Designing for community at Marcon Place E8

By Tom Westwood, Waugh Thistleton Architects, Associate

Marcon Place E8 is Waugh Thistleton’s first built project for Pocket, and Pocket’s first endeavour in Hackney – working together proved a perfect match. We’ve done a good amount of work in the Borough, and Pocket knows the way to getting good quality, fairly-priced housing in the areas that people want to live and work.

At the forefront of Marcon Place E8 was always the commitment to strong design, so we worked closely with the team at Pocket to create smart, thoughtful, and welcoming spaces. What ultimately developed is a design that proves that high density housing can employ natural materials, a human scale and a generosity of communal spaces. It proves to residents that there need not be a compromise in the quality of accommodation required to enjoy the benefits of central London living.

Marcon Place’s 31 homes are arranged in four blocks around a landscaped courtyard which forms the heart of the scheme. This common outdoor area inspires community living and gives Marcon Place that splash of green all tenants desire.

Marcon Place early sketch

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Unlocking London’s Housing Potential – what more can we do?

Last year, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) produced a very useful report into housing in London, ‘Getting our house in order’.  The report aimed to build a ‘business case’ for the creation of more homes in the Capital, noting the urgent need for more homes at all levels in London, and urging Government (national, regional and local) to work together to deliver more homes for London’s workforce.

This week LCCI has published a follow-up paper, Unlocking London’s Housing Potential’, focusing on one of the main recommendations in their original report – the release of public land for housing. Public land release is especially important for the development of affordable housing yet, as Pocket is quoted as saying in the report, it can take up to four times longer to acquire land and planning on public sector sites in London than private acquisitions.  This can be crippling for a small developer like Pocket.

Housing for the people who make London tick

More needs to be done to support the development of housing in London, especially housing that is specifically designed for the crucial workforce that keeps the city ticking. The report highlights that ‘51% of London firms believe the lack of housing… was the issue having the most impact on their business…’.  London needs the right kind of housing in the right locations in order to keep these talented and valuable people living in, and contributing to, their communities.  We have been banging this drum since Pocket started building affordable homes, so it’s great to have more voices added to this call. (more…)

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Is it really a compromise to have less living space?

The London property market is getting more and more expensive, so it makes sense that young buyers are finding they need to ‘compromise’ to get their foot on the housing ladder – moving to less popular, less central areas is all part of London’s evolution, and buyers are expecting less and less space as they go further out.  But is having less space really a compromise?

More space costs more to furnish, more to heat, and gives you more room to keep more stuff, while today’s young workforce is trying to minimize all of this.

Are we suffering from Stuffocation?

James Wallman’s book Stuffocation (www.stuffocation.org) describes that, the consumer culture of the west is starting to wane; people are finding that more does not mean better. He looks at this from a range of angles and all the indicators seem to be pointing in the same direction. The new digital generation coming of age now can be viewed from various intellectual perspectives:

  • Political scientists say they have grown up in relative stability and therefore don’t feel the need to hoard material goods
  • Environmentalists will tell you that the threat of global warming has meant a greater consciousness of consumption
  • Psychologists note that earning more and buying more doesn’t equate to happiness
  • Economists also point out that in a world of rising costs and stagnating incomes, most people simply do not have the money to keep buying more stuff
  • Technologists tell us the reason why we are turning away from material goods is, actually, because we can. After all, what’s the point of owning physical books and CDs when you can access them from the cloud?

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