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Unity Place, Brent

Words:
RIBA Regional Jury

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Alison Brooks Architects, Gort Scott and RM_A Architects win 2024 RIBA London Award for their varied but unified contextual Unity Place housing in Brent

Unity Place. Paul Riddle
Unity Place. Paul Riddle

2024 RIBA London Award

Unity Place, Brent
Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Alison Brooks Architects, Gort Scott and RM_A Architects for London Borough of Brent
Contract value: confidential 
GIA: 26,964m2

A key element in the 15-year South Kilburn Regeneration Programme, Unity Place transforms the area with a neighbourhood of 235 social rent homes designed to integrate with its surroundings. It not only seeks to significantly enhance the living conditions of existing residents but also to complement the area’s architectural heritage, especially nearby St Augustine’s Church. The scheme offers 100% affordable homes across a mix of sizes and unit types, from one-bed single-floor flats to four-bed two-storey maisonettes, alongside community-focused amenities such as a hub, landscaped areas, publicly accessible playspace and parking. It also features an energy centre for the wider South Kilburn estate. Infrastructure constraints and the proximity to conservation areas and listed buildings posed challenges for the design, which the architects met with a varied but unified scheme to reinstate historical street patterns, harmonising high-density housing with surrounding low- to medium-rise buildings through contextually sympathetic materials.

  • Unity Place. Paul Riddle
    Unity Place. Paul Riddle
  • Unity Place. Paul Riddle
    Unity Place. Paul Riddle
  • Unity Place. Paul Riddle
    Unity Place. Paul Riddle
  • Unity Place. Paul Riddle
    Unity Place. Paul Riddle
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The jury was impressed with how the three design architects, supported by delivery architect RM_A, have worked together under a unified design approach which draws inspiration from local housing typologies, including terraces, mansion blocks, and villas, to forge a feeling of community and continuity. With buildings ranging between four and eight storeys and doors onto streets, there is a sense of strongly defined streetscapes, active frontages, and a cogent urban block layout. All this helps to restore appropriate character and scale and a sense of domesticity to the neighbourhood. This is further reinforced by the use of handset bricks and other contextual materials to help blend with the largely Victorian context in a family of buildings which express their individuality through secondary materials and varying roof forms.

During the jury’s visit, residents expressed their delight with the project and their accommodation in different ways. Extensive resident consultations had informed the development’s design, emphasising culturally appropriate housing with preferences for internal corridors and separate kitchens. The project prioritised wellbeing through excellent natural light, cross ventilation and acoustic separation. In addition, passive surveillance and resident privacy create a sense of retreat, balanced with the offer of threshold and communal outdoor spaces rich in biodiversity.

Overheating analysis and site geometry enabled maximisation of east–west-facing homes (with none north-facing), and 65% are dual aspect to optimise cross ventilation, many with full-width balconies facing the afternoon and evening sun. A high-performing thermal envelope with excellent levels of airtightness is improved with shallow floorplates and good solid-to-glass ratios which maximise daylight while minimising heat gains and losses. The scheme demonstrates a proactive approach to reducing carbon emissions and enhancing material longevity, aligning closely with the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge targets.

  • Unity Place. Paul Riddle
    Unity Place. Paul Riddle
  • Unity Place. Paul Riddle
    Unity Place. Paul Riddle
  • Unity Place. Paul Riddle
    Unity Place. Paul Riddle
  • Unity Place. Paul Riddle
    Unity Place. Paul Riddle
  • Unity Place. Paul Riddle
    Unity Place. Paul Riddle
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This project shows how it is possible to provide high-quality, sustainable and affordable housing, embodying the local council’s commitment to elevating the standard of living for its social residents. Through community engagement, careful planning, selection of materials and, importantly, a willingness of the three architectural practices to share a common ambition, language, and goals, Unity Place has set a benchmark for future residential developments.

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 Telford Homes
Structural engineer Buro Happold
Environmental/M&E engineer Buro Happold
Landscape architect Grant Associates
Acoustic engineer Buro Happold

 

Credit: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Alison Brooks Architects, Gort Scott and RM_A Architects
Credit: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Alison Brooks Architects, Gort Scott and RM_A Architects
Credit: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Alison Brooks Architects, Gort Scott and RM_A Architects
Credit: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Alison Brooks Architects, Gort Scott and RM_A Architects
Credit: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Alison Brooks Architects, Gort Scott and RM_A Architects
Credit: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Alison Brooks Architects, Gort Scott and RM_A Architects

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