The redevelopment of the former Essex House at 100a George Street delivers the world’s tallest modular building, reusing a brownfield site that had been vacant for more than 30 years
. The prominent location opposite East Croydon station makes this a compelling demonstration of the role that offsite manufacture can have in accelerating housing delivery. Tide Construction Ltd and 3D volumetric modular manufacturer Vision Modular
At the ground level, a garden arcade covered by a glass pyramid greens the south side of George Street and is evolving into thegateway to the wider regeneration of the Fairfield Masterplan and the creation of Croydon’s new ‘Cultural Quarter’. The arcade forms the main entrance and is supported by a colonnade of large format GRC combined with glazed pressed terracotta tiles, and this base extends around the full base of the building. The uses within the building support the cultural ambitions for the area by including a cafe and flexible spaces that can support small retail and studios.
As a Build to Rent development residents enjoy shared amenities that include a podium garden, lounges and a co-working space around the arcade, roof top terraces at the top of each tower with , gyms, residents’ lounges, private dining rooms and event rooms. Together there are 546 new homes incorporating a mix of Discounted Market Rent and London Living Rent. The homes are a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms.
The building rises as two connected towers of 44 and 38 storeys that are offset from one another. The faceted geometries of the building emerged from an appreciation of the mid-century neighbours including Richard Seifert’s No 1 Croydon. The detail of each elevations varies the rotation of facade panels and depth of framing elements by orientation to control privacy and solar shading. The resulting subtle shifts in relief across the building are complimented by a glazed terracotta cladding which fold at varying scales. Their combined effect produces a jewel like skin rich in relief. The two towers are differentiated by subtle shifts. The taller element features a two-storey order, chamfered in plan and using varying rhythms of ribs to emphasise changes in plane. The lower element is closest to George Street and this prominent north facing façade is expressed in a more sculptural facade panel design - single storey bays are populated by origami like large terracotta cassettes developed with NBK specifically for this project.
The differentiation is carried through into the detail of each element from Juliette balconies to the colour of each element and up into the buildings concluding upper floors. To ensure that the towers identities are expressed on the skyline they are crowned with angled crenelations and a return to the grander scale of the ground floor colonnade reflecting the communal uses within.
Ten Degrees is professionally managed by Greystar, the global leader in rental living. Their dedicated onsite team is available 24/7. The team have been helping residents settle in with a range of suggested activities ensuring that the sense of community is established early.
At the top of the towers the residents can enjoy spectacular views from a range of shared facilities including a gym, yoga room, games room, residents lounge, screening room and entertaining room with show kitchen. Other facilities within the building include full concierge services, co-working facilities including meeting spaces and even a dog wash room. The tops of both towers enjoy access to roof terraces with the taller terrace providing a panoramic walkway offering 360 degree views across London.
The Woodland Winter Garden is designed as an asset for the whole of Croydon. It has been developed in close collaboration with planning officers.
The modular design of Ten Degrees is the next step in an ongoing collaboration between the developer and contractor Tide Construction and their 3D volumetric modular company Vision Modular Systems. HTA and the wider Consultancy Team have now completed ten projects with this client team with more in the pipeline. The ambitious proposal for Ten Degrees was to become the world’s tallest modular building, and this was achieved through the confidence and knowledge that this same team had gained delivering what was then Europe’s tallest modular building at Apex House in north London.
HTA benefits from working directly with the contractor (Tide) and manufacturer team (Vision) early which enables a clear design intent for the building from the outset. We can integrate the structure, servicing and spatial arrangement and submit a planning application for a design that we are confident can be built with minimal redesign. Working closely with the team enhances our knowledge of manufacturing. We find that the detailed design phase is quicker and the total design phase gets shorter, accelerating delivery and typically leading to programmes that are twice as quick as traditional construction.
Factory-made buildings are more energy-efficient than traditional buildings because issues such as airtightness, thermal bridging, and quality of the finishes construction can be dealt with by working with the manufacturers and solving technical problems early in the design: rather than following the traditional approach of designing a building and then trying to solve problems with its performance. The controlled factory environment combined with a highly skilled workforce and precision manufacturing delivers consistent quality.
By manufacturing offsite at their factory in Bedford, Vision Modular Systems are able to deliver sustainable homes at a pace 50 per cent faster than traditional methods. Costly and time-consuming snagging issues are also avoided thanks to Vision Modular Systems’ production line process which enables the company to benchmark quality at numerous stages of the manufacturing process.
The continuity of this team working together drove a culture of innovation and continuous improvement enabling the entire project to be delivered from first concept sketch to handover in just over 3 years. The modular construction also resulted in a 40 per cent reduction in embodied carbon compared to traditional construction methods, with a significant reduction in waste, and improved quality control to ensure higher performance through operation.
The towers provide a range of homes from studios to 1, 2 and 3 bedroom homes. 50% of homes are dual aspect and remainder face east, south or west to ensure every home has direct sunlight. A proportion of the development are provided at reduced rent managed by the operator and this is made up of a mix of London Living Rent and discount from market rate.
The proximity of East Croydon’s transport hub provides the highest levels of connectivity by public transport with London Bridge and Gatwick both only 15 minutes away. Making the most of this connectivity to enhance Croydon’s town centre is a crucial contribution in the decision to enable the ‘super-density’ of development in the area at around 2,500 homes per hectare.
HTA has long championed the capacity of modular construction to deliver better housing in measurably more sustainable buildings. This project is a clear demonstration that building tall can be beautiful, while challenging any perception that modern methods of construction need be a limit on design quality. Ten Degrees defines a new benchmark in the potential of modular construction to deliver more, better-designed homes, in buildings of the highest architectural quality with world-leading engineering.