A Visit to a Highly Praised Development

21 February 2024

A Major Scheme at Elephant and Castle

A group from the Guildford Society visited the Elephant Park - West Grove - South (previously known as Orchard Gardens) in the Elephant Castle, London recently.  We were joined by several Guildford Councilors and Planning Officers.

We were showed around the scheme by the Architect responsible Simon Hudspith together with one of his colleagues Inge Laursen from Panter Hudspith Architects.  Simon was one of the lecturers at our Architecture Lecture in 2023 (The video of his talk is still available, see link at foot of this post)

West Grove-South has been recognized as one of the best multiple housing developments in the UK completed in recent years, winning a regional RIBA award and shortlisted for the Stirling Prize.  The development is fully occupied with the exception of a few of the commercial units.  The scheme occupies approximately 12% of the large redevelopment of the whole Elephant and Castle area.

Ideas from the Scheme.

Orchard Gardens is a large development suited to its city centre location but the design has many interesting features that have relevance for schemes in Guildford, including:

  • Skillful management of Heights on the various blocks, for variety and lessening visual intrusion.
  • Centering the development around a generous, well planted open space for residents.
  • Well considered facades, using a variety of materials, that provide residents with a sense of identity.
  • A mixture of accommodation including family units, built in some cases, on the top floors that provide private courtyards on the top of the buildings.
  • The dwellings are virtually all double or even triple aspect.
  • The use of inset balconies ‘extend’ living space.
  • Dwellings are built to a standard that is over the national minimum to provide a more spacious environment.
  • All services for the dwellings are routed away from the Commercial/Community Ground Floor Units, which make up the ground floor apart from access, to provide maximum flexiblity for use.

All the Dwellings are sold and the Social Housing 25% of units is occupied.  Commercial Units do have vacant units, this is in part due to a development still continuing to repurpose the old Town Hall.  One of the Commercial units has been occupied by a very popular Library.

Seeing it for yourself

You can walk around the outside of the Scheme which is on Walworth Road just south of the big Elephant and Castle Junction.  See Map Below.  It is worth contrasting the development with some of its neighbours which look like Office accomodation but are in fact flats. One side of the development faces the old Town Hall which is due for its renovation to be completed shortly.


The Visiting Party




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