The site is on Stratford High Street, in an area which has been wholly redeveloped since the war with no apparent masterplan strategy, and is characterised by very tall buildings on the High Street with much smaller domestic scaled buildings in the hinterland.
The Student Experience
The ‘student experience’ is a key concern, to create an inclusive and accessible building with an abundance of amenities and social facilities, designed to promote social interaction and community living.
Student rooms are arranged in ‘clusters’, sharing kitchen/ living rooms. There is a range of room types to provide a choice of living arrangements and budget. The majority have an ensuite shower room, while others share WCs and showers, and some are in ‘micro-clusters’. Common rooms are distributed throughout the tower, next to lift lobbies, laundry rooms and the entrance, to make them visible and convenient.
The tower has a triangular plan, creating a distinctive landmark on this island site, and giving a slim profile due its acute angled corners.
The tower has similar proportions when viewed from any direction. A tower with a rectilinear plan would look more dumpy when viewed obliquely due to the hypotenuse being longer than the sides. The triangular plan also reduces overlooking into hotel rooms on each side and over-shadowing. Internally, the triangular plan works neatly to provide three cluster flats per floor, with kitchen/ living rooms on each corner.
The tower has been orientated with one of its sides parallel to Stratford High Street to sit comfortably in the parade of buildings. However, it has been drawn back and a tall entrance loggia placed in front to hold the building line. This creates a significant townscape event and a more generous pedestrian space at the centre of this environmentally hostile stretch of tall buildings. It is similar in height to a three storey building which it faces on the opposite side of the High Street.
Artists Studios and Cafe
The base of the tower expands to fill the site area on the other three sides, to provide more space for complementary uses which bring wider community benefits (a cafe and artists’ studios) and to mediate between the tower and the lower buildings in the hinterland.
The loggia and the base of the tower protect against potential adverse effects of wind flow caused by the tower on the micro-climate, by creating an obstacle to ‘down-wash’; stopping wind which is deflected down the face of the tower before it reaches the ground.
While the external form is triangular on plan, the internal planning of the rooms is orthogonal. This has been acknowledged externally by showing it to be an assembly of rectangular components in the way that the corners are formed. This avoids any architectural ambiguity which could be caused by a false expectation of a triangular grid running throughout the building, and the recesses accentuate the tower’s verticality, like fluting on a classical column.
- Alumno Developments
- Civic Trust Award, 2020
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Photos: Jake Balston - www.jakebalston.com (construction photographs)