Clarence Mews

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Client Developer: The Clarence Mews Development Group

Construction Costs: £600,000

Completion: 2002

An innovative interpretation of an urban terrace, this mixed development enlivens a run down area of East London, incorporating flats, a house, workshops and studios. The front facade forms a striking and secure entrance with offices, flats and roof terraces overlooking the public zone of the street, while the rear elevation is softer, facing into private gardens. The scheme won a Civic Trust Award in 2004. The development is the opposite of a gated community, addressing the street and urban environment in an inclusive and enlivening manner whilst creating secure and open environments for living and working.

Clarence Mews is a small alley in Hackney, London E5 sandwiched between Georgian listed houses on Clapton Square (1820's) and the Pembury Estate (1950's-70's). The Mews had become neglected and run down; fear of crime and persistence of drug dealing had forced small businesses and workshops to close down, and most of the properties down the Mews were empty and derelict. In the late 1990's the planners, recognising the inherent problems facing Zoned Employment Areas in inner cities, gave planning permission for several mixed use developments integrating workshops and offices with residential units.

Each unit has its own front door to the street. The compact but spacious flats at first floor level are open plan with a central atrium allowing light and natural ventilation to permeate the space. Bathrooms and kitchen are tucked beneath a mezzanine accessed by a system of storage steps. A door to the roof terrace leads from the mezzanine, providing generous outside space in the dense city environment. The Clarence Mews development has breathed new life into the dense and complex urban fabric by celebrating the proximity of people's homes to their places of work.