“Transformational” paving by Interpave

With the recent completion of public realm regeneration at the east London Brownfield Estate, Interpave has substantially updated its case study on this exemplary project.

Brownfield includes modernist architect Ernö Goldfinger’s listed, ‘brutalist’ concrete high-rise blocks – including Balfron Tower – from the late 60s and early 70s.

Before regeneration, a key issue with the Estate was the variable quality and character of the urban realm, which was ill-defined with uncertainty about identifying public or private spaces and fronts or backs of buildings. With standard width carriageways, very wide pavements and no defensible space to frontages, the streetscape was bleak.

This regeneration project, designed by PRP for Poplar HARCA, works within the general layout of the refurbished and new infill buildings and adopted streets.

The aim is to unify disparate elements of the site using a simple palette of hard landscape materials, developing a language that unites the neighbourhood. Wherever possible, multi-use streets and spaces are developed – bold and contemporary in character – using robust and high quality landscape elements.

The project is characterised by a uniform application of concrete block paving on un-adopted areas, with feature paving announcing estate entrances and around key buildings. Here, concrete flags in strong colours are arranged in bands to create a bold linear feel.

Then, throughout the scheme silver-grey concrete setts – with enhanced granite surface adding sparkle – highlight footways, while charcoal setts identify private amenity space. Edges and transformations are defined by enhanced-finish concrete kerbs, some laid flush, others raised.

This is an exemplary scheme, demonstrating the importance of considered, detailed design and execution in the public realm.

Interpave has just published an updated case study exploring the project which, together with other case studies and guidance on various issues, ranging from Sustainability to SuDS, can be downloaded via the Interpave information resource at www.paving.org.uk.