Cressingham Gardens, Open Garden Estates, 13-14 June 2015

Cressingham Gardens’ focus for the Open Garden Estates was Cressingham’s fantastic communal gardens managed by Nick, Fatima and Pamela (among others).

Cressingham Gardens, Open Garden Estates
Cressingham Gardens, Open Garden Estates

We started the tour at the recently installed and opened rain gardens, suitably apt for a british summer, but happily not in use that day!





Passing by the luxurious edible gardens, Nick showed us his semi-private garden where the seeds are incubated, and seedlings prepared for planting, and Pamela showed us the worms at work in the compost


Ted Hollamby

Both Cressingham Gardens and Central Hill were designed by Ted Hollamby.

Senake has set up a Ted Hollamby Society  which has been supported by the William Morris Society.

20th Century Society have expressed an interest in a Ted Hollamby day (?)

We could look into organising tours around the estates? and or writing about them.



Cressingham Gardens: Background and ASH Progress


Cressingham Gardens TRA are proposing an alternative to Lambeth’s ‘regeneration scheme’ which would see Cressingham Gardens either partially or completely demolished to enable them to build at a higher density.


In 2012, Lambeth did a survey of all its council estates (or 75 of which we know about) to a criteria: (appendix)

Cressingham Gardens’ buildings were identified as having major structural problems, and the costs of this were stated by Lambeth to account for more than Lambeth had set aside for refurbishment to meet its housing Standards (LHS).

The residents were initially consulted on options 1-5.

(1. refurbishment; 2. partial infill; 3. more infill; 4. partial demolition; 5. total demolition).

In May 2014 Lambeth pledged to build 1000 more ‘council homes’, and then conflated the need to refurbish Cressingham Gardens with their desire to build more homes. Following a poorly conducted survey (in which the majority of residents stated they wanted option 1 – refurbishment), the council proceeded to remove options 1-3 in March 2015, leaving only option 4 (partial refurbishment) and 5 (total refurbishment – on the table.

Believing that this doesn’t reflect what the residents want or what can be done, CG are proposing an alternative/ additional set of options for the residents:

6. Green refurbishment – Sturgis are currently doing a feasibility study to assess the viability of doing a ‘green refurbishment’ of the whole of Cressingham gardens.

7. Refurbishing the Voids – 6 flats have lain empty for over 16 years.

8. Additional communal facilities – workshop/ office space etc.

The Voids

In relation to no 7 (the Voids) ASH have been asked to propose how to renovate/ reconstruct/ propose what we can do with the Voids

The construction of these means that 4 of these flats are potentially resting on separate foundations. The last pair of flats is potentially attached to the remaining terrace, so would be difficult to demolish without affecting the remaining terrace.. The whole terrace is however potentially unstable (as can be seen by subsidence – possibly due to a river passing beneath but to be assessed by an engineer).


To try and redesign the Voids to maximize the number of new social flats as possible.

If upon investigation it appears that the foundations of the remaining terrace (remaining 6 flats) are not structurally stable, the new flats would need to be constructed to accommodate the residents of those flats, and would need to be construct in such a way as the current residents would only move once.

Design Considerations

WHO? Cressingham gardens residents

WHAT?– to resemble Cressingham Gardens

in section – split level maisonettes

The mixture of flats (1 bed, 2 bed, 3 bed? How many?)

Shared gardens,

Shared communal facilities – i.e. gardens at front, shared elderly room, guest room (how is this managed?)

Materials – to resemble Cressingham gardens

To achieve as much ‘green area/ growing opportunities’ as possible

(wooden balconies and plants growing up balconies so even first floor flats have gardens)

Environmental considerations

to be constructed with as little disruption to the immediate environment as possible – (for example – prefabricated cross laminated timber)

  • To maximize insulation, double glazing and acoustic separation between flats.
  • Every flat to have balcony and private outdoor space with views of the park
  • Every flat will be ‘dual aspect’ ie have windows on both front and back.

Social Considerations

  • To retain the Cresssingham gardens ‘community feel’ with south facing shared balconies and lots of opportunities to grow plants
  • Shared south facing front garden overlooked by most flats
  • Shared back garden

How Much? Cost considerations:

  • How is the construction to be financed?
  • Would we need to sell any off?

How long would it take?

Benefits to residents?

  • Cheaper energy bills


HOW? The surrounding area is such that construction of these buildings will be difficult to access.


GD has already done a massing proposal showing how we could accommodate a number of additional flats

Existing: 12 x 1 bedroom flats (12 beds)

Proposed: 15 flats

In new block: 7 flats (2 x 1-bedroom, 2 x 3 bed, 3 x 2-bed flats) (14 beds)

To replace terrace: 8 flats ( 3 x 3-bedroom maisonettes + 5 x 2-bedroom maisonettes) (19 beds)

Total of an additional 21 bedrooms.

Still to do: A proposal to replace the existing Voids.

Workshop 1

  • To discuss the general ideas and possibilities of what could be built in this area as outlined above. (not too specific)
  • To discover what the residents like about Cressingham Gardens and how that might be brought into the proposals
  • The resident could take us on tours of the estates – their homes and gardens.

Workshop 2

  • ASH could do a workshop showing residents how we design/ draw the existing homes, plans, sections elevations to understand the existing site.

Workshop 3

  • To illustrate proposed designs.

Workshop 4

  • To illustrate the architectural possibilities of the green refurbishment.

Workshop 5

  • To explore the possibilities of the communal areas.

Cressingham Gardens Estate: Background to Demolition

Cressingham Gardens is a Lambeth council estate in the south of Brixton, bordering Brockwell Park. Among other things its design – built in 1968 by Lambeth architect Ted Hollamby – focused primarily on the estate’s relationship with the park, and on creating a set of spaces which encourage communal living.

Together with 5 other estates in Lambeth, Cressingham Gardens has been earmarked for ‘regeneration’, a process which began over 3 years ago, initially in response to the need for refurbishment. Following the Labour council’s last election promise to build 1000 new council homes in Lambeth over 5 years, to the need to refurbish was added the desire to build more homes, and so demolition is now a possible future for the residents of the estate.

Following a consultation during which the residents felt like their needs were not being taken seriously by the council, residents of Cressingham Gardens estate have started to explore alternatives to demolition.

Students from De Montfort University were based in Cressingham Gardens throughout the Spring term, exploring the principles of social housing at Cressingham, which they presented at a workshop at Peer Gallery in March 2015, and which has fed into ASH’s research and forged a healthy ongoing relationship with Cressingham Gardens.

Following on from this, in conjunction with the residents, ASH and DMU are currently helping put together a masterplan for the estate, showing all the options available to the residents. Among these, they are exploring the design of a small housing block in place of a block of flats which has lain empty for over 16 years. The form of this block will take inspiration from the existing architecture, and attempt to provide a new communal space as well as additional flats for social rent.

ASH are also looking at a series of other possible interventions into the estate, and will be working alongside Sturgis to explore the green refurbishment proposals.

Architects for Social Housing