The renewal of the St Raphael’s Estate in Wembley, North London unites a disconnected neighborhood to provide better quality council homes, public spaces and new civic infrastructure.
Built in the 1970s, the original estate has long suffered from a fragmented layout leading to ill‑defined public spaces and marooned shops and services which are not easily reached on foot. This lack of connectivity within the estate is compounded by its location at the intersection of the busy North Circular motorway to the east and south and by large industry and retail to the north, resulting in an urban island condition.
In our approach, an important focus has been how to engage effectively with such a large community and provide an inclusive platform to discuss the future of the neighbourhood. Through a programme of co‑design workshops, we worked with over 600 households to create masterplan two scenarios; one for strategic infill and one for full redevelopment. In each, residents used large adaptable models to test different options for layouts, massing, building types and landscaping. To extend our reach, a digital engagement strategy also formed a key part of our approach.
In each of the initial masterplans, our response to the residents’ brief focused on creating quality affordable housing which prioritised family dwellings, improved pedestrian routes and a stronger relationship to a nearby park and river landscape to the west. With 35 percent of homes without useable outdoor space and resident concerns over safety, we also developed suitable dwelling types which activate and define key streets and spaces. These collective principles have come together to form a comprehensive design code which will ensure design intent and quality are embedded throughout the project.
From our two initial masterplan options, plans for strategic infill will be taken forward by the council. In this scenario, 370 new affordable homes will be woven into the existing estate and fill the gaps in the landscape to create not only more dwellings, but a more coherent neighbourhood. We are now leading Phase 1 of the masterplan and are continuing to work with the community to progress designs.