts onto Verney Road. The taller elements line the lateral park.

The development creates open communal pathways through the site to the public spaces which follow the route of the now lost Grand Surrey Canal. This public realm is overlooked by projecting balconies that provide texture and rhythm to the facades and enable community integration. Play spaces within the landscape will provide a range of stimulating environments specifically for different age groups. These will be housed in a green corridor between the buildings. Combined, the generous pedestrian walkways, courtyards, play areas and green lateral park support the wider regeneration objectives for the Old Kent Road Opportunity Area and will be open to both residents and the public.

The industrial heritage of the area provides important influences for the design of the scheme. The highly articulated facades of the three buildings appear to be formed of stacked blocks in the form of cantilevered balconies, inspired by the stacked lumber yards which once lined the Grand Surrey Canal nearby. In addition, the motif of timber formwork will be left exposed across the surface of external balconies as a further reminder of the timber working that was once such a mainstay of local working life. Strong masonry corners that define the street scene fronting Verney Road take reference from the robust masonry warehousing that once dominated the area. Further nods to the industrial past are found in the detailing of the large format windows with vertical glazing bars and frames set within deep cast reveals.

In contrast to the historic buildings of the past, the proposal has been conceived to be an exemplar of energy efficient and sustainable design through its approach to facade detailing responding to orientation and the considered use of materials.

Trevor Morriss, Principal at SPPARC, said,

“Working within the context of this extraordinary historic area of London has been a voyage of industrial discovery. We are very excited by the potential for this scheme to add enormously to the borough, both in terms of amenity, design intent and community cohesion.”