A sparkling white apartment scheme, straight out of a Mediterranean resort, has just been built in the heart of London's East End
A slice of Mediterranean village appears to have been dropped into London's East End.
Three rows of sharp-edged three-storey boxes wrapped in dazzling white render, have apparently been spirited straight from the Costa Blanca into the less sparkling surrounds of Bow.
To local residents who were consulted on the design of the £4.9m Donnybrook Quarter, the Mediterranean style is reminiscent of past holidays in the sun. To the architect Peter Barber, whose design won an architectural competition, it has more northerly precursors, in the early 20th-century work of JJP Oud in Rotterdam and Adolf Loos in Vienna.
Aside from the brilliant white render, Donnybrook Quarter also has roots much closer to home in east London's traditional terrace housing. The buildings rise no higher than four floors, and their continuous front walls are placed hard up against the pavement edge.
Donnybrook Quarter is the very model of an ultra high-density, low-rise, mixed-use, car-free residential scheme that ticks all the boxes contained in Lord Rogers' Urban Renaissance report of 2000. The 42 dwellings, 31 of which are for sale, eight for rent and two for shared ownership are packed into the modest-sized site at a density of 520 habitable rooms per hectare. There is even a shop, a cafe and a community centre in one corner.
Where Donnybrook Quarter parts company with the traditional London terrace is in its configuration as a "notched terrace" of alternating high and low blocks. At the base of each pair, a 59 m2 two-bedroom flat covers the entire ground floor area and opens into a narrow garden at the rear. Above that, a 64 m2 two-bedroom duplex flat fills the upper two storeys of the high block on one side while borrowing the empty flat roof over the ground floor flat on the other side as a roof terrace.
The beauty of Barber's reworking of the traditional terrace is that each dwelling has its own private outdoor space and a front door opening off the pavement.
Outside the front doors, though, the close proximity of dwellings, the narrow car-free alleyway, and the lack of front gardens are all designed to engender a community feeling among residents. Who knows? There might even be neighbourhood tapas parties in the alleyway …
Client Circle Anglia housing association
Architect Peter Barber Associates
Structural engineer Paul Moy Associates
Services engineer Colin Toms & Partners
Cost consultant Waltham Forest council
Design-and-build contractor Willmott Dixon