Property Week and Savills recently asked Darling Associates to design an ultra-urban logistics hub and residential hybrid for a 2.5-acre site in London.
“One of the biggest challenges facing the industrial and logistics sector is the lack of sites suitable for last-mile delivery. Land is hard to come by in town and city centres and what little is available is often ring-fenced for residential.”
No budget was set and the brief was kept deliberately simple, with designs needing to be flexible, creative and forward thinking.
Lightweight, prefabricated timber-framed housing units are stacked on top of a wedge-shaped logistics/distribution centre, which is orientated so that the roof slope faces south to maximise exposure to sunlight.
Public space is created at the base of the slope, and a street rises up like a Tuscan hill town, providing access to the houses on either side and to a park at the top. En route are small public places and gardens for residents to meet and socialise.
Perimeter strips of housing line the flanks of the logistics centre, and cores connect the varying levels up the slope providing lift access to the houses.
The public space at the base of The Wedge connects to the surrounding residential units and creates a mini town centre, with retail, cafés/bars, a crèche and gym/amenity space.
The logistics centre is full width to maximise access for as many vehicles as possible. A two-storey basement creates the largest volume for storage. At the rear, the basement provides two levels of parking for the residential units. Below the residential blocks are commercial spaces that can be related to the main centre – eg. return and collection points – or separate start-up business units.
The Wedge provides a model for creating new suburban living at high densities, over a state-of-the-art industrial and commercial base.
The hillside design neatly hides a vast logistics basement that operates in complete isolation to the residential space. While it requires a dual-fronted site, it achieves excellent density with limited impact of either use on the other. What’s more, the wedge-shaped storage space lends itself to the inclusion of mezzanines and would allow for multi-occupation due to the full- or reduced-height areas, which would also attract different types of occupiers.
Michaela Chidgey, Savills