David Birkbeck's look at the shock troops of housing design continues with a dramatic reinvention
How you manage movement to and from apartments is tearing the industry apart at the moment. A proposal in the London Housing Design Guide threatens to outlaw single-aspect flats, the default setting for apartment blocks built in the past decade. The guide also recommends a maximum number of homes per floor that can share the same access. On paper the guide could be pushing developers towards building a lot more deck accesses. But in residential circles, these have the same rep as spalling concrete and bore the brunt of Margaret Thatcher special adviser Alice Coleman's assault on everything that was wrong with housing design.
Step forward the Bolanachi building in London's Bermondsey Spa (pictured), a development by Hyde's low-cost home ownership arm that wraps decks serving dual aspect units round a huge atrium in the bold style you find in one of those swanky Marriott Hotels in the US. Of course, you can't call it an atrium - it has to be a ETFE “roofed courtyard", for the sake of the regs. Architects Levitt Bernstein has worked hard on the detail, facing access desks in warm woods, even their soffits where exposed concrete would have taken minds straight back to all those failing sixties blocks. But such problems are unlikely to be repeated. Access to the decks is protected by a double set of controlled doors and there are only six apartments to each side of the atrium. And crucially, they're private sale.