Maccreanor Lavington complete London housing scheme
SAXON COURT AND ROSEBERRY MANSIONS, LONDON’S KING’S CROSS – Maccreanor Lavington’s scheme exemplifies intelligent urban place-making
Maccreanor Lavington’s design for R5, a mixed tenure development at King’s Cross, has set a new benchmark for residential development on this landmark site. This highly inclusive scheme fulfils the high design expectations of the King’s Cross masterplan, currently the largest urban redevelopment in Europe.
Located on the northeast corner of the 24ha King’s Cross site, for Argent-led consortium King’s Cross Central Partnership, a carefully composed ensemble of four buildings is arranged around a central courtyard. The completed 8/16-storey Saxon Court, the 8-storey Roseberry Mansions, the two-storey Eastern Building and the 8/16 storey South Block (2nd phase) are all providing residential apartments above commercial ground floors.
The striking buildings provide a mix of tenures including general-needs social rent, shared ownership, extra care housing for the elderly and private housing. A series of outdoor communal spaces, roof gardens and balconies bring additional inclusivity and vitality to the block.
The Maccreanor Lavington design has been praised by industry professionals for its careful attention to massing and city-making, and for its striking elevations, the quality of which affords a civic dignity to this mixed tenure development.
Massing and amenity space – an exemplar in place-making
The massing has been carefully articulated in response to the surroundings, respecting the geometry of the other planned buildings in the masterplan and activating nearby streets. Taking reference to the scale of the 19th century city block, Maccreanor Lavington has created a massing with a datum level of eight-storeys. From this roofline, two taller buildings project a further eight-storeys up to the height limitation set by St Paul’s viewing corridors from Parliament Hill. In a head and shoulders configuration, the taller elements are proportioned to appear as towers rather than slabs providing the density required while reducing the overall footprint, allowing for more public amenity space and creating a more intimate street scene below.
The development offers different shaped and sized outdoor amenity spaces. These include the central courtyard, roof terraces and recessed and cantilevering balconies – a variety which contributes towards a diversified facade. Many units overlook their own communal amenity spaces; the shared ownership units overlook their roof garden and the extra care flats overlook the first floor terraces. The courtyard garden is for the use of all residents, with light brickwork facades reflecting sunlight into the space.
Stand-out facades and detailing
Elevations are richly textured and highly ordered towards the exterior of the block facing the streets, with a looser, less articulated composition in the block interior – a distinction between front and back familiar from 19th century buildings.
“There are two different facade languages common to the whole ensemble,” Richard Lavington explained. “The external facades articulate a strong presence to the surrounding urban context, while the simpler internal facades address the more intimate scale of communal spaces.”
External facades weave a pattern of vertical brick pilasters and horizontal concrete beams. The dark colour of the rich, rigorously ordered and highly articulated brick is set off by fine finished, pink, pre-cast concrete horizontal elements. A further level of richness is provided through smooth glazed brick spandrel panels above and below windows in subtly different shades of green, complementing the rough dark texture of the brick.
The street level external facades to the entire urban block are treated consistently. The buildings rest on a row of pink precast concrete frames, which surround the large openings of the commercial units, and the main entrances to the apartments. This scaling, and impression of weight and solidity creates a strong sense of civic presence on busy York Way, and a sense of arrival. Changes in the site levels have been used to create a taller unit at the northwestern corner of the site, which provides a pivoting point and signal for a main pedestrian route towards the centre of the King’s Cross masterplan and its wide range of amenities.
The sophisticated ordering and strong materiality of the street elevations give the buildings a weight and presence not often found in new large-scale housing developments.
High-quality affordable housing and extra care housing
The 8/16-storey Saxon Court contains social rented apartments in the lower floors and shared ownership in the upper levels. The 103 apartments vary in size to include one-, two- and three-bedroom units.
Roseberry Mansions, with its eight storeys, provides 40 extra care flats for residents aged 55 and over. A generously proportioned first floor ‘piano nobile’ is home to communal facilities including a spa, hair salon, lounge, communal dining room and terraces.
The two-storey West Block contains a single apartment and the office for housing association One Housing for whom all three buildings of this first phase have been delivered. One Housing secured funding support from the Homes and Communities Agency.
The South Block will be delivered in the second phase and will provide 76 private residential units.