Heron Court is a new-build residential development in Thamesmead, London. Comprising 18 new units, Bell Phillips Architects intended this scheme to be a focal point in the residential sector, with an emphasis on high quality design, construction and sustainable living. The scheme replaces an existing post-war sheltered accommodation block, and creates a memorable and well-functioning space which has been designed around the community and site’s needs. The new development is mixed tenure and offers a variety of accommodation including 3-bedroom maisonettes for larger families.
Bell Phillips Architects have designed the units into two buildings, facing onto a communal garden to the west and towards a canal to the east. The buildings are positioned from a pivot point at the north end of the site to create a private tree-filled south-facing courtyard. The smaller building sits at the apex of a bend in the canal and is angled to provide residents with picturesque views in all directions as well as making the most of this corner site. The lower longer building provides a formal relationship to the adjacent garden punctuated with a series of balconies. Communal interaction was prioritised in the design with a shared communal garden aiming to enhance a community feel. Residents are encouraged into the west facing garden, where people can socialise, relax and play amongst a variety of hard and soft landscaping. The units surround the garden and help define the space, with openings between the buildings allowing views between the garden and the canal.Externally three main materials are used: brick, timber and steel all working together in creating a robust building and a real sense of performance. Brick is carefully used as to not distract from the striking elevations articulated by timber fins. This language is replicated in the galvanised steel structure that supports the balconies and walkways. The formal language and materiality of the scheme consciously reflects and compliments the dense canopy of trees that envelop the site.
Sustainability of the scheme was critical in terms of the buildings proposed footprint, distance between properties, environmental impact and lifetime maintenance costs. The design and construction of the scheme was aimed to maximize quality and space whilst maintaining a low overall construction cost to ensure the development is truly affordable for local people. Its relationship to the surrounding dense canopy of trees and site envelope creates a comfortable environment for all residents.