Agar Grove, London

Project team

Client:London Borough of Camden

Architect:Hawkins/Brown (lead) with Mae

Structural Engineer:Peter Brett Associates

Project Manager/QS:EC Harris

M&E Engineer:Max Fordham

Photos:Hawkins/Brown ©

Date of completion:2018

Hawkins\Brown acted as lead architect, while Architype acted as Passivhaus delivery architect for the first phase of the scheme, which provides 38 homes that are all socially rented to existing estate tenants, enabling the next phase of development to move ahead.

Once complete, the scheme will deliver five hundred energy-efficient, affordable homes, making it the largest Passivhaus development in the UK. Agar Grove is part of the Council’s Community Investment Programme and aims to promote a ‘fabric-first’ approach to increase energy performance. The new homes are built to achieve Passivhaus certification, significantly reducing heating bills by around 90% compared with conventional homes.

Lulworth House will be retained, stripped back to the existing structure and intensively refurbished. The concrete structure in the building represents a significant amount of embodied carbon from its manufacture and retaining it for retrofitting is a large part of the sustainability strategy for the Agar Grove project.

At the heart of the scheme is a new Garden Square (Lulworth Gardens). The planting strategy is used to strengthen the character of each space as well as providing year round colour, scent and delight. Planting has been developed to support a site wide Sustainable Urban Drainage system (SUDs), and on the roof garden a mosaic of habitat types promotes biodiversity, using species to support Camden BAP targets.

A large majority of the apartments are dual aspect with bedrooms elevated above ground floor level, with living spaces benefitting from the South-facing aspect, a balcony running the full width of the façade and panoramic views of central London from the middle levels and above.

Natural light and open spaces make the homes feel welcoming and spacious. Double height communal entrances offer a direct view through the building to the residents’ garden on entering. Stairwells and corridors are naturally lit and ventilated, with a touch of colour and pattern.

Located North East of Camden Town on a site adjacent to two railway lines, the original Modernist estate dates from 1966. The site comprised 249 social-rented homes arranged in a series of low-rise blocks clustered around an eighteen-storey tower, served by its own shop and café. The estate’s layout and housing stock had become inefficient, outdated and disconnected from the wider city.

The new master plan is based upon the traditional concept of ‘streets and squares’ with an emphasis on creating liveable spaces between homes, and improving pedestrian routes across the site. The overarching idea was to create a place where people want to live, and one that contributes positively to the surrounding area. A range of house types has been introduced including family terrace housing and maisonettes with gardens, as well as lateral flats with balconies.

Working with Mae and Grant Associates, Hawkins\Brown developed the initial proposals in collaboration with residents for the redevelopment of the Agar Grove.

Councillor Danny Beales, Cabinet Member for Investing in Communities at Camden Council, said: “Agar Grove is the largest development in our Community Investment Programme, bringing 216 new council homes to the area and 37 at affordable Camden Living Rents.  The first homes completed on the estate are spacious, modern and some of the most energy efficient in our portfolio, making them more sustainable for both the environment and our tenant’s heating costs. The next phase of the regeneration works at Agar Grove are already underway and we can now look forward to providing more local families with a higher standard of accommodation and a rejuvenated estate.”

Photo credit: © Hawkins/Brown