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Bespoke, community-focused BTR at Greenford Quay

Greenford Quay is the first large-scale UK scheme for US Build-to-Rent operator Greystar, creating over 2,000 new homes, along with retail, commercial and amenity space. But there’s far more to this story…

30/11/2020 4 min read

Project Team

  • Client

    Greystar

  • Architect

    HTA Design LLP

  • Interior Designer

    HTA Design LLP, Woods Bagot, Johnson Naylor

  • Furniture Provider

    Conran & Partners

  • Flooring

    Interface, Solus, Tarkett, Havwoods

  • Surfaces

    Armourcoat, Domus, Dulux, Optima, Egger, Grestec, Gradus, Caesarstone, Kvadrat

  • Storage

    Hurst

Designed by HTA and Woods Bagot, Greenford Quay is a new type of tenure for the area, re-opening a long-derelict GlaxoSmithKline site in Greenford, inviting the public back into an area that had been closed off for decades.

Tillermans, Greenford Quay Block 5, is the first phase to be delivered within the new masterplan and is designed as a bespoke BTR development, which will lead the way in delivering a new community on the edge of the Grand Union Canal. 

For the project, Rory Bergin, Partner and Head of Sustainable Futures at HTA, conducted a piece of research with Herriot Watt University into the environment benefits of modular design – finding that just one building built through modular construction produced 40% fewer emissions at 26,000 tonnes of CO2 saved, equivalent to 7,030 vehicles taken off the road for a whole year or planting over 160,000 trees.

The Sustainable Futures team was set up in 2007 by Rory, and over the last decade has managed to provide a wide range of services to the practice’s clients aimed at improving the sustainability of development. In embracing offsite production and environmentally friendly modern methods of construction, the practice is producing architecture that does not compromise on design and is conducive to creating places where people choose to live.

Rory & HTA managing partner Simon Bayliss recently co-authored a book with RIBA Publishing – the Modular Housing Handbook, a practical handbook combining real-world advice on designing modular housing with a compelling argument for offsite construction as a means for architects taking a greater role and achieving more influence in their housing projects.

The block design has been optimised for off-site manufacture, using HTA’s expertise in modular building to produce a high quality product capable of delivery on a tight construction programme, saving 26,000 tonnes of CO2 by minimising the use of concrete and reducing vehicle movements and waste – resulting in a robust yet recyclable end product.

Inside, a mezzanine lounge and coworking space overlook a generous double height lobby, with additional commercial spaces running alongside the canal. HTA’s role has been to design and specify a full interior design package of works, from an early design inherited from the concept team at Woods Bagot, through to final detailing.

‘Our design process was collaborative from the offset in order to integrate the interiors concept and delivery with the buildings’ architectural approach,’ says Lucy Smith, Partner at HTA, and responsible for the firm’s Communication Design.

‘Our original concept for designing the spaces in the way that they are physically arranged was to address the potential incoming audience and evaluate the amenity spaces that we thought would be popular and well-used by residents. Key to our design is the lobby, welcoming residents and guests in, with communal lounges to one side for people to work and relax in.’

The interior concept reflects both the site’s heritage and the incoming community demographic, with materials, furniture and finishes aligned to the theme. The colour and texture palettes remain largely industrial, with deep tones, walnut timber and painted-out dark ceilings.

To balance the industrial aesthetic, pops of colour appear throughout, with greens and pinks appearing in the entrance lobby mosaic flooring (Lucy’s favourite element of the space, which we’re told went through numerous iterations to get right and many hours of setting out!) up to the 14th floor commercial kitchen, complemented by fabric in the furniture choices throughout the amenity spaces.

‘The design concept itself was inspired by the site’s previous use as the GlaxoSmithKline headquarters, and other neighbouring industrial buildings,’ says Lucy. ‘We took some influences of the heritage and combined it with the design aspirations for the site and created this ‘eclectic industrial’ concept, which has really helped us focus the interiors aesthetic.

‘The original concept is best visualised through the finishes and furniture choice. We worked very closely with Conran and Partners, who were appointed as FF&E consultant, to ensure the choices we made worked with the original concept and the interior finishes,’ Lucy adds.

‘We also spent a lot of time working with the joinery manufacturer to ensure that the veneer tones were right for the palette and that the scale of the pieces worked within the individual amenity rooms, which are all quite large spaces. The spaces all needed dressing and Conran sourced original pieces that reflected the site’s heritage for each joinery piece.’

This meant that some of the furniture was designed as bespoke pieces – such as the concierge desk and the bar on the top floor. Both feature tiled fronts, specifically selected for their spaces, and are designed as stand-alone pieces within the spaces.

‘The client played a key role in bringing their experience of the US Build-to-Rent market – we learnt a lot from them. We spent a lot of time in general, thinking about how people use and experience places, so bringing that thinking to the first Build-to-Rent building at Greenford was a challenge. It sets the tone for the rest of the masterplan to be delivered, and getting the temperature right for the site meant that early reservations could be met, residents can move in and start to experience the place as it is intended.

‘We’ve been working on the project since the pre-planning design stages, so trying to preserve that original design vision, whilst adapting to change was a challenge. As the building developed architecturally, we had to adapt our interior design, so flexibility was key, whilst preserving our original concept as much as possible.’

The developer has committed to delivering a series of future events for the community, creating a programmable space of activity, with something happening every week. Local schools and community groups have been invited in to share in the new spaces and help to fill the place with activity. All of the above, plus the sheer quantity of new homes, brings a new contribution to Greenford – resulting in an exciting, developing part of a wider community.

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