Victoria Wharf in Westminster has been named the UK’s best small development of the year at the prestigious Building magazine awards.
The 22 affordable flats on Ladbroke Grove, and next to the Grand Union Canal, are built on a site which had lain empty for over 20 years. It was developed by Westminster Community Homes, the City Council’s wholly controlled Housing Association and is currently Westminster City Council’s largest 100% affordable housing scheme.
Cllr Andrew Smith, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Housing and Customer Services, said: “This shows that high quality and attractive affordable homes are being delivered in Westminster. Most importantly, we are 22 homes closer to our target of 1,850 new affordable homes across the borough by 2023.
“This high quality, contemporary design sets a new benchmark for local authorities building affordable homes. It is an absolute priority for the council to ensure people on average salaries have the chance to live in Westminster.”
This scheme was also the winner of The Evening Standard’s ‘Best Affordable Housing Development 2018’.
Who lives there
The scheme was built with singles and couples in mind, a growing demographic in need of affordable housing.
Now fully occupied, Victoria Wharf residents either live or work in the borough and come from all walks of life, including policemen, nurses, teachers and local office workers.
Average rents are almost £500 pcm below the market rate for a one-bed and £800 pcm below the market rate for a two-bed.
Westminster Community Homes also wants to help its residents get a foot on to the first rung of the property ladder, creating an initiative whereby they can accrue £2,000 per annum that can be used for a deposit towards home ownership, subject to a good tenancy record. Ladbroke Grove therefore acts as a crucial stepping stone for many first-time buyers, helping them towards a move into homeownership through shared ownership.
Work began on site in 2016, being completed in December 2017.
Henry Kiviorg, Divisional Manager at Quinn London, the contractor working on the site, said:
"This was a technically difficult project in an extremely challenging location. We are delighted to have delivered a successful scheme with CGL and Westminster Community Homes, which sets an exciting precedent for the quality of affordable housing being delivered in the capital."
The project had a build cost of £4.5m or £325 per square foot and carried with it several logistical challenges. By gaining all necessary permissions from the Canal and Riverside Trust, it was possible to install a cantilevered scaffold and goods hoist over the canal, lifting materials from the road and into the building by tracking back and forth along a cantilevered beam.
Careful consideration was made for rubbish collection space, ensuring no waste build-up.
The quality of the façade was maintained and selected materials used. Affordable housing is usually associated with inexpensive building methods, but CGL proposed materials that saw key costs spent wisely on areas that have the greatest visual impact, thus making Victoria Wharf stand out from the ‘usual’ affordable housing product.
The building was designed by Child Graddon Lewis, on behalf of the council and the council’s housing charity, Westminster Community Homes.
The design included a colourful and layered approach to the south facade; perforated, sliding aluminium screens, glazed coloured bricks to inset balconies, green glazed bricks on the street – creating subtle and tactile patterns that add interest to the street scene.
Inspiration for the colours and repeating diamond motif, abstracted to a fractal pattern, was taken from the traditional decoration of canal boats – particularly noticeable in the metal panels and green screen wall on Ladbroke Grove.
Meanwhile, the green glazed brickwork acts as a bold visual termination of St. Johns Terrace.
It boasts a communal roof terrace overlooking the canal, with a small gym area.
CGL director Arita Morris said: “We are delighted to have won this prestigious award in recognition of both a distinctive design and an example of high quality affordable housing. Victoria Wharf shows that good design, in addition to well-considered beautiful homes, is achievable despite the significant challenges of this very restricted site. The success of the project was made possible through a collaborative approach between client Westminster Community Homes, the contractor, Quinn, and architect – we’re thrilled to share this honour with them.”
Notes for editors
348-352 Ladbroke Grove
The Building Awards
The Building Awards are a major event for the UK’s built environment, inviting developers, contractors, architects and more to celebrate some of the biggest achievements in design and delivery this year. As one of the longest-running events, over 1,300 guests attended the Grosvenor House Hotel in London to watch the results, decided by an expert panel of judges and presented by popular British comedian, Rob Brydon.
The architects Child Graddon Lewis (CGL) is an architect and design practice located in Spitalfields, East London (HQ) with schemes across the UK. Established in 1992, we have since grown into a 60+ team of talented architects and designers with projects that millions of people enjoy every day.
CGL works across a wide range of sectors, including residential, masterplanning, retail, education, and commercial, giving every one of our clients the same care and attention. From small local schools to working with world-leading brands, we aim to transform communities, create value & improve the way things work.
Winner of The Evening Standard’s ‘Best Affordable Housing Development 2018’ and finalists in the Housing Design Award 2018, we maintain a renowned workplace culture, currently ranked on the AJ100 and on Building’s Top 150 Consultants.
For more information on Child Graddon Lewis please visit www.cgluk.com