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Dover Court Estate, Islington

Words:
Regional Awards Jury

Welcoming spaces replace intimidating landscape in Pollard Thomas Edwards’ 2024 RIBA London Award-winning reimagined inner-city estate

Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright

2024 RIBA London Award

Dover Court Estate, Islington
Pollard Thomas Edwards for Islington Council

Contract value: Confidential 
GIA: 5790m2

Why shouldn’t homes for social rent match the private development domestic experience, with elegant, well-designed homes in a great setting and with a sense of security? Dover Court Estate cogently answers that question. A carefully implemented reimagining of a 1960s modernist estate near Balls Pond Road in Islington, it is a blueprint for renewing existing social housing estates and helping to maintain and support communities. Delivering 70 homes across eight sites without relocating residents, it carefully replaced disused garages with new buildings, and added a ball court and community centre. Stitching together a formerly intimidating estate landscape, the architects have created a new series of welcoming spaces and buildings which can be enjoyed by all residents and visitors in this diverse community. The project exemplifies careful and considered briefing and design at every stage.

  • Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
    Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
  • Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
    Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
  • Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
    Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
  • Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
    Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
  • Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
    Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
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The existing 250-home estate, though structured as a series of building ranges loosely organised around open space, lacked masterplan clarity. It was disjointed, without clear visual routes, and interspersed with garages which, as they gradually fell out of use, had become unsightly and intimidating. A central sunken ball court had become an infamous no-go area. In addition, residents were badly served in their accommodation, with some in bedsits, other singles or couples in homes better suited to families, and families in overcrowded spaces.

Co-designing with the residents, the architect worked and reworked the brief. Thinking about both the landscaping and building requirements together led to unlocking both. Building on the garage sites enabled the new infills to provide all but one of the 58 social rent and 12 private new homes, while creating a landscape with a legible spine and pleasantly overlooked green lawns. The buildings work the space between them: closing off exposed back gardens, animating flank walls, and creating street frontages in an excellent example of ‘mending’ the estate’s urban fabric.

The new buildings comprise a balance of one-, two-, and three-bedroom homes with one five-bedroom home, ranging from small-footprint homes to deck-access flats, a mews terrace and four-storey block apartments. All except the eight wheelchair-accessible dwellings are car-free. Varied building lines, elevations, and plot sizes, with a predominant use of brick and cubic forms, produces an interesting meeting point between the modernism of the existing estate and the adjacent Georgian housing.

With the terraced ranges providing an excellent form factor and orientation, cross ventilation for most homes, high-performance building fabric and rooftop photovoltaic arrays, the buildings achieve BREEAM Excellent and Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4.

  • Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
    Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
  • Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
    Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
  • Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
    Dover Court Estate. Tom Bright
  • Dover Court Estate.
    Dover Court Estate. Credit: Google Maps
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The design increases public space significantly, offering three character areas of landscaping, a new central green link with seating, shelter and playable landscapes, and a new square and ball court that replace unsafe and unused areas.

The jury was impressed with how the scheme re-envisioned what it had with a number of smart moves. The result is a transformation which seems a sleight of hand, and is testimony to both the vision and meticulousness of the design process.

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

Contractor Lovell Partnerships
Quantity surveyor/cost consultant Copping Joyce
Sustainability Calfordseaden
Landscape Architect Farrer Huxley

 

Credit: Pollard Thomas Edwards
Credit: Pollard Thomas Edwards
Credit: Pollard Thomas Edwards
Credit: Pollard Thomas Edwards

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