The Stonebridge Hillside Hub

The Stonebridge Hillside Hub

Provided by Edward Cullinan Architects



Health Centre entrance

Entrance to the Health Centre. © Edward Cullinan Architects Ltd.

Architect: Edward Cullinan Architects Ltd

Address of project: 6 Hillside, Stonebridge, NW10 8BN

Construction Cost: £17.8m

Year of Completion: 2009

Client: The Hyde Group with Rydon Construction

Quantity Surveyor: Calford Seaden

Structural Engineer: Fife Belcher

Services Engineer: MLM Consulting Engineers

Main Contractor: Rydon Construction










The design problem

The brief was originally conceived as individual community buildings on different sites to complete the final phase of a fourteen year long masterplan regeneration. The vision was to provide a Primary Care Centre, Community Centre, Café, commercial store and mixed tenure apartments to establish the economic, social and environmental improvements that the Stonebridge Estate had worked so hard to achieve for itself. The scheme was developed as a result of extensive consultation with the local community and other professionals.

Main entrance canopy

The Community Centre main entrance canopy. © Edward Cullinan Architects Ltd.


The site

The site is in Stonebridge, North West London at the heart of a 1960s era council estate which was once notorious for its high crime levels and low-economic status. The area is in the final stages of a fourteen year long urban regeneration which has seen high rise housing replaced and key community buildings constructed. Before development began the land was abandoned, overgrown with Japanese knotweed and contaminated with chemicals from the petrol station that used to be on the site. It borders a busy main road, drops a full storey height along its south side and is approximately 4900sq.m in area.

Site location plan

Site location plan. © Edward Cullinan Architects Ltd.


Site before development

Photograph of Site before development. © Edward Cullinan Architects Ltd.



The architectural response

The project breaks new ground by taking what was originally envisaged as separate community facilities on separate sites and integrating them together into one landmark building to help bring the community together. The overlapping of functions allows each element to serve and be served by the other. For example, the café links the community centre and health centre foyers and overlooks a new civic space and the lobby to the west flats.
Durable, robust and sustainably sourced external materials were specified to articulate the different functions of the scheme. For example, the white brick denotes the Primary Care Centre, the apartments are clad in FSC certified larch timber and the community centre hall has a highly distinctive curved standing seam zinc roof.


Building mass 1

Building mass: height limited to match local buildings. © Edward Cullinan Architects Ltd.

Building mass 2

Building block eroded to prevent overlooking, creates a private garden and car park. © Edward Cullinan Architects Ltd.

Building mass 3

Two wings created and chamfered to form a welcoming public court. © Edward Cullinan Architects Ltd.



Model of Stonebridge Hillside Hub. © Edward Cullinan Architects Ltd.



The building

The building 1

Ground floor plan of Primary Care Centre, Café, Community and Commercial Uses. © Edward Cullinan Architects Ltd.

The building 2

Third floor plan. © Edward Cullinan Architects Ltd.

The building 3

North-South section through the Community Hall with flats and Primary Care Centre in the background. © Edward Cullinan Architects Ltd.


The building 4

South elevation. © Edward Cullinan Architects Ltd.

The building 5

West elevation. © Edward Cullinan Architects Ltd.

The building 6

The Community Centre nestles in between two ‘white brick prows. © Simon Feneley Photography.


The building 7

Biodiversity: A landscaped garden for the Primary Care Centre and Community Centre’s use contains a variety of plant types, trees and bird boxes. © Simon Feneley Photography. 

The building 8

Interior of the stairs leading to the Primary Care Centre reception. © Simon Feneley Photography. 

The building 9

The Community Centre Hall’s roof is formed as a graceful curve in cross and long section. © Simon Feneley Photography. 


Design strategies

  • Timber: The specification strategy was for durable, robust, sustainably sourced and visually attractive external materials that articulated the different functions of the scheme. The apartments are clad in FSC certified larch timber and the community centre hall’s distinctive roof structure is formed with curved glulam beams.
  • Insulation: Insulation to the whole development exceeds 2006 Building Regulation standards by over 20%. The cavity insulation manufacturer was chosen because their product did not contain any Ozone Depleting substances.
  • Waste Minimisation: Suppliers and subcontractors were in several instances selected for the environmental effectiveness of their products and procedures. For example, the grid ceiling manufacturer for the Primary Care Centre was selected because they committed to recycling all their site offcuts.
  • Mechanical cooling: A ‘mixed-mode’ ventilation system is employed in the PCT to provide natural ventilation to the rooms when practically possible.
  • Rainwater catchment: The community centre benefits from recycled rainwater which is used to flush the public toilets and water the shared private garden with trees, wildlife garden planting, bird boxes and a green trellised wall. The water consumption of the apartments’ sanitaryware is restricted.
  • Community: The facility management of the whole scheme is carried out by the local community-led housing association Hillside Housing Trust. The Community rents out the building to the PCC, café and mini-superstore and uses this regular revenue to cross fund a range of initiatives and activities including:
    • The Stonebridge Training and Employment Project (STEP).
    • A range of volunteering programmes which aim to place people in employment both within the scheme and in local jobs.
    • A child minding qualification for people with English as a second language.
    • Computer training – upskilling people for the workplace – in the IT suite which also provides free internet access for job searchers.
    • An Information Advice and Guidance (IAG) course –which includes benefits and employment for older people.
    • A dance studio for local dance troupes and sport clubs.
    • An after school support club to help children and teenagers in their educational attainment.
    • Sponsoring people to go to college.
    • The community hall hosts weddings, funerals, christenings, religious meetings and celebrations of achievement.
    • The contractor employed 20% local labour to help build the scheme and a third of the centre’s workforce is from the local community.


Lessons learned

This is a rare example of a project driven by economic, social and environmental sustainability. The innovative strategy of bringing together the separate community functions into a single building envelope has proved to be a resounding success. The building brings user groups of the different building areas together, fostering strong community spirit. We would therefore consider this typological "experiment" a good strategy to transfer to other projects. The design team worked hard together to meet the technical challenges arising as a result of making a mixed-use building work. Finally, establishing a good working relationship with the contractor turned out to be essential to the effective realisation of a high quality build. We worked closely with the builder to develop designs that were buildable, cost efficient and elegant.


Take this further

  • Building Magazine - 17th April 2009
  • Architecture Today Brick Bulletin - Summer 2009
  • Plan Magazine - 16th November 2009


Awards and assessments:

  • EcoHomes 'Very Good' rating
  • NEAT 'Excellent' rating
  • What House Silver Award for Best Starter Home 2009
  • Building Awards Best Housing Project Shortlist 2009
  • Winner of the Mail on Sunday British Home Awards - Mixed-Use Regeneration Development of the Year 2009
  • Wood Awards 2009 - Structural Category: Highly Commended
  • Shortlisted Regeneration & Renewal Awards 2009
  • Building for Life GOLD standard
  • Shortlisted for RIBA Awards London North West
  • Sustain Magazine Award for Design and Architecture 2010
  • CABE Case Study in preparation


Related case studies

Timber, InsulationRainwater catchment, Community