Waltham Forest

Said locally to look like Buckingham Palace the listed buildings and landscape of Waltham Forest Town Hall makes an impressive composition when seen from the main road that runs past it. 

Leading a large team of consultants, Ash Sakula developed a master-planning framework for the future of this campus in response to the borough’s brief, which was to effect the massive organisational change of bringing all council functions onto one site, identifying relevant new uses for the campus and incorporating a new residential development. The redevelopment of Waltham Forest Town Hall is ongoing.

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In an approach that could be described as place-making rather than master-planning, we identified creative opportunities for using land that is currently empty or under-utilised, such as car parks, vast empty lawns and a large under-used playing field. 

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Tasked with finding imaginative new ways in which to monetise the campus, we identified creative opportunities to engage artistically with the site and attract new constituencies of users. We proposed retaining the magistrates court, a concrete edifice dating from the 1960s, with a low-cost conversion to transform the courtrooms into characterful, agile co-working space for the incubation of micro-businesses and start-ups. New housing is proposed to finance the campus re-development and the housing we incorporated included custom- and self-build housing that was modelled on the Warner half-house, a typology of stacked duplexes that is distinctive to the local area of Walthamstow. 

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The historic architecture of the Town Hall a stripped back and delicate Scandinavian classicism needed a grand new public square to establish a 21st-century civic scenography; both grand and friendly.

While there was an obvious need to balance old and new architecture, our proposal was also about balancing old and new uses, attitudes and outlooks. Our proposals included turning the reflecting pool into an urban beach in summer, installing cafes and hosting food-trucks and markets on the handsome but austere forecourt. To the rear of the building, we proposed an intervention that would complete the campus landscape by carrying the formality of the front lawns out into the site to create a civic water gardens - a wonderful backdrop to the many weddings that take place in the town hall. 

Ash Sakula Doughty Mews Drawing Staircase AxoAsh Sakula Doughty Mews Drawing Staircase Axo

Architect: Ash Sakula

Collaborators: Montagu Evans, PT Projects, Urban Initiatives, Urban Movement

Submission: September 2016