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McGrath Road

by Peter Barber Architects

Client London Borough of Newham

Awards RIBA London Award 2021

This project has been nominated for the 2021 Neave Brown Award for Housing

© Morley von Sternberg

McGrath Road inventively combines a traditional European courtyard typology with a traditional London terrace, setting a new creative benchmark for the future of London’s affordable housing. Twenty-six individual three and four-storey dual-aspect townhouses, each with its own front door, surround a tree-lined courtyard, giving the development an enhanced sense of community and openness. The scheme’s programmatic rigour is matched by its craftsmanship, which is commendable for the design-build procurement route.

The jury recognises the significant challenges of delivering affordable housing and so it was refreshing to see that the architects had abandoned the typology of a large residential block linked by shared common corridors. Instead, the development’s courtyard configuration allows each house to have its own sense of identity. The entrances are set under parabolic arches, creating arcaded frontages to the street and the courtyard that help to tie the development together, setting the scene for a vibrant and enjoyable resident community.

The use of London stock brick and the understanding of both traditional Victorian window proportions and more intentional arched entrances and secondary folded windows is distinctive and idiosyncratic.

Inside, the houses upturn convention by placing the living room on the top floor to take advantage of the best views. The intermediate floors contain bedrooms, while the dining room and kitchen are at the ground level. Each property benefits from a terrace and a balcony for access to private outdoor space.

The project’s density achieves a good form factor. The roof accommodates photovoltaic panels which directly benefit the tenants of the block. It meets the Lifetime Homes standard and is BREEAM certified.

McGrath Road reinterprets well-known housing typologies to generate a novel solution to affordable housing. Not only should the project be commended, but we also hope it will be used as a useful precedent that will be adopted in London and, indeed, throughout the United Kingdom.

Internal Area 2,524 m²

Contractor Mulalley Construction

Structural Engineers Cook Associates

Environmental / M&E Engineers Whitecode

Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant John Rowan and Partners

Brick Manufacturer Modular Clay Solutions

Employers Agent John Rowan and Partners

© Morley von Sternberg
© Morley von Sternberg
© Morley von Sternberg
© Morley von Sternberg
© Peter Barber Architects
© Peter Barber Architects
© Peter Barber Architects
© Peter Barber Architects
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