A pre-regeneration housing project in Catford town centre in South London.
Five apartments have been created within a micro development on a small infill site. Located on Catford Broadway, the new residences have been squeezed above and behind two existing shops by refurbishing and extending a pair of terraced houses. The commercial centre is struggling but it is hoped that this project will demonstrate that change is possible and therefore act as a catalyst for future development. The building has been designed to transform an alleyway into a small boulevard, with large windows at ground level to enliven the pedestrian route through to a car park.
This is where the Council has future aspirations for a transformation into a mixed-use quarter and in addition, more openings across the façade to provide ‘everyday theatre’. An external staircase ascends the development, it is wrapped in a metal screen that has been perforated with hundreds of cat-shaped holes, revealing the movement within. Laser-cut cat-face steel plates are used to create a zigzag-shaped balcony that projects out over the street below. Internally we have deployed our plywood digital fabrication method to create furniture, storage, mezzanine stairs and kitchens.
This has provided us with the rare opportunity for a local authority job to oversee every part of the building and allow us to provide some highly unique homes, to attract tenants that care about contemporary design. Door handles, coat hooks and kitchen cabinet, concrete pad stones, even the pointy ears on the chimneys and more are all shaped with a cat motif, with 27,620 such references across the development’s interior and exterior, paying homage to Catford’s famous fibreglass feline. To help develop the regeneration aspect of the project, we have collaborated with local writer and tour guide Chris Roberts.
We conceived a fictional narrative, The Queen of Catford, rooted around the area’s film industry that existed 100 years ago. It follows the lives of two young girls who meet on the Broadway and share their hopes, fears, and dreams - www.thequeenofcatford.org. Two blue plaques were specially commissioned to honor the characters we created, Raven Bjorn and Katherine Ford. This installation project immediately links fiction and reality, the past and the future. By anchoring this story to a specific building in the regeneration project, we hope to present a focal point around which others can investigate the heritage of SE6, while also imagining alternative pasts and futures for the area.