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  • Writer's picturenimtim architects

Becontree unleashed

With the official launch of the Becontree Centenary celebrations our Squaring the Corners project has featured in both the architectural and general press this month.

We are proud to be a part of this initiative and have many engagement events planned. Actual work to the corner plots should begin in early 2022.

This month we will feature in The Guardian, RIBA Journal, The AJ, BD and Architecture Today.

The project will see three squares, each featuring four corner plots upgraded by late 2021. Becontree was one of the largest social housing developments in the world when it was completed in 1935. Generous front gardens along with corner plots were originally green amenity sites key to the initial concept with the corner plots now mostly underused, fenced off or unwelcoming.

By listening to the voices of the current residents nimtim and Kate are proposing a way to make these corner plots more deliberate, to increase their social potential, biodiversity, and sustainability. Nimtim mapped routes where people could play, rest, meet and grow throughout the estate, identifying where these routes crossed as spaces for interventions. These were narrowed down to the three sites of four corners. At each, the aim is to transform perceptions of these areas by removing the fences and no-play signs and creating new public spaces that can act as ‘the front room of the street’.

One key priority is re-wilding with plants and shrubs compatible with the former ecology of the site. Another plan is to encourage informal play and introduce some very lightly landscaped areas that might encourage people to meet. The proposal references materials, colours and textures from the surrounding houses such as, for example, a distinctive paving design or cladding. A key hope is to visually join the new corner places together, possibly with the help of changes to the design of the junction or kerbs.

The design, inspired by geometries, colours, and materials, invites residents to take ownership of the squares.

This is just one of a series of projects and events happening this year to mark the centenary of the Becontree estate.

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