West Kentish Town estate- the refurbishment option

In the light of the Climate Emergency, a local architect has been funded to carry out research into the carbon footprint of the redevelopment of West Kentish Town estate, comparing demolition and rebuild with retrofitting the existing buildings. In order to do so a proposal for refurbishing and extending buildings has been drawn up, including the input of structural engineers.

Screen Shot 2020-02-25 at 13.28.05

Existing plan of West Kentish Town estate, Camden, London NW5. For details of the original construction see this post.

Initial findings are that West Kentish Town estate can be refurbished to provide an increased number of flats, with more family-sized homes. A ‘deep retrofit’ of the existing buildings can deal with the problems experienced by residents:

  • Overcrowding: the existing flats are small, and mostly have 2 bedrooms suitable for only 3 people under current standards. Unfortunately many larger families are living in flats that should only house 3 or 4 people. Larger family homes can be created by reconfiguring existing flats and building new homes on the estate.
  • Damp and mould: existing problems are due to inadequate insulation and ventilation, and uninsulated roofs. These problems can be eliminated by providing new external insulation and windows, and overhauling building services.  The existing wall insulation added in 1985 now needs to be replaced, as it has come to the end of its life (this type of work has been done before without people having to move out). New cladding would transform the appearance of the buildings and give them a new lease of life.
  • Sound insulation: as part of a full retrofit programme existing floors can be upgraded to increase sound insulation between flats. Within flats, existing partitions can be upgraded or relocated.
  • Structure: the existing buildings are concrete, made out of panels fixed together with reinforced concrete. This is a robust form of construction that is adaptable and strong; it is likely that an extra storey can be added to these buildings. The balconies are constructed in a different way, and in some cases these need structural repair.
  • Private external space: because of the adaptability of the existing structure each existing flat can be provided with a garden or balcony. Living room windows can be removed, the concrete panels cut down to floor level and new sliding doors installed. Living rooms would need to be hoarded off whilst this work was being carried out.
  • Stairs: the existing stairs are awkward for many people. With an additional storey added lifts can be installed to each block.
  • Entrances: by reconfiguring the buildings, each block can be given one clearly defined entrance.

Existingabove: existing flats at Cannington and Langridge

Aerial viewabove: aerial view showing new elements added as part of a retrofit scheme

Key elements:

  • Additional storey added to three and four storey blocks, with solar voltaic panels on the roofs
  • Structures to provide each upper floor flat with a balcony (ground floor flats have private gardens)
  • Extensions to existing homes to provide larger family homes
  • Flats combined to form larger homes
  • Internal fit-out to create larger rooms and address noise problems
  • Extended stairs and new lifts
  • New-build homes to help finance the scheme

Places for play and relaxation: the existing blocks can be reconfigured to provide enclosed courtyards with access for residents from their flats or the communal courtyards.


Living rooms and balconies: The existing flats were planned so that almost all of the living rooms face south, east or west. Only a few living rooms face north (highlighted in blue in the plan below). These flats can be reconfigured to provide larger units with no north-facing living rooms.

Living rooms 2above: Cannington and Langridge as existing, with living rooms highlighted

The following diagrams show how existing living room windows can be removed, the concrete panels below the windows cut out and new balcony structures added to provide the external amenity space required for the size of flat.

above: red tone shows area of structure to be removed

above: Colour coded diagram: Green– extended stair and lift; Blue– additional storey; Brown– new build and extensions; Yellow– new balconies

above: view of Langridge from Warden Road

above: view of Cannington from Bassett Street, showing the existing green space enhanced to provide biodiverse habitats including hedgerows, green walls and roofs, a green haven in West Kentish Town.

above: view of Cannington from Rhyl Street

Numbers and size of flats:

What does this mean for the accommodation provided? The EXISTING Cannington and Langridge blocks, which contain 60 of the 317 flats now on the estate, have the following mix of flat sizes:

  • 7% are bedsits
  • 13% are 1 bedroom flats for 2 people
  • 60% are 2 bedroom flats for 3 people
  • 20% are 3 bedroom flats for 4 people

The total area of accommodation provided by these 60 flats is 3,808m2. If occupied by the right number of people for the size of flat, this results in a total occupation of 184 people. However many of these flats are over-occupied.

above: upper floors as existing- 2 modules of 5 flats each (4 flat types)

In the PROPOSED scheme, the total number of flats increases to 66, but they are much larger. The total areas increases to 5,245m2, an increase of 38%. The possible mix of flats is:

  • 18% 1 bedroom flats
  • 41% 2 bedroom flats (for both 3 and 4 people)
  • 17% 3 bedroom flats
  • 20% 4 bedroom flats
  • 5% 5 bedroom flats

The total occupation is 263 people, and increase of 43%.

above: upper floors as proposed- 9 flats total (6 flat types)

1 thought on “West Kentish Town estate- the refurbishment option

  1. Desmond Hirsch Feb 1, 2021 — 9:38 am

    Well thought out proposals which tick all the boxes associated with balancing care for people, communities, resource management and the environment.


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