Underneath The Arches / Fletcher Priest Architects / london + köln + riga | fletcherpriest
Underneath The Arches  

We are acutely aware of the housing crisis affecting young Londoners through the experience of our own staff. Travelling large distances to work, or sharing cramped accommodation has become the norm. Following our investigation into housing typologies on the previous pages, we conducted a survey of staff to learn more about their current and aspirational living situations as well as their attitudes to sharing economies and collective living models.

At the same time, our recent work designing new uses for London’s railway infrastructure highlighted the fact that there is plentiful land for housing in the capital in the form of historic brick arches and sites alongside them – if only an efficient and economic means of building there could be found.

Our proposal is to create affordable housing underneath the arches using low-impact, prefabricated units that contain micro-flats and amenities. While small in their footprint, these units are designed to be generous in volume, taking advantage of the heights of the arches and built to a high quality to ensure robustness and longevity. Modular accommodation units and shared facilities will be inserted into and alongside the arches on this underutilised land. Each unit will be connected to a service plinth alleviating the need for traditional foundations, speeding up construction and causing minimal damage to the environment.

The demountable units can be used flexibly on alternative sites in the future. The proposal is scalable and could create dynamic communities in otherwise derelict spaces.

The upfront investment required for our proposal is relatively low, and the effect will be to revitalise neglected historic structures that are an important part of London’s character.

In collaboration with Skanska and Arup, 2017