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Great Court

Great Court

Location:Bermondsey, UK
Services:Architecture

The Great Court student housing scheme takes a vacant plot with little townscape character and delivers a high quality building to support the regeneration and growth of the area. Through careful design the building enhances the streetscape, increases the public realm and provides new commercial facilities at ground floor level delivered using offsite modular construction.

Creating new forms through modular design

The final building delivers 250 bed student accommodation over 9 storeys, set back from the road to provide improved public spaces that address the congestion caused by the nearby school. Communal facilities and a café at the ground floor provide connectivity and interest along the street edge.

The shape of the building has been carefully considered to step in height reflecting the scale of the neighbourhood buildings. Taking inspiration from the locally listed terrace houses, the building reinterprets their plinth, body and crown structure. Large full height glazing forms the ground floor, showcasing the public uses behind them.



The main body of the building uses smaller windows and changes to the brickwork referencing the local houses. Finally the crown storey varies again with narrow and taller windows making it appear lighter. A light coloured brick is also used to blend into the sky. The use of differing brickwork and the mix of glazing elevates the modular structure creating a high quality building.

The use of a modular off-site construction methodology reduced the timescales for delivery by approximately 50%, and delivered the high quality consistent finishes required for the site.

Reinvigorating a disused street corner

This area of Bermondsey contains a mix of housing and industrial buildings, reflecting the areas’ history and the impact of bombing during WWII. Addressing the missing streetscape on this prominent corner and delivering a building that could support the Old Kent Road Masterplan was key. Locating the building carefully not only adds interest to the site but provides the opportunity for public realm improvements, acting as a catalyst for wider area urban realm enhancement. The prominence of the site meant a careful and considerate understanding of materiality was needed to add depth and variety to the building.

Sustainable design

The use of off-site modular construction halved the overall construction programme and in so doing greatly reduced the associated impacts of on-site construction such as noise and dust pollution. Modules formed in a controlled environment within a factory using repetitive details had a tangible benefit in terms of materials used with a considerable reduction in waste.

A Green roof is provided on the 5th floor level as a visual amenity for the residents and neighbours making the most of the building stagger. This is repeated on the 7th and 8th floors where further step backs occur and will allow habitats for plants and insects.

By increasing the available public realm and more than doubling the pavement area we were able to introduce new planting along the edge. Not only does this support wildlife and greening of this urban area but is also part of the wider sustainable urban drainage scheme.

Related Projects

How can we help?

Please get in touch if you’d like to know more about us and how we work with our clients, consultants and colleagues.