Group Dynamic

Maccreanor Lavington Architects completes a mansion block of “affordable compact homes” arranged with an emphasis on community living


Jack Hobhouse

Designed by Maccreanor Lavington Architects for developer Pocket Living, Varcoe Road SE16 is conceived as a mansion block of “affordable compact homes” arranged with an emphasis on community living.


Located in the London Borough of Southwark the building’s stepped form rises from six to eight storeys and provides 57 apartments over seven floors. Composition of the brick facade “is articulated into two volumes of differing heights suggesting a rhythm of multiple buildings along the street”, suggests the architect. “Both volumes have generous fenestration in the form of full-height windows and Juliet balconies to both living rooms and bedrooms”.

Internally, “a strategy was developed where amenity space is collected together in a series of rooms and terraces that are distributed throughout the building, encouraging residents to socialise outside of their apartments in generous communal spaces”.


A bright entrance lobby with an open stair leads to a small terrace on the first floor. On the floor above a double-height co-working space provides facilities to residents to work outside their flats. Above this, a double-height sunroom offers a shared living room where people can relax, host events and take part in activities such as yoga classes.

Large, high-level windows and glazed screens in both of these spaces bring daylight into the adjacent corridors at every level, allowing the spaces to be seen from the residential corridors and encouraging a sense of community.


A pair of large landscaped roof terraces with fixed tables and chairs are located on the sixth and seventh floors, where they offer extensive views across the city. The south-facing terrace on the top floor and the west-facing sunroom are orientated to catch the evening sun.


“Instead of adopting the standard approach of providing individual balconies to every apartment”, says MLA associate director Gavin Finnan, “we decided to create a series of generous and useful communal spaces which were tailored specifically to the building’s predominantly young individual occupants. Varcoe Road has allowed us to explore how the provision of amenity space can help harbour a sense of community”.


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