Red Wild-Bond Brickwork: Hackney Apartment Blocks by Henley Halebrown
Client: Hackney Council
Architecture: Henley Halebrown
Location: 151 Well St, London E9 7LJ (GB)
Like other cities, London is experiencing a housing shortage. But unlike Germany, for several years the UK has been building more municipally funded buildings. The project by Henley Halebrown, awkwardly named Taylor & Chatto Courts + Wilmott Court, which is located on the Frampton Park Estate in the district of Hackney, is a good example. This is how it came about: building up the post-war neighbourhood of Frampton Park with its typical row structure had left gaps where existing buildings had been demolished; these gaps have now been closed with dense building. In two locations, added blocks have closed the edges of the settlement with 45 new apartments divided into subsidized flats, joint-ownership spaces and condos, whereby the last type serves to co-finance the first.
The two structures were commissioned together and completed simultaneously. However, they provide various solutions to each respective context: Taylor Court and Chatto Court − the latter consists of two connected parts − have five storeys. Like a row house, the ground floor and first upper level each has an entrance from the street. One storey up, the second upper level has generous ceiling heights, while the fourth and fifth storeys are home to maisonettes. At Wilmott Court, the flats on the lower levels are arranged around a three-storey hall; on the top two floors, eight apartments are grouped around an open inner courtyard. An important feature of the design for both locations was the amalgamation of two architectural stylistic devices: the wall that encompasses the space and the frame that opens it up. For instance, loggias and balconies of prefab concrete supports assert themselves in front of the closed-off brick walls, making spacious terraces and open areas available to residents. The layered wall creates a buffer between the private area of the building and the public area of the neighbourhood. The red-brick walls have been designed with a wild-bond pattern and joined with pigmented mortar; they display the same quality as the communal areas, which feature heavy wooden doors.
The apartment blocks are typical of many municipal projects currently underway in London and other cities of the United Kingdom. The ambitious residential building program outlined by Hackney district council, which provided the framework for this project, aims to construct hundreds of new subsidized apartments based on innovative non-profit concepts. Germany could learn a lot here.