Taylor Court and Chatto Court, together with Wilmott Court, form a pair of mixed-tenure housing accommodating 45 new homes commissioned by the Hackney Council on two sites at the edge of the post-war Frampton Park Estate.
Located some 300m apart along Well Street, Taylor Court and Chatto Court rise from the empty site of the previously demolished Frampton Arms pub, whilst Wilmott Court replaces Lyttelton House, a small building which accommodated six homes that no longer met modern requirements.
Designed by Henley Halebrown, these buildings were jointly commissioned and completed, but remain distinct responses to their different contexts and programmes. Nonetheless, all the buildings explore meaningful ways in which architecture can support a social infrastructure in the city. The grouping and massing of the new housing blocks negotiate between the contrasting urban conditions of the post-war estate and the Victorian street, repairing the urban fabric in a way that extends the public realm. Each building occupies its respective site with generous external public space interwoven along the street and within the estate.
An important aspect of the design is the bringing together of two architectural traditions: one where the wall is used to contain rooms within monolithic forms; the other where the frame is used to create space. Loggias are composed of precast concrete columns and balcony units, which in turn support brick walls and create open-air circulation and generous balconies for residents. The wall is thus an active part in how the architecture responds to its community and is itself a social space. Its liminality heightens residents’ awareness of their environment, the seasons and weather. The layered wall also creates a buffer between the private domain of the home and the public one of the Borough.
This notion of sociality through a heightened awareness of belonging to a place is further emphasised in the richness of housing typologies present at the two sites. Taylor Court and Chatto Court – the latter formed of two connected parts - are five-storey buildings with street-level townhouses on the two lower floors, while the upper storeys house lateral apartments on the piano nobile with duplex maisonettes above.
Taylor and Chatto Courts comprise three villas, two of which share a core and are connected by bridges, and are located on the south side of an open court. The tripartite plan, creating breaks in the building mass, reduces the impact on the microclimate and improves permeability between street and estate. Their frames are orientated to fragments of lawn, binding the inhabitants with the unlikely parkland that separates the archipelago of buildings on the estate. All of the buildings’ capacity to negotiate between Modernist estate and Victorian street, and to transform the public realm and green open spaces, became the focus for planning and consultation.
Wilmott Court, like a palazzo, is planned around a central volume and occupies a whole urban block. The first three floors are planned around a hall and stair, and lit by an open court above, around which there are eight homes.
This range of accommodation makes for an exceptionally varied and engaging group of homes that prioritises the individual experience in purposeful opposition to more anonymous mass housing. Entrances and communal areas reiterate this in the way they range from the lofty to the more intimate to accommodate both a collective and singular appreciation of these shared spaces.
The dignity and wellbeing of residents is key, as is the capacity of a building to orientate inhabitants to the environment. Thus, some 90% of homes are dual or triple aspect; the journey from street to home choreographed with loggias, courts, generous hallways and conspicuous staircases; and the requirement for outdoor amenity space the inspiration for an architecture at the threshold between domestic interior and urban landscape in all its guises.
The handmade-brick buildings are separated but the use of a red pigmented flush mortar clearly identifies them as a pair within Hackney. This civic quality is also present in the art historical play in the buildings which finds a distinctly picturesque expression at the former Frampton Arms site with the arched bridge connecting Chatto Court’s two apartment blocks. At Wilmott Court, the wedge-shaped footprint of the building reinforces the historic curvature of the street line thereby addressing the urban grain and improving its legibility.
Taylor Court, Chatto Court and Wilmott Court are part of Hackney Council’s ambitious programme of new Council housing, which is providing hundreds of new Council homes through an innovative, in-house and not-for-profit approach – with genuinely affordable homes paid for through selling some homes outright in the absence of government funding.
Established in 1995, Henley Halebrown has evolved into an award-winning practice of education, healthcare, residential, commercial, arts buildings and ‘adaptive reuse’ projects.
Whilst working extensively across Europe and Russia on masterplanning, residential and arts projects for the past 15 years, the practice has also won eight RIBA awards; three in 2018 - Chadwick Hall, De Beauvoir Block and Kings Crescent (which also won the New London Awards Mayor’s Prize); and prior to this, Shepherdess Walk, Talkback TV, St. Benedict’s School, Junction Arts & Civic Centre and the Akerman Health Centre, which made the RIBA Stirling Prize midlist in 2013. In 2018 Chadwick Hall was shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize, whilst nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture in 2019.
Teaching, writing and research is key, and 2018 saw the publication of a monograph by Swiss publishers Quart Verlag in their De Aedibus International series.