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Alma-Court-feature

Alma Court, New Build Housing on the Argent Street Tops Club Site

Grays

Client: Thurrock Council
Project Value: £6.2m
Brief: New build development to provide 29 homes
Sustainability Initiatives: PhotoVoltaics; Super Insulation; SuDS

“The site [for Alma Court] provided challenging constraints in terms of access, relocating an existing playground, ground conditions, boundaries and in a high-risk flood zone. ECD successfully addressed these issues and produce a comprehensive set of tender documents. In addition to architectural services, ECD provided BIM information manager services as Tops club was Thurrock Council’s first BIM Level 2 project and needed BIM support. ECD have always responded well to our requirements as a client and am happy to recommend them to others.” – Keith Andrews, housing development Manager, Place

This new development provides 29-affordable homes, as well as an 800-foot public playground. The homes are provided within a 4-storey residential block of 3-bedroom maisonettes and a 5-storey “tower” of 2 and 3-bedroom flats. The building is designed to create a neighbourhood of inter-generational families, activate the street frontage, and re-establish the building line to reconnect the adjoining neighbourhoods. A tough brief for sustainability is achieved with a fabric first approach to reduce energy consumption and maintenance costs as well large areas of Photovoltaic cells on the roof, MVHR and grey water recycling. The design of the green roof encourages bio diversity and reduces water runoff which is then supported by an attenuation tank buried beneath the access way to the rear of the building.

As a tight site within a flood risk zone, the new development utilises the natural slope to mitigate the need for a stilted building whilst maximising the site and providing homes with river views. The homes have been designed with large windows and south facing communal gardens, private balconies and roof decks which afford usable, enjoyable outdoor space, enable passive surveillance and a direct connection with the street. New tree planting along Argent street enhances the local amenity and softens the boundary between pedestrians and cars. The development car parking quiets the road by narrowing the street and creating a separation space. Whilst the large front gardens and ramp provide Tops Club with a wide defensible stance, the design of the stairs as a series of steps promotes a sense of human scale interaction.

The new development itself has been designed in dark brick in keeping with the area’s traditional construction of docklands buildings. This strong structural approach has then been lightened in the second storey of maisonettes. These are presented within a light-coloured rain-screen extension stepped back to enable further external space and reduce the building mass. At the same time, brick splays and detailing add character and a modernity to the building architecture. The windows and fenestration, accented by metalwork in champagne, are grouped by brick vertical recessed bays which follow the rhythm of the street and break the façade. Wanting to engage in BIM , the Council commissioned ECD for the design of the new development as a pilot BIM level 2 project (Stages 1 to 3) with progression into asset BIM model for property management. This process commenced with a series of initial meetings to understand the Councils needs and identify how, as an organisation, BIM implementation could improve their workflow and generate savings.

Awards:

  • Winner: Housing Essex Excellence Awards: Developments Under 50 Homes category