Planning consent has been granted for the redevelopment of Amex House in Wembley for Anthology. The Brent planning committee granted approval for 195 much needed apartments which regenerate a former dilapidated warehouse site and will enhance this new and exciting part of the borough.
Within a masterplan of rectilinear buildings and gridded streets that are creating the setting for the Wembley National Stadium, a natural, sinuous brook that forms the boundary of Wembley Parade has inspired an organic response overlooking the river and trapping the southern sun. The residential development is composed of two curvilinear buildings, in direct response to the Wealdstone Brook. A radiused lower building of 5 to 8 storeys looking over the brook with a taller 13 storey point block to the apex of the site creating a transition to neighbouring towers. The taller element is three storeys higher than permitted in the Wembley Area Action Plan. However, with design officer support, GRID and planning consultants JLL, undertook a detailed analysis of the WAAP to justify the departure. Two successful CABE reviews added further weight to the approach.
The serpentine form of the floor plan is framed in a ripple of balconies that activate the façade and maximise views of the natural location. The geometry does not compromise the floor plans and, in fact, the triangular balconies allow for a larger sitting area and better natural lighting to the apartments below. Within the serpentine spine is an enclosed amenity space and a small round tower. Again the geometry is rounded, or eroded, and the plan form allows maximum sunlight penetration to the apartments behind. Between the two contrasting masses is an estuarine landscape design, that swirls and flows and even penetrates the ground floor to leave covered external play spaces. These covered areas lead to the brook and visually join to the watercourse that inspired the design.
The materials are lightly coloured and high gloss metal with white glass balconies. The ground floor, which contains many open areas to reduce built form on the flood plain, contrasts in glass and masonry. However fences, barriers and play equipment are in deep natural red, and add further sculptural form.
“The sinuous form of the meandering of the Wealdstone Brook to the north, provides a rationale reason for the architecture – it is not a stylistic conceit. The dynamic and distinctive form looks great but it also makes the brook a really intrinsic part of the area - and not just a concrete channel which it is at the moment.’’ - Colin Veitch – GRIDarchitects Director.
Much of the planning application’s complexity related to the relationship with the waterway, and how the boundary will become softer and more natural to benefit the setting. London had many rivers yet only the great Thames remains on its mostly original course and is in full view. Others have been covered, re-routed or engineered with some following a natural course. Their presence contrasts with the order and density of the modern city. Wembley Parade has been influenced by the natural setting and has purposely exploited the form.