North Kensington, London
Client: Peabody Trust
Perhaps the most challenging of brownfield sites to date, these four hectares of heavily contaminated former gasworks land are bounded by the Paddington main line railway, operational gas holders, a major supermarket service yard and the Grand Union Canal.
It is crossed by two major sewers, a trunk gas main and a railway access road. Development is also restricted by safety zones around the gas holders, potential intrusion into the conservation area across the canal, which contains an important cemetery, and the reservation of construction land for the future Crossrail project.
It is a dead-end peninsula, the only access being via a service road skirting the supermarket car park. Such significant severance from the city would clearly require a high critical mass to ensure a quasi self-sufficient viable new community, and accordingly a Masterplan for a high density mixed use development was conceived. The essential elements were a perimeter band of building, lower and perforated towards the amenity of the canal and cemetery, with central taller buildings defining an informal green space and ecology garden, and two formal public spaces, being the commercial and cultural heart of the scheme centred around two linked canal basins with moorings. In addition to B1 studio and live/work spaces, the plan contains some 800 dwellings, half being affordable.