Nightingale Estate

Karakusevic Carson Architects

Hackney Council

The London Borough of Hackney

Units and density: 
400 homes, 181dph with new community facility, retail units and new public realm

31% affordable, 69% private sale (part of wider estate programme with over 50% social rent and shared ownership)

Planning approval granted January 2017

Karakusevic Carson Architects, in collaboration with Stephen Taylor Architects, Henley Halebrown Architects and Townshend Landscape Architects were appointed via design competition for the final phase of regeneration of the Nightingale Estate. The community-led design process includes the delivery of 400 mixed-tenure homes, a new community facility, retail units and new public realm for the entire estate.

Karakusevic Carson Architects
Karakusevic Carson Architects

The estate is located north of Hackney Downs and has been undergoing regeneration since the early 1990s when six 22-storey towers previously dominated the townscape. The early phases of the regeneration process involved the demolition of five of the towers, with one, Seaton Point refurbished and retained. This was followed by the creation of low-rise, low-density developments with streets dominated by car parking. The result is an estate formed of disparate streetscapes and building styles, from the tower to 1970s slab blocks and pitched-roofed 1990s suburban housing.

The aim of our masterplan is to transform the currently inward looking estate into a well-connected and permeable urban neighbourhood by enhancing connections between the existing disparate neighbourhoods within the estate. 

This is achieved through the introduction of a new north/south street grain linking the existing residential streets, the new buildings and Hackney Downs park to the south. These new routes aim to overcome existing barriers to movement within the estate, whilst a site-wide public realm strategy will unify the current fragmented parts of the existing estate. Existing assets such as mature trees, open space and the established community spirit inform key aspects of this masterplan approach.

Our masterplan is the result of an intensive residents’ participation process, with weekly meetings held with the steering group during the design phase. Along with the residents, Hackney Council has shown a strong commitment to the long-term success of the Nightingale community and the delivery of an exemplar regeneration project that has the potential to form a new model for medium-rise, high-density housing and places the creation of a sociable residential street at its heart.

Karakusevic Carson Architects
Karakusevic Carson Architects
Karakusevic Carson Architects

The project establishes a new model for ‘medium rise, high density housing’ by creating a fine grain of well-defined streets and residential entrance courts. This structure defines a series of well overlooked streets activated by front doors and communal entrances. Particular attention has been given to providing a sociable, safe, entry sequence, where residential entrance courts are used to create a transition from the street to the home and promote a sense of collective ownership amongst residents. Generous entrance galleries providing naturally lit and sociable circulation areas encourage encounter and exchange between neighbours.

The new buildings have been carefully designed in a collaboration between the three architects to establish an appropriate balance of consistency and variety across the project. A consistent brick type and materials palette is used across the buildings whilst variety is achieved in the articulation of entrances, bay windows and window reveals. Handmade brickwork and precast concrete detailing provide quality and longevity. Architectural features and ground-floor communal entrances are highlighted through bespoke precast concrete cladding, which also forms benches and kerbs linking the buildings and their public realm.

Karakusevic Carson Architects
Karakusevic Carson Architects

The proposed buildings respond to the surrounding townscape of Victorian terraces and Edwardian mansion blocks to create a timeless and familiar urban environment whilst delivering much needed new homes on part of the site. Generous Juliet windows, recessed balconies and a regular rhythm of bay windows highlight living rooms and kitchens, and express the human scale of the development within the composition of the street.

A return to an historic typology and a rigorously simple approach to typology will provide a consistency currently lacking in the surrounding fabric; the familiarity of the streets and architecture re-establishing a familiar London environment.

New homes exceed the London Housing Design Guide by at least 10% with increased floor to ceiling heights creating generous and adaptable places to live. Over 90% of units are dual aspect with ‘through plan’ living/kitchen/dining spaces allowing good quality daylight throughout the day. Bay windows are integrated into all homes maximising light into living spaces and allowing views south towards the park.

The project will deliver a new CHP energy centre that can serve the wider estate and surrounding developments. Existing buildings such as the Seaton Point Tower have been refurbished and integrated into the masterplan avoiding the need for wholesale demolition. 

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