HTA@50 - Acton Gardens
Acton Gardens is a £600m regeneration in Acton where a new urban quarter is being established. It is already becoming a highly attractive place to live, transforming the local area and integrating with its West London surroundings, yet with a style and character of its own. The 52-acre site will eventually offer 2,500 new homes, with 50% affordable housing and a large proportion of family sized accommodation, along with enhanced transport links, retail and community facilities and extensive public open spaces to create a model for 21st century urban living.
A strategically important scheme for Ealing Borough Council, the key objective has been to help deliver transformative change to the locality, to attract a diverse range of new residents whilst fulfilling the needs of existing residents. The proposal delivers a high quality, cost-effective and tenure-blind choice of new build homes and a dramatically changed residential environment. The original estate lacked any identity and was characterised by a feeling of isolation with poor links to the surrounding residential areas. From the outset our approach has been to create streets and homes that will introduce a step change in quality compared to the existing estate and earlier masterplan efforts.
The HTA designed Masterplan provides a cohesive development structure for the 15-year regeneration programme which is being delivered in phases. HTA delivered Phase 1 in 2013, comprising 167 homes and designed Phase 5 which has was completed in 2018. To create diversity and enhance the richness of the architecture of Acton Gardens, Phases 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 have been designed by a number of different architects including Alison Brooks.
Phase 1 reconnects the estate to the wider neighbourhood to create a pedestrian-friendly environment with a sense of place, safety and security. The tenure blind homes are located around a leafy, shared courtyard, with excellent aspect and views of the adjacent park. The dwellings benefit from generous balconies, winter gardens or roof terraces with outstanding views across the park and the London skyline. The ground floor level is populated by private and communal front doors and gardens and the plan is arranged to enable retention of several significant trees on and around the site. Site constraints included working around the existing trees, buildings, roads and services, which had to be maintained until residents could be decanted into new homes.
The interlocking L-shaped apartment blocks link together with low rise courtyard houses and provide a unique solution to the challenge of delivering a courtyard block on an extremely thin site whilst maximising dual aspect, daylight and views. The houses provide much needed family accommodation and reinforce the streetscape of front doors and gardens established by the apartment blocks. Effective passive surveillance with clear definition of the public and private realm creates a safer communal environment. A car park and energy centre are discretely located under a raised communal courtyard, with shared amenity over parking. The scheme provides a variety of homes for rent, shared ownership or outright sale.
The dwellings match or exceed the standards of the London plan and London Housing Design Guide and score highly on other standards such as Building for Life (Gold), Lifetime Homes and Code for sustainable Homes Level 4. By using durable materials, such as brick and stone cladding, the buildings respond to residents’ image of a ‘proper home’.
Phase 5 contains 271 new homes in 6 buildings, ranging from 5-12 storeys providing a mix of tenures - affordable rent, shared ownership, private sale and Build to Rent. The urban perimeter block arrangement has been carefully configured to provide breaks in the buildings to maximise sunlight into the internal courtyard, views out to the neighbouring park and the retention of existing trees to the benefit of residents using the shared communal landscaped amenity.
A standard podium parking solution was negated by the provision of most of the new parking on-street, with some spaces provided within the communal courtyard. We therefore omitted the need for a concrete podium ‘deck’, with the subsequent ability to retain mature, existing trees that add significant amenity value for residents, ecological benefit and beauty to the site.
The public realm is activated with maisonettes at ground floor providing front doors to the street and private rear gardens. Two storey duplex pavilions articulate the top floors to create an attractive roofline on top of articulated brick mansion blocks. Materials have been selected to complement or match with the previous masterplan development phases, including the use of a special brick type – ‘Acton Blend’ that has been developed for the masterplan.
A feature building of 12 storeys is located on the corner of the development closest to the Acton Underground Station to act as a ‘marker’ to the wider masterplan for locals and visitors alike.