Acton, London

For Acton Gardens our ambition was to formulate a design that gathered the distinct site requirements together into a differentiated but coherent whole.

The overarching concept we developed to achieve this was that of a ‘seed box.’ Within the seed box, each container houses a different type of seed. Each seed will develop organically into a different plant. The buildings of the site can be understood as seed boxes - from the new dwellings that provide light and green places for people and families to grow, to a cluster of community spaces.

This template allows for a carefully orchestrated mix of buildings, where community uses link visually to the identity of the central hub. The careful nurture of these elements will enable the development of a place that the wider community can be proud of.

At the east and west ends of the site, strong residential buildings provide high quality, well-orientated homes as a background for the central area. Set between these are the congregation of community focused buildings - a multipurpose hall, youth centre, community cafe, flexible community rooms and local business spaces, a nursery and a health and dentist practice - each requiring subtly different volumes. The community buildings have strong public faces, which overlook the square to the north whilst retaining a quieter side centred on a smaller courtyard that links the public spaces to the north and south.

By ensuring that the community spaces are brought to the fore above the residential accommodation, it is possible for the community centre to have its own identity without compromising the character of the new homes.