Cherry Court, Bacton Estate

Karakusevic Carson Architects

Client: 
Camden Council

Borough:
The London Borough of Camden

Units and density: 
67 homes, 134 dph, GIA 7,360m2

Tenure: 
69% affordable, 31% private sale

Status: 
Completed 2015

Selected awards: 
Civic Trust Award 2017 - Regional Finalist
Building Award 2016 - Housing Project of the Year
Highly Commended British Construction Industry Award 2016 - Community Engagement

Bacton Estate in Gospel Oak is a community-led estate renewal project, which Camden Council sees as the model for estate rebuilding in the borough. Built after significant community engagement, Bacton Estate, Cherry Court (the first phase of the masterplan) rehouses the first members of the community affected by the rebuilding programme and seeks to improve the lives of residents while keeping the fabric of the community intact.

The original estate was built in the 1960s and had significant problems including poor maintenance, leaking roofs and unloved communal spaces. Through an extensive engagement programme with the TRA and wider resident group, it was clear that although the material fabric of the estate was in poor repair, there was a strong and coherent community spirit and an evident desire to continue living alongside trusted neighbours and friends.

Karakusevic Carson Architects
Karakusevic Carson Architects

To avoid moving residents away from the area whilst demolition and construction was underway, we began rehousing residents into 46 new council homes on the site that lies to the north east of the estate, forming Phase 1a of the project. The site, a narrow triangle of land next to the Euston north-west high-speed railway line had some severe constraints, including the noise and vibration caused by trains, but was also south-facing and had incredible views.

By creating a physical buffer along the railway comprising a terrace of generous, four storey townhouses and stacked maisonettes, we were able to mitigate noise and vibration and protect the south-facing landscaped communal courtyard which provides dedicated play and social space for the community. To the east and west of these townhouses sit two apartment blocks facing onto residential streets, both sensitive in scale to the immediate street context, with active street frontages. 

Buildings are crafted from high-quality, robust materials sufficient to withstand residential wear and tear including a varied palette of five types of brickwork, glass balustrades, composite-framed Juliette balcony doors and solid timber street entrance doors. Decorative brick detailing uses a range of different coursing types and projecting textural brickwork frames generous openings in the facades. This activity continues through every level of the project from the street through the recessed balconies up to the spacious maisonette and townhouse roof terraces.

A varied roofline was created to give the scheme a distinct identity and avoid the visual mass and regularity often associated with Post-War council housing which residents wanted to avoid. Buildings vary in scale and profile to give each block an individual character and establish a visual hierarchy, whilst being sensitive to the scale to the nearby St Martin's church and the massing of the surrounding townscape.

Karakusevic Carson Architects

The use of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) enhances the thermal performance of the building, dampens noise and vibrations from the railway line and enabled a quicker and less disruptive construction time.

The scheme has been designed to be tenure blind with different tenures distributed across the neighbourhood and blended into each phase, and social value has been maximised by the council through a progressive cross-subsidy model, with the sale of apartments helping to deliver medium-density homes for social rent across the scheme.

The success of the project can be measured in the positive response of residents who moved into their new homes in time for Christmas 2015, homes which are the result of an exemplary process led by them, enabling the community to thrive.

Karakusevic Carson Architects
Karakusevic Carson Architects

Design Team

Architects: Karakusevic Carson Architects

Landscape and Public Realm: Camlins

Planning: Quod

Engineering: Rolton

Contractor: Rydon Group

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