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The Arbour, Waltham Forest

Words:
Regional Awards Jury

With their exemplar ten-house, carbon-negative development on a former industrial site, Boehm Lynas and GS8 prove homes made from ‘waste’ and bio-based materials can be beautiful and win a 2024 RIBA London Sustainability Award

The Arbour.
The Arbour. Credit: Chris Wharton

2024 RIBA London Award
2024 RIBA London Sustainability Award sponsored by Autodesk

The Arbour, Waltham Forest
Boehm Lynas and GS8 with Anyo for GS8
Contract value: Confidential
GIA: 1099m2

The Arbour is a development of 10 two-storey homes on a former backland industrial site in Walthamstow Village that pushes the boundaries of sustainable urban design. It is brimming with credentials: carbon-negative, zero-waste, energy self-sufficient and deconstructible. Even the construction phase and hard landscaping embodied the ethos. There were no skips: materials from the original site were salvaged and have been seamlessly recycled into the design. The two short terraces of soft blue-grey clad houses have a soaring, angular roofline that generates cathedral-like internal volumes. Working together closely, the architects and client have successfully demonstrated that beautiful homes can be made from ‘waste’ and bio-based materials. The approach is through a gate that leads you from the main road into a tranquil oasis. The hard landscaping along the meandering path fronting the homes is made from recycled concrete and aggregates reclaimed from the original site and the soft landscaping here is mostly edible.

  • The Arbour.
    The Arbour. Credit: Chris Wharton
  • The Arbour.
    The Arbour. Credit: Chris Wharton
  • The Arbour.
    The Arbour. Credit: Chris Wharton
  • The Arbour.
    The Arbour. Credit: Chris Wharton
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The developer/contractor client wanted to deliver a truly sustainable development with an inventive reuse of materials. Together with the sustainability consultant they then propelled that mission to be even more ambitious, focusing on opportunities rather than hurdles.

All operatives were required to sign up to the client’s zero-waste charter. Reusable drinks bottles, lunch boxes and bags were provided. Early installation of photovoltaic panels meant that 60 per cent of the site’s energy demands were satisfied. It was a zero-waste construction project.

Old steel plates from the site were repurposed as new structural connections. New ‘materials’ have been created from old – excavated earth was compacted to create 35,000 party wall bricks. A rigorous process of testing and certifying these materials was required to ensure compliance with fire, acoustics and building regulations. 

  • The Arbour.
    The Arbour. Credit: Chris Wharton
  • The Arbour.
    The Arbour. Credit: Chris Wharton
  • The Arbour.
    The Arbour. Credit: Chris Wharton
  • The Arbour.
    The Arbour. Credit: Chris Wharton
1234

The homes are made from traditional structural timber, UK forestry timber glulam beams and bio-based insulation for the fabric, and have been built to an impressive standard of fabric efficiency with the lowest air tightness results being half the benchmark of Passivhaus. They are generating more energy than they consume through on-site renewables. The over-supply is fed back to the grid, in return for a zero energy bill guarantee to residents. The scheme stores more carbon than it will create over its lifetime. An air-source heat pump provides the little heating that is required.

The houses are two- and three-bedroom with an open plan living arrangement. The finishes are raw and tactile. There is no plasterboard. Walls are lime plaster. Kitchen units are birch ply with worktops made from compressed timber chippings. Stair handrails and balusters are fashioned from timber offcuts. Bathrooms are lined with tiles made from recycled yoghurt pots.

Each house has a private courtyard garden and there is a communal garden with shared barbecue facilities set between the terraces below the oversailing roof. Residents also benefit from a re-use/recycling/swap shed.

This scheme is an exemplar in one of the most challenging areas the industry has been grappling with: genuinely engaging with whole-life carbon from the outset and creating reuse through the circular economy.

See the rest of the RIBA London winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here.

To see the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com.

RIBA Regional Awards 2024 sponsored by EH Smith and Autodesk

Credits

Structural engineer Elliott Wood Engineering

Environmental/M&E engineer Integration, Inside Outside Engineering

Sustainability KLH

 

Credit: Boehm Lynas and GS8
Credit: Boehm Lynas and GS8
Credit: Boehm Lynas and GS8
Credit: Boehm Lynas and GS8

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