Workshops at Central Hill

On 29 July, ASH members met with residents of Central Hill to discuss what is happening on their estate at the moment, and how we can help them.

As there have been no designs presented to the residents yet – unlike Cressingham Gardens and Knight’s Walk – we are not yet responding to any concrete proposals for the estate, so we spent the time getting to know the estate’s make up and how it works, and discussing the concerns the residents had with the current consultation process they are participating in.

The residents elected a steering group back in June whose job it is to meet with the council, and report back to the residents. The first concern they had which they addressed to the Council – but received no reply – is how the steering group should communicate with the remaining residents of the estate. The residents of Central Hill currently have no community space where they can meet. For our meeting they managed to book the back room in the local Gypsy Hill Tavern, but there is currently nowhere they are able to meet with the whole estate or even a large number of residents. Clearly, this is a significant impediment to the consultation process, and is something which is common to many of these estates whose community spaces are increasingly run down, sold off, or not accessible.

Architects for Social Housing

Cressingham Gardens: Design Workshop

On 27 June 2015, ASH participated in a workshop at Cressingham gardens regarding potential designs for the ‘Voids’, a set of flats on Crosby Walk to the north of  Cressingham Gardens which have lain derelict for over 16 years.


We set up a table in the shared garden in front of the properties in Crosby Walk, and discussed and drew some of the  options and ideas presented to us by the residents.


Generally the residents were (obviously) very keen for something to be done -some of the remaining 6 flats on crosby row have been sorely neglected in a state of paralysis for a considerable length of time, so they were very keen to see improvement along here.

We discussed several options:

1. Rebuild exactly as they were, i.e. 6 x 1-bedroom flats.

2. Demolish the end four flats, and build a new block of flats (potentially more than 4)

3. Demolish the whole row and build considerably more flats, or another form of housing and other spaces.

We discuss what kind of occupation people thought would be useful, and the key one that was discussed was  some kind of housing specifically  for the elderly or disabled. There are currently quite a few elderly people on the estates living in some of the larger homes, who don’t want to leave the estates, but for whom at he moment, there is no real option.

The provision of some housing specifically for the elderly and disabled would enable these larger homes to be freed up for families who are currently needing larger homes, and for the more vulnerable people to remain living in the community they know and love, but in a home which his better suited to their needs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe discussed the potential for some shared communal spaces provided as part of this. These ranged from a shared living room for the elderly, a shared garden for children and elderly, rentable rooms for a carer or visitors, etc.

Ashvin from Variant Office participated with a model of crosby walk which enabled people to get a sense of scale and massing, while Emily from ASH and Cambridge Design Research Studio drew sections illustrating the impact of the new flats on light and overlooking that the residents had concerns about.


Parcours on Central Hill

Throughout June and July 2015, a group of students from Brazil participating in the Science Without Borders exchange programme at De Montfort University chose to participate in a project working with ASH at Central Hill.

Starting at the Open Garden Estates, Fernanda, Bruna and Leticia spent time getting to know Central Hill, and  – in conversation with some of the residents they met –  came up with some proposals for projects on the estate.

1.1 vai

They felt that the estate’s landscape and design wasn’t being used to its full potential, so proposed a parcours route through the estate, encouraging residents from the estate and the surrounding (and wider) community to participate in a celebration of the estate through its landscape.

4 vai

parcours map

Click here for a short film about Parcours at Central Hill

Principles of Social Housing on Cressingham Gardens Estate

De Montfort University, BA Architecture, Second year, 2015

image by Carl Dusu

Second year architecture students at DMU spent their second term in 2015 on Cressingham Gardens, getting to know the estate and some of the issues it faces within the contemporary context of social housing in London.

They were asked initially to explore The principles of Social Housing at Cressingham Gardens, and from there to come up with proposals which reflected their research.

Social Housing A Lomas

Some students chose to look into how they might redevelop the ‘voids’ on Crosby Walk*(buildings that have lain empty for over 10 years: see Cressingham Gardens post), while others explored the potential for more intensive use of the gardens on the estate, while others looked into proposals for new communal and mixed use buildings.

Image by Carl Dusu


what cressingham could be, Carl Dusu

Images by Carl Dusu

DMU students presenting at Real Estates, Peer Gallery, 2015

Science Without Borders Students workshop at Central Hill

SWB is an international programme which has students visiting De Montfort University. DMU students have been based at Cressingham gardens from Jan to May 2015 (see other post) and this summer SWB students have been based at Central Hill.

The students are working with residents to come up with ideas for improvements and refurbishments of the estate. (images to follow)

Cressingham Gardens: Pilot workshop on open spaces


Over the weekend of 13-14 June, as part of Open Garden Estates, ASH undertook a pilot workshop at Cressingham Gardens run by Georgie and Emily from Attic. This was focused on Cressingham’s extensive green spaces and gave us a chance to be briefed by residents and members of the Save Cressingham Gardens campaign, and begin talking with others about important parts and issues on the estate as well as understanding their own involvement with the campaign.


During the afternoon older kids experimented with photographing (above), filming and recording various parts of Cressingham, and ASH were given a tour by a resident of 9 years in his electric wheelchair to plot out potential new access routes.

The last part of the workshop was a frantic but very enjoyable drawing session with the very youngest residents, maybe not a ‘consultation’ in itself,  but sessions like this are are hugely valuable in understanding dynamics, how residents use the estate currently, and most simply in providing an activity for kids, over which parents can talk, discuss resisting demolition, learn more about the campaign if they were new to the community or in one case just meet their neighbours for the first time.

DSC_0879_climbingwall DSC_0881_wendyhouse+hideandseek DSC_0893_zipwire


Workshop 1 – Green spaces

Drawings and documentation to follow.

Workshop 2 – Voids #1

In terms of documentation of this workshop, we would take photographs of the specific aspects people comment on, and sketch over the drawings of the existing plans sections and elevations and perspectives of the homes at Cressingham. I would be keen not to complicate this workshop with lots of examples of other architectural options to look at. Given that the houses and flats at Cressingham are very well liked, and we are partly arguing that they should be retained for their exceptional architectural qualities, I suggest we keep to using existing Cressingham house and flat designs as the starting point for our conversations and for the new designs (obviously with improvements people ask for). I have also got printouts of some of the DMU students’ work which talks about the principles of social housing at Cressingham, which might be useful to talk over.

Workshop 3 – Voids #2

Illustration of the outcomes of the previous ‘voids’  workshop, to incorporate the spatial and massing studies we have already done (back in March/ April) but to reflect the outcomes of the previous workshop and drawn up for presentation. I expect there may be several alternatives to draw at this stage, but we should try and keep options down otherwise this will simply complicate things – it depends on how you want to go with this.  At this stage the designs would still want to be very sketchy, while trying to clearly identify any resident highlighted elements from the previous workshops. Bearing in mind that people will be asked to vote on this to some extent (?), we don’t want them voting against it because they don’t like the detail. I presume they will only be asked to vote in principle, so we should ensure that the designs remain very much ‘in principle’.


Workshop 4 – Additional community projects

This attached overview drawing could be used to locate the various possible additional projects (including the voids). Again, this workshop might need to be spilt in two – the first to be information gathering, the second (workshop 5) presenting back the findings and design conclusions.

It could be that workshops #2 and #4 are reasonably close together, but that #3 and #5 are a bit later to allow for pulling together of the information.

The architectural implications of the green refurbishment is not something we have really spent any time considering yet, but it is something that will need some consideration, though maybe not at this stage.