Sutherland Road

Levitt Bernstein

Architect: Levitt Bernstein
Location: London, United Kingdom
Site area: 0.43ha
Year: 2017
Photography: Tim Crocker

Sutherland Road is a new community in Walthamstow, east London, previously occupied by semi-derelict industrial buildings. Following the residential-led redevelopment of other nearby sites, there was an opportunity to continue the regeneration of the area and better serve local residents.

We were invited to work on the scheme by East Thames Housing Group, having previously collaborated with them on Papermill Place, a large affordable housing development over the road. This time, our brief was to provide a mixture of affordable housing tenures, space for a group of local doctors who wanted to set up a new practice, and an attractive landscape to tie these elements together.

The challenge was to create a new, mixed-tenure community that could work with the wildly differing neighbours: muscular enough to sit in a light industrial context, but sensitive enough to work with the smaller houses behind. In addition, the design had to provide a sense of place, and create an identity for an entirely new neighbourhood.

Designed as a cohesive whole, the scheme provides 59 new affordable homes, a shared communal garden and health centre.

The courtyard form takes aesthetic cues from the industrial setting. The street elevation is wrapped in brick with a ‘random’ pattern of windows and balconies. Regular holes punched through give views of the courtyard, whilst the distinctive, irregular saw-toothed roof creates a sense of individuality. In contrast, the mews houses have a more traditional form, which is offset by the striking red corrugated metal cladding, playing on the industrial context and giving these houses a strong identity. Notably, all homes, whether one or two bedroom apartments or three bedroom mews houses, are affordable and dual aspect.

A variety of external environments are provided for residents, including formal lawns, a communal terrace and toddler’s play area. This space is designed to encourage informal use, whilst responding to the site’s industrial heritage by featuring small timber trains sat on inlaid steel ‘tracks’. More widely, the landscape plays a crucial role in unifying the scheme. The red of the mews homes spreads through the central courtyard through the use of innovative recycled glass paving units and various planting species.