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Open Havelock
West London

Urban Strategy

Open Havelock is a meanwhile project commissioned by the GLA, LB Ealing and Catalyst Housing. There is an expanse of garages within the Havelock estate in Southall that are closed and empty. The ambition of this ongoing project is to transform these garages, the adjacent undercrofts and their adjoining grounds into an active space that will serve the community for up to ten years whilst construction progresses on the first phases of the long term regeneration of the estate. Our feasibility report identified and evidenced activities that these spaces could host and presented generous and transformative design proposals for them that are beginning to materialise on site. The project has received Good Growth funding and is due to complete next year.

Green courtyard at Willowbrook South with undercrofts beyond

Design proposals focus on the Willowbrook block within the wider estate. The Grand Union Canal is a huge asset to the site that is currently underutilsed. At the southern end of the Willowbrook block, a base for a canoe club called the Sharks is proposed. The garages and undercrofts will be remodelled to hold a community gym/ multipurpose room, boat storage, changing facilities and a kitchenette that open on to a garden courtyard.

Axonometric of canoe club proposal for Willowbrook South

View of canoe storage with new entry beyond

View through toy library and covered spill out to garden

Axonometric of garden and toy library

View of garden looking towards toy library

The proposal for the northern end of the block brings an inaccessible, green space back into use as an enclosed and secure play garden. The adjacent garages and undercrofts will become a toy library with a covered spill out area that leads on to the garden. Entry is through a pramshed behind the garages. In this sequence, the visitor passes from a small space into a larger space and from interior to exterior in degrees.

Two questions in three languages

In order to engage the public and the local community, an identity was created for the project under the name Open Havelock. A series of screen printed posters and flyers were distributed across the estate asking two questions in three languages (Somali, Punjabi and English) and a website, openhavelock.com, was set up to capture informal activity in an online map. Transcribed long form interviews by the Decorators form a rich portrait of perceptions of the estate and its everyday use. Listen to them here soundcloud.com/user-445787173/havelock-conversations.

Online form to capture and map informal activity

Play session, Willowbrook North

Our feasibility report phased the proposals so that they could be mobilised in advance of full funding being secured. Through small scale interventions and programmed activities, each proposal is enacted on site at concept design stage which tests assumptions around its operation and functionality and informs design development. The garages at Willowbrook South have been licensed and adapted for boat storage and at Willowbrook North, a series of play sessions have been commissioned in the garden and undercrofts.