Wembley High Road, Cecil Avenue

Karakusevic Carson Architects

Brent Council

The London Borough of Brent

Scale and use: 
250 homes
1900sqm workspace, 950sqm community space

35% affordable, 65% private sale

Planning approved 

Situated in North-West London, Wembley Housing Zone has been identified by the Mayor of London and Brent Council for renewal, with a focus on the creation of affordable housing and civic infrastructure over the coming years. As part of this strategy, Karakusevic Carson were appointed to unlock a currently underused and complex piece of land along Wembley High Road to deliver new mixed-tenure housing, workspaces, community areas and new public realm to enhance the emergent character of the area and serve as a catalyst for wider growth.

Karakusevic Carson Architects
Karakusevic Carson Architects

The site has a number of constraints, including a significant 7m level change from north to south, and diverse edge conditions, the busy Wembley High Road to the north, low-rise terraced housing to the east and a secondary school to the south which needed to remain easily accessible from the surrounding neighbourhood.

In response to this urban situation, the design takes influence from traditional and contemporary mansion and courtyard blocks. Rather than building tall, the project achieves density through efficient spatial planning to maximise daylight into homes, dual-aspect proportion and the quality of the living spaces.

Characteristic of traditional mansion blocks which are deep in plan, the residential cores are accessed through a rich sequence of public and shared spaces rather than directly from the street. This creates space for a continuous series of workspaces along the High Road, manages inaccessibility from the eastern and southern edges of the site and negotiates the steep level change across the site.

Building volumes of 8 and 9 storeys establish a strong frontage along the High Road, with the lower storeys set back from the street to reduce the perceived scale of the building and bring depth and articulation to elevation. Massing is broken down at the southern end of the site to reflect the height of the adjacent school, nearby terraced housing and to optimise daylight into the courtyards.

Karakusevic Carson Architects

The canopy of the trees at the heart of the proposals, visible from the High Road, creates a distinctive arrival into the shared outdoor spaces and a public route down into the central courtyard which will be a focal point for the community, containing a series of well-defined play environments for young children and teenagers. Large communal terraces overlook these shared spaces providing additional space for encounter and exchange and scenic views across the gardens. 

The unique topography of the site is used to create a series of double-height community and work spaces at ground and basement level which will promote activity throughout the day and support the growth of local businesses. Community spaces have been designed with in-built flexibility to accommodate a range of uses and will be a valuable place for people to meet and socialise. 

A variety of typologies and tenures are distributed across the scheme, from larger family homes to courtyard flats and maisonettes containing private south-facing courtyards and terraces.  

Elevations are expressed in a rich palette of red/brown brickwork combined with elegant metal work detailing and pre-cast lintels and cills, to reflect the architectural character of the traditional courtyard block typology and tie the building into the surrounding townscape. At ground floor, pigmented, acid-etched pre-cast concrete frames generous communal entrances and helps to give the facades a more human scale, while subtle inflections in the front elevation gives the building presence when viewed down the street.

Karakusevic Carson Architects

Combining an intelligent and balanced mix of uses with high-quality housing and unique landscaped spaces, the proposal will create a sustainable mixed-tenure neighbourhood which will revitalise this part of Wembley, stitch into wider interventions and support the long-term growth of the area.

Design Team

Architects: Karakusevic Carson Architects

Landscape and Public Realm: East

Planning: Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design

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