LOM delivers new housing scheme on historic Bata Factory site
UK practice LOM architecture and design has delivered fifty new homes on the site of the former Bata shoe factory in East Tilbury, Essex, for developer Hexa Homes. Situated next to the historic 1930s building, the scheme references the factory’s Bauhaus-influenced design by delivering a modernist housing vision of distinct, simple forms with carefully-considered public and private spaces, unifying details and shared surfaces.
The design was taken to planning level by RAW Architecture, and was developed and realised on site by LOM. The scheme sits adjacent to the landmark shoe factory, originally opened in 1933 by Czech industrialist Thomas Bata. The historic site includes four listed factory buildings and required a contextually sensitive housing scheme that would sit comfortably within the wider East Tilbury (Bata) Conservation Area.
Inspired by the original workers’ housing, LOM has delivered a range of 2-, 3-, and 4-bedroom houses, whose ‘cubic rectilinear’ form references the simplicity of the Modernist movement. The houses are arranged in a distinctive ‘conjoined detached’ format, whereby dwellings only share one wall – the first floor bedroom wall – as part of a new hybrid scheme of detached and terraced housing for the area.
The use of dark grey and metallic materials recall the site’s industrial heritage, including the balconies, window frames and steelwork of the entrance gates. The exterior of the houses alternate between a white render and a contrasting brick finish to provide richness, texture and a reference to the wellknown Bata houses in Zlin, Czech Republic. Photovoltaic panels are fitted to the shallow pitched roofs, and planting used to break up the hard landscape materials and built forms.
LOM adopted a standardised design approach in order to achieve a simplicity of form throughout Bata Mews, while simultaneously delivering a cost-efficient build for the developer. Given the historic nature of the site, English Heritage were involved throughout the design and planning process. Bata’s arrival in the area in the early 1930s, along with the associated housing and community infrastructure development, sparked the area’s growth from small rural settlements into a thriving industrial community. Although Bata ceased operating on the site in 2007, LOM’s scheme aims to revitalise this post-industrial landscape by providing new, family-friendly homes which seek to foster a revitalised sense of community.
Simon Bird, Director, LOM architecture and design, says: “Our goal was to deliver attractively-priced modernist houses. Re-assessing the design principles set out by RAW, we maximised standardisation, retained the simplicity of form and developed an achievable level of quality across all details to enable a cost-efficient solution to the project’s various technical constraints, while respecting the Bauhaus intent and philosophy.”
Philip Ashton-Jones, Director, Hexa Homes Ltd, adds: “It is fantastic to see the wealth of ideas from our creative professional team brought to fruition. I really like how the design helps to build community, from the clever arrangement of the housing, to the traffic-calming effect of the shared surface roads. The best part for me is when new residents feedback their own pride in Bata Mews.”