After winning an open architectural competition to develop fresh, affordable family housing in Islington, architects Levitt Bernstein’s Vaudeville Court has now been nominated for the Building Awards’ Small Project of the Year 2015. Underpinned by a “homesown” ethos which encourages growing your own fruit and vegetables, this development was created to fill a gap left by Finsbury Park’s Empire Theatre in a tumbledown residential terrace.
Following the precise line of the original terrace, the new Vaudeville Court brings something entirely new to the area, frequently plagued by anti-social behaviour. With space for 14 dwellings, comprised of both houses and flats, the development has been creatively constructed to make the maximum use of the tight 1300m2 site. No surface has been neglected and all extraneous areas have been harnessed to create great “amenity spaces” – both shared and private – for the residents.
While the grounds may give residents room to grow their own outside, Vaudeville Court has plenty of green credentials inside too. This development has been built to exceed the Code for Sustainable Home’s Level 4, with the opportunity for improvements to be made that would take it up to Level 5. With impressive insulation, water recycling and photovoltaic panels all installed, the Court has embraced the Passivhaus style of eco-responsible building.
A communal ethos is also very much at work in this structure. All living areas in ground floor duplexes open out onto communal courtyards, built in white brick to maximise light in the resident’s shared area. With public seating and a cosy atmosphere, this is a space where a community could thrive and grow together.
In the words of housing development manager Alistair Gale: “Vaudeville Court has been a truly inventive project for Islington – from the launch of the original competition through to the delivery of the exceptional new homes. This exemplary development of a tight, urban site shows what is possible in housing delivery with a strong brief, design flair and a collaborative approach with local residents and all council departments. The response from the local community has been extremely positive, particularly from those local residents set to move in to the new homes.”
What do you think of Vaudeville Court? Do you think its “homesown”, grow your own ethos is a step in the right direction or pie in the sky? Share your opinions with other tradespeople below…