The project has two ambitious elements to the brief – low energy Passivhaus design and a phasing plan that allows residents to watch their new home being built – and then move in.
Agar Grove is a collaborative masterplan, led by Hawkins\Brown, collaborating architect Mae, and landscape architect Grant Associates, which is doubling the original number of homes to just over 500, arranged in a series of streets and squares that stitch in with the wider neighbourhood. Hawkins\Brown has transferred across to contractor Hill to deliver the third phase, with Mae and Studio Multi retained as the Client’s Design Quality Monitoring Supervisors.
Some projects feel good for the soul, and demand long-term involvement. When it comes to sustainable estate regeneration, and if the project mission is to keep a community together, you can’t start with an empty site – you must work around and accommodate the people who want to stay.
The Agar Grove Estate was a 1960’s masterplan of linear paired blocks and a slab tower wedged into a corner site between two crossing railway lines, north of the St Pancras and King’s Cross rail yards. With two impermeable railway boundaries, the original estate layout – oriented on a strict north-south axis – ignored its edges, creating lots of unprogrammed space to the edges of the estate. Undercrofts and a ball-court in an unsupervised corner all led to antisocial behaviour.
Before this project started back in 2012, in stark contrast to the well-heeled regeneration on the opposite side of the tracks, the estate needed a deep re-work. Residents were living in undersized flats within poorly performing buildings that were damp and expensive to heat.