After going to the trouble of recreating its own borough architects’ department, Croydon Council has now gone and signed up seven firms of architects – yes, seven – to design between them the hundreds of new homes across the borough.
The seven firms have been chosen by Brick by Brick, the entirely unaccountable private development company which is overseeing around £250-million worth of public house-building.
The architects appointed, according to a report (behind paywall) in Architects’ Journal, are Pitman Tozer, Mikhail Riches, Stitch, Mae, vPPR, Coffey Architects and HTA.
Each will have eight or nine Croydon schemes to oversee. Croydon Council Tax-payers are unlikely to discover easily how much will be paid for the architects’ services, since Brick by Brick will not be subject to public scrutiny.
Pitman Tozer – based in Westbourne Park. Working with not-for-profit housing provider Naked House in Enfield, this firm has done some work on “unlocking” small, under-used council-owned sites to build affordable homes for those on what they describe as “intermediate incomes”. “Individually, these sites may be insignificant, but taken together, they can help solve London’s housing shortage.”
Mikhail Riches – based at Clerkenwell Green. Among their recent projects is designing 20 townhouses as part of the huge redevelopment of the former BBC Television Centre at White City, and working on the Grade II-listed St Margaret the Queen church in Streatham. They say, “We were chosen by Croydon Council’s new private development company, Brick by Brick, to work on schemes for eight of the sites, with projects ranging from around two houses to 35 flats. We are currently working towards submitting planning applications in August 2016.”
Stitch – another north London-based practice, founded in 2012 by leading woman architect Sally Lewis. They stress “bringing back the street”. “The emphasis on the street as the life-blood of a community is an essential element of all our projects,” they say on their expensively cultivated website.
Mae – were caught up late last year in a dispute over demolition of council bungalows on the Cotton Garden Estate in Kennington for Lambeth Council. Pressure group Architects for Social Housing opposed the Mae proposals, which included higher density housing.
vPPR – an all-woman practice, based in ‘Ackney. Their previous work includes the Coca-Cola pavilion at the 2012 Olympics, and the 2015 RIBA award-winning Vaulted House in Hammersmith, as featured on television’s Grand Designs.
Coffey Architects – another Clerkenwell-based firm, and one which seems to be well-known for its trend-setting work on adding extensions on to existing houses
HTA – with offices in Kentish Town and Edinburgh, they have worked on the new build on the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark, a council which has overseen hundreds of existing council home tenants displaced from its estates in what has been characterised as social cleansing, and developing the hideous-looking “Bad Karma House” in Wembley.
According to Architects’ Journal, the first planning applications for schemes in Croydon are likely to be submitted this summer with a view to starting on site in 2017. Croydon Council’s planning committee seems unlikely to oppose any projects submitted – housing is the cabinet responsibility of Labour’s deputy leader, Alison Butler, who will have signed off on the formation of Brick by Brick, and whose husband, Councillor Paul Scott, chairs the planning committee.
Scott happens to be an architect.
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