Examining the architectural inspiration behind London’s Tower Hamlets

  • 7 Nov 2014

Ensign court is a mixed use development for 65 new homes

Ensign Court is a residential mixed-use development for 65 new homes in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The site neighbours the Wilton Music Hall Conservation Area to the east, city fringe to the west and completes the southern end of an urban block that spans between the historic Cable Street and The Highway.

Its position along The Highway, a major east-west route into central London defines the building as a prominent marker, and announces the beginning of the city’s urban character. The scheme seeks to enhance the existing local community by delivering an integrated, high quality development that takes advantage of its remarkable location.

Ensign Court is a corner building defined by a 14 storey tower, the massing follows the perimeter of the site boundary, stepping down on either side to knit into the grain of the adjacent Dock Street and Ensign Street.

The scheme aims to deliver a high quality development in a desirable area

At ground floor, set within a chamfered concrete plinth, commercial units are sheltered under a first floor cantilever, creating a special character and identity to this prominent commercial space. Ensign Court is a sustainable development providing an on-site energy centre and homes achieving Code for Sustainable Homes level 4.

As a counterpoint to the busy streetscape, the proposals provide generous communal amenity space by way of a protected podium courtyard creating a soft buffer between new and existing buildings and an enclosed roof garden adding a 15th storey to the corner tower. In addition, generous inset balconies are provided throughout the development.

The formal, robust appearance of Ensign Court is derived from the historic industrial East London context such as the old warehouses of the docks that can still be seen in St Katherine’s Docks, Wapping or north towards Whitechapel. The language of the building is composed of four primal tectonic elements; deep horizontal reconstituted stone banding, in-filled with richly textured, light solid brick walls, full height windows with fully integrated vents and finally, Juliet and balustrade railings used throughout.

All four elements are layered between the deeply etched concrete bands which wrap around and unite the stepped massing, creating a richly articulated facade. Defined by a strong urban grid, Ensign Court compliments the neighbouring context while recognising the potential and future development of the area.

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