Cressingham Gardens plan ‘reckless’ say architecture awards

council estate
Designed for a community: Cressingham Gardens front doors face each other

Two local landmarks have been shortlisted in this year’s Architecture Today awards.

Cressingham Gardens in the residential category, and the Brixton Department Store, headquarters of architects Squire & Partners, in the mixed use and retail category, will be judged in front of a live jury and audience at a November event in London. Winners will be announced in February next year.

The announcement came as a boost for the campaign to stop Lambeth council from completely demolishing and rebuilding Cressingham Gardens.

While this project has ground on for many years, the council earlier this year granted itself and its wholly owned development company, Homes for Lambeth, permission to demolish a single block on the estate and to build a new block on the site.

Plans show the replacement for the Ropers Walk block to be appreciably larger than what it would replace.

The Architecture Today shortlisting panel of technical experts was reported to have said of Cressingham Gardens: “The community has really made it their home. Social capital is the most difficult thing to create, just to sweep it away would be reckless.”

large victorian building
The Department Store in Brixton

Architecture Today’s awards differ from other similar competitions in that they only consider buildings that have been in operation for three years or more.

Architecture Today said this approach represents “a cultural shift away from celebrating newness and towards a focus on longevity”. 

To be considered, projects must demonstrate “a strong track record for delivering on their environmental, functional, community and cultural ambitions”.

This approach “is essential if we are to bring about the step change in performance the industry so desperately needs”.

The Cressingham Gardens estate, which was nominated for the awards by the Twentieth Century Society, was built in the 1970s and by designed Lambeth borough architects department, led by Edward “Ted” Hollamby.