Achilles Street

Karakusevic Carson Architects

Client:
Lewisham Council

Borough: 
The London Borough of Lewisham

Scale and density: 
471 homes, 180 student beds, 2,700sqm retail and commercial space

Tenure: 
A minimum 50% affordable with 35% social rent

Status: 
RIBA Stage 2 completed 2017, successful resident ballot 2019 (pre-planning)

Achilles Street is a mixed-used development comprising over 450 homes, plus student, commercial and workspace accommodation for the London Borough of Lewisham. Situated in the heart of New Cross, it is an ambitious scheme that demonstrates the importance of placemaking as a tool for regeneration.

The site sits at a key intersection in the borough between the busy New Cross Road and the relative quiet of Fordham Park, amongst routes, activities, connections and views. 

Karakusevic Carson Architects
Karakusevic Carson Architects
Karakusevic Carson Architects

This unique location gives it potential to become a vibrant centre for New Cross and the wider area, and in doing so, help strengthen the connection between the Goldsmiths University campus, Fordham Park, and the expanding network of the North Lewisham links programme. The ambitious public realm within the proposed masterplan is designed to both respond to these possibilities and build upon the natural hubs, routes, and activities already present.

This housing-led scheme proposes the reprovision of all the existing council homes alongside new mixed-tenure dwellings, retail and commercial space, student accommodation and a significantly improved public realm. Uses and activities transition from commercial and studio workspace on New Cross Road to community and residential as the buildings approach the edge of the park.


The masterplan creates a series of new routes respond to the sharply sloping topography of the site and introduce a permeability currently lacking in the existing layout. A new hierarchy of streets, lanes, courtyards and passages introduce greater variety and an enrichment of the urban grain, whilst allowing for the sensitive densification of such an important urban site.

Specific site requirements such as parking, servicing and accessibility are addressed, but the over-arching priority is that of creating great places for visitors, users and residents to enjoy, with the pedestrian experience prioritised and explored through a sequence of connections and views that offer both surprise and delight.


Karakusevic Carson Architects
Karakusevic Carson Architects

The interface with New Cross Road is reinforced by proposing a more appropriate scale and presence along this edge, whilst Achilles Street itself is more clearly defined through the scale and location of new blocks to render it as a proper urban street with well-defined edges and characterful facades. Ground floors are raised to differentiate between public and private uses and help give the buildings a clear base. The street is crossed by routes leading down from New Cross Road towards Fordham Park and corner junctions are marked with level changes and landscaping.

Perpendicular to this, the residential lanes are intimate spaces that encourage meetings between neighbours. Private front doors and communal entrance lobbies open on to the street and invite residents to take ownership of the spaces outside their homes.The junction with Fordham Park represents an opportunity to provide a more appropriate architectural containment to its southern boundary while creating an active edge which improves access and opens up new areas to shared activities.


A central thread of the design development process has been an ongoing programme of public consultations both with existing residents and commercial tenants. Alongside this, additional meetings with other key stakeholders such as Goldsmiths University, park-users and the local mosque have ensured that the proposals recognise the pivotal role this project will play in the regeneration of the wider area. All current council tenants on the Achilles Street Estate will be offered a brand-new home on the rebuilt estate, and the phasing strategy has been carefully designed to ensure all existing residents can remain living on the estate during construction. 

In 2019 Karakusevic Carson Architects worked closely with Lewisham Council to assemble the Landlord Offer in order that the estate regeneration proposals could be put to resident ballot. Held in November 2019, the ballot produced a 92% turnout with 72.8% of existing residents voting yes.


Karakusevic Carson Architects
Karakusevic Carson Architects
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