Surrey Square Almshouses

The design for a replacement Almshouse building gave SWA the opportunity to showcase its knowledge of best practice design strategies that address the needs of the older population gained through the DWELL project. SWA was pleased to participate in this invited competition for Southwark Charities.

Client: Southwark Charities
Construction Value: Undisclosed
Location: Southwark, London

Existing Site Photo

The brief requested a new building and more than double the current amount of accommodation. Its setting, in Surrey Square, Southwark, is an eclectic context, close to the fast-developing Old Kent Road.

An existing courtyard of three-storey buildings from the 1960s lay on the site. SWA saw this as an opportunity to consider an alternative proposal which retained the existing structure, while amending it to current standards. A study by partners Civic Engineers demonstrated the potential of a huge carbon saving if this were the chosen design strategy.

Civic Engineers Proposal

The quality of life of residents drove our proposals. Generous daylit galleries overlooking the communal garden have widened thresholds that offer space for personalisation and casual social interaction. Shared spaces encourage outdoor activity and conviviality.

The lounge acts like a ‘front parlour’, welcoming visitors. All flats are generously designed to M4(2) standard and are accessible by four lifts. Comfort conditions are assured through a Passivhaus-standard insulated envelope, eliminating fuel poverty and preserving good health.

Threshold View
Roof Terrace View
Lounge View

The layout responds to the ambient environment and addresses the climate crisis. The southern corner remains low to let sunlight in. Unheated galleries on the court side give access to flats which are cross-ventilated.

The shared lounge gives onto a secluded court to the south and the grassy quad. In addition to individual balconies, shared rooftop gardens encourage food nurturing and social activities. Rooftops also host equipment for energy generation.

Sustainability Measures Diagram