WINNER Housing Design Awards 2023

Farmstead Road

Bellingham, Lewisham

Metropolitan Workshop have been commissioned by Phoenix Community Housing, a not-for-profit resident-led housing association based in south London, to develop a back garden infill project consisting of 24 new affordable homes on a 0.29ha site in the historic Bellingham Estate. The new homes will be arranged into two gatehouse buildings at the front of the site addressing the street and a 3 storey butterfly block to the rear.

Metropolitan Workshop’s approach is focused on hands-on thinking, collaborating and contributing. Here we worked with Phoenix Community Housing to engage with existing residents of the estate, keeping them up to date with the emerging design and providing insight into the principles of infill development. Phoenix are committed to delivering new affordable homes on infill sites within their landholding, therefore transparency and education is important toward fostering a sense of trust with existing residents, benefiting current and future projects.

Farmstead Road is being designed to achieve Passivhaus accreditation. Working with Etude, specialist sustainability engineers, emerging proposals have been evaluated against the following key design criteria; building form, façade, building fabric, airtightness, mechanical services and low carbon heat to deliver Passivhaus and an ultra-low energy building.

Passivhaus relies on a ‘fabric first’ approach so Farmstead Road will be super-insulated. From the outset a safe allowance 600mm for the total external wall thickness was adopted with a 250mm insulation depth. External spaces integrated into the building form, such as bin and bike stores can make the thermal envelope complex and affect the building’s performance. Here, these spaces have been made external and integrated into the landscape design.

Farmstead Road will provide warmer more comfortable homes that are constructed to a higher quality, delivering better internal air quality and long term energy performance with significantly lower fuel bills. Importantly for Phoenix it will reduce fuel poverty, rent arrears and debt risk and future maintenance costs.

Team: Alan Baxter (Structures) / BPTW (Planning Consultant) / PotterRaper (QS) / Max Fordham (M+E)

Architectural Approach

As a starting point, we thoroughly analysed the interwar estates radial masterplan (left) to ensure that the new proposals were laid out in accordance with the principles of the original masterplan. The subsequent design adopts these principles, creating an inward-looking plan that mitigates overlooking concerns into neighbouring properties and provides dual or triple aspect dwellings throughout.

The new buildings draw influence from the surrounding Arts & Crafts architecture, to preserve and enhance the character of their historic context. They adopt modest yet decorative brickwork and a strong sense of symmetry, with large mansards disguising additional accommodation within the roofs. Typical examples of the existing estate’s architecture are illustrated below.