This year’s Open House Festival was busy, with a full two weeks program covering both traditional architecture and emerging themes of affordability, sustainablity and community.
Image: A House for Artists by Apparata
It was refreshing to be able to visit in person so many recent planet & people positive (both new build and modernising) projects. They gave hope that at least some parts of the city affordability and sustainability are taking shape in built environment.
Barking Town centre
As a low income area, Barking is an excellent place to witness the postive impact of multiple regeneration projects. I took part in tour by Be First Regeneration Limited (Jacob Willson, Sarah Beth Riley, Amandeep Singh Kalra) around LBBD developments. Be First is a development company owned by the local council. In Barking, which is a large diverse minority ethnic population neighbourhood, much higher than average percentage are affordable or social housing homes.
Starting from the station, the walk was a great experience about contrasting old and new buildings in the area. The area offers variety of density as well as green and walkable parts.
The area has a great combination of quality low rise cottage style buildings to high rise tower blocks from the last 10 years to contruction sites of today. Regeneration plan is based on the idea of the ’15 minute neighbourhood’. New Gascoine tower blocks promote walking by restricting car dominance and use of shared amenities.
The area provides a mixture opportunities for residential, commercial and service sectors. Special efforts have been made to support local small businesses.
‘Phoenix Park’ is a temporary outdoor community space co-designed with the residents providing 995m2 of play, exercise, growing and performance space. The Park will operate for a 3-5 year period, was built with supply chain generosity and a volunteer workforce and is a testament to the genuine co-design between residents and all other stakeholders fostering lasting relationships.
The park has already offered great value to local community during covid lockdowns. Another important impact has been increased trust between local residents and the developers.
A HOUSE FOR ARTIST
Another unique concept in Barking is the House for Artist by Apparata. The aim is to bring art back to the community. Providing housing with subsidised rent together with small business centre next door is aiming to offer long term support to the artist. 12 artists participated in co-designing of flexible, open plan flats. They can be used for both workshop and living spaces. Some of the flats even have a shared space adaptability based on a grid of the prefabricated sustainable building.