Hortus conclusus

Inspired by postwar mat-building developments, the project seeks to offer an alternative to high-rise living in the city.

The site is located in Tower Hamlets, an area currently undergoing major regeneration and social change. This project is a response to the short comings of high-rise social housing which has become synonymous with deprivation and introverted living, lacking any genuine sense of community.

17 community hubs, situated beneath low-rise towers and surrounding public squares, are offered as a replacement to the current proposal of luxury high-rise flats. The permeable site incorporates community assets and adaptable spaces that can change with the community needs, including a nursery, bicycle repair workshop, café and gym.  With ground floors opening into courtyards, the thresholds are removed to encourage the outside to flow freely inside and vice versa. In this way, the site organically generates increased social interaction thereby engendering authentic community relationships. The spacial relationship between the buildings create a tapestry of green spaces; the Hortus conclusus.

The project juxtaposes a structural concrete exterior with colourful, lightweight, steel details. Each public square and community hub has its own function, encouraging meeting, growing, playing, and learning, while creating and strengthening the community.

“Almost all those point blocks and slab blocks should never have been built because they ostracise the underprivileged into special places for the poor, and therefore they become colonies of underprivileged people” – Neave Brown