Previous regeneration on the North Peckham Estate had left two vacant sites behind, divided by a busy road. Temporary buildings had been cleared from the sites, with the exception of two brick water towers, which had become local landmarks within an otherwise fragmented environment. The challenge was therefore to deliver new homes while also creating a sense of place, and to improve the public realm.
WW+P’s key design move was to change the alignment of the road bisecting the two sites, placing the new road on the axis of the park opposite. This unlocked the full potential of the location and repaired the broken edge of the existing estate. New homes are arranged across four blocks, with two taller buildings arranged on either side of a new public open space to form a gateway into the estate. Routes from the estate to the park have been made clearer and safer, and new play and activity areas within the new development link to communal gardens, bringing benefits to new and existing residents across the wider estate.
The two gateway blocks rise to nine storeys, serving as visual markers and framing the new public space. Perimeter blocks to either side wrap around new landscaped courtyard gardens: these provide space for play and relaxation, and integrate the retained and repaired water towers, celebrating their function as familiar local landmarks.
The principal façade overlooking the park is treated as an architectural ‘screen’ of vertical brick piers and horizontal precast concrete elements, enclosing a series of deep private balconies for the upper floor flats and external space for the ground level units. The screen also acts as a sonic buffer to the road and creates a play of light and shade across the facades throughout the day. Elsewhere across the development broad access decks and walkways offer generous shared space. A robust materials palette, including pale bricks, powder-coated steel railings and granite pavers, gives the development a crisp appearance that blends well with the existing estate.
Commercial Way is the result of a collaborative design process with local residents and Southwark Council. The tenure-blind design provides 35 homes for shared ownership and 74 for social rent, and the unit mix responds to local needs with range of 1-4 bedroom homes, including eight wheelchair-adapted units. All homes comply with both the GLA London Housing Design Guide and Southwark’s comprehensive Design Standards. WW+P prioritised space and comfort for residents – with orientation carefully considered, all homes are light and airy with 85% either dual or triple aspect.