Courtesy David Grandorge

A Residential Development by Henley Halebrown Makes the Case for Outdoor Corridors

Open air circulation and eye-catching brickwork set Frampton Park Estate in North London apart from typical mixed income housing.

North London’s Frampton Park Estate housing project up-ends a few architectural conventions: Here, a wall is an opening, hallways live outdoors, and affordable housing isn’t formulaic and dull. The two-site, 45-unit, mixed-tenure development blends affordable and market housing in a variety that bucks the typical uniformity of mass housing. Designed by local firm Henley Halebrown, the ground-up design replaces a demolished pub and outdated residential building where the 1970s estate abuts older Victorian streets.

Linked by a bridge that allows the two structures to share an elevator and stair core, the Taylor and Chatto Courts intersperse 80 percent affordable rental housing with shared ownership homes. They feature townhouse-like duplex maisonettes at ground level and on the third floor, with lateral apartments between them on the second. A discrete third block, Wilmott Court, brings together private sale and shared ownership homes, making three floors of lateral apartments accessible via a three-story hall, with duplex maisonettes above, each accessed from an elevated outdoor courtyard.

Taylor Chatto Court
Henley Halebrown’s Taylor and Chatto Court buildings are located in Hackney, North London. Courtesy David Grandorge

Each type of home is distributed across both affordable and market housing, with the blocks designed to be “tenure blind”, sharing the same entrances and communal spaces across income levels. Loggias, bridges, and the upper-floor courtyard also create outdoor social space for any and all. “The architecture establishes generosity and dignity throughout,” explains Henley Halebrown co-founder Simon Henley. “In Taylor and Chatto Courts, daylit and generous communal circulation leads to carefully planned homes, all of which are dual or triple aspect, so all dwellings have a variety of orientations to ensure good daylight levels and air flow.” Loggias constructed as precast concrete frames serve alternately as circulation and private terraces, providing each unit with generous balconies. Internal finishes are also high quality, with, for instance, oak flooring throughout.

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Courtesy Nick Kane

The architecture emphasizes walls of random bond brickwork, demonstrating Henley Halebrown’s uncommon respect for the common wall. Instead of being an impediment, the wall becomes an opening, an envelope and a platform. Henley describes the element as a “living place” and a piece of social infrastructure, a bridge between private and public, indoors and out.

And there is a lot of “out”: open-air circulation is something Henley Halebrown has advocated since the firm’s establishment in the 1990s, replacing common areas with external circulation wherever possible to create space for exercising one’s social and other senses. “It is efficient and therefore economic, healthy because it draws our attention to nature, and sociable because it brings inhabitants out of internal corridors, onto the facade and into the public realm,” Henley says. Well into the pandemic, the world seems, at long last, to be catching up with them.

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