Nightingale Estate

Hackney Council
London Borough of Hackney
The Nightingale Estate is part of the London Borough of Hackney's estate regeneration programme. The brief was to prepare a strategy for integrating the new residential development into the context of the existing estate. The aim was to create a legible public realm across the entire estate to provide a place that responds to the needs of both current residents and new development, one that helps to foster and build on the existing neighbourhood feel. Hackney's development proposals include a new development of 420 residential units, approximately a third of the overall estate area. The strategy for public realm improvements extends to working with the existing community to improve existing open spaces and provide a safe, comfortable neighbourhood feel to the streets and spaces as well as places for activity and use.
Masterplan Development
The aim of the masterplan was to transform the currently inward-looking estate into a well-connected and permeable urban neighbourhood by enhancing connections between the existing neighbourhoods within the estate. The public realm was key in establishing the character and quality of the development, this was extended to the entire Nightingale Estate to enhance existing spaces and create new places for people. This is achieved through the introduction of a new north/south street grain linking the existing residential streets, the new buildings and existing park and Hackney Downs to the south. These new routes aim to overcome existing barriers to movement within and beyond the estate, whilst a site-wide public realm strategy will unify the current fragmented parts of the existing estate.
The ambition was to create a logical network of streets, ensuring the estate weaves into its wider context, physically and socially. Streets form a significant part of public realm within the estate, they are important elements of this estate regeneration. The vision was to 'weave' in a network of new 'social' streets and reimagine the existing streets and spaces that draw together both existing and new communities.
It is important that the design for these spaces forms part of a coherent vision for the development and encourages a range of activities and uses by providing a sequence of legible streets with a neighbourhood feel.
Existing Estate
The estate is located north of Hackney Downs and has been undergoing regeneration since the early 1990s when six 22-storey towers previously dominated the townscape. The early phases of the regeneration process involved the demolition of five of the towers with one, Seaton Point, refurbished and retained. This was followed by the creation of low-rise, low-density developments with streets dominated by car parking. The result is an estate formed of disparate streetscapes and building styles, from the tower to 1970s slab blocks and pitched-roofed 1990s suburban housing.
Consultation Process
A rigorous design process by the whole design team was combined with local and public consultations. Local-led ideas were found, fostered and incorporated into the public realm strategy, reinforcing a sense of ownership and in turn reinforcing the strong sense of community on the estate.
Regular meetings were held with the Residents Design Group, including a dedicated estate walk-around to discuss potential improvements across the existing streets and open spaces of the Nightingale Estate. These walk-around and consultation sessions were valuable in helping to inform the improvements being made to the existing public realm and to help us understand and balance the needs of local residents. The local residents directly contributed into the analysis and development proposals and helped formed the approach below:
Key considerations:
  • Understanding how people use the public realm on the estate.
  • Highlighting any key issues that can be addressed through the design of the public realm.
  • Drawing out the priorities residents have in terms of facilities and programming of the existing public spaces and establishing what fits where within the estate.
During consultation events, local residents were asked to identify what they liked and didn't like about the estate, as well as what they thought the improvement and priorities for change could be. These discussions with residents have helped inform the design proposals in establishing a brief for the existing spaces. The following conclusions from the various consultations were further explored and addressed within the public realm designs:
  • The lack of facilities for older child age group - leads to anti-social behaviour.
  • Evident that people use Olympus Green and that it is a local space for children to play, lack of seating / shade / planting and better play offer could be provided.
  • Concern over the perception of a loss of overall public space within the development, how can public spaces can be maximised to its full potential.
  • Support for improvement to green spaces - inclusion of more active play element, table tennis, adventure play, nature play.
  • Community gardens - Discussion with many residents who do not have growing spaces and would like to see this offer spread throughout the estate.
  • A strategy for vehicle movements needs to be developed to stop rat-running.
  • Support for small retail spaces within the development.
  • Provision of on street parking for bicycles.
Public Realm Design
The aim of the public realm between the existing and proposed areas of the estate was to provide a continuity in character and act to seamlessly connect the proposed and existing spaces.
The strategy intended to re-connect the Nightingale Estate and to help change perceptions that the estate is isolated with a confusing network of streets, by developing spaces that help embed the Nightingale Estate into its neighbouring context.
Streetscape Improvements:
  • Traffic calming measures to help define the spaces as a residential environment with pedestrian and cycle priority, including the retreatment of key junctions across the estate. The junctions act as key intervention points across the estate. Theses junctions were reimagined as social spaces and used for indication to vehicular users they are entering a pedestrian friendly environment.
  • Methods to calm and control parking.
  • Resurfacing sections of the existing street network will tie the wider estate buildings and the new spaces together.
  • Inclusion of street planting to provide a green outlook for the estate, increase biodiversity and provide attenuation areas for surface water run off.
  • Improving connections through the estate by opening up new access points along Kenninghall Road and improving the pedestrian route along Napoleon Road.
Green Space Improvements:
  • Reprogramming of three existing green spaces within the estate.
  • Improved play offer, incorporating nature play and designated play areas.
  • Inclusion of a designated space for older child play.
  • Inclusion of community planting areas.
Olympus Green
Olympus Green forms the heart of the estate and is currently utilised as an open green space and play space by many of the estate residents. The space currently provided areas of open lawn with small level changes and a play space which is gated and fenced off from the main lawn areas. It has been acknowledged by local residents that the space is in much need of improvement.
The key aims were to:
  • Create a dynamic and active community open space that will grow with the neighbourhood.
  • Improve the play offer and thread playable elements throughout the space, providing different zones for various groups to use at the same time.
Rendlesham Road Green
The green space on Rendlesham Road offers a significant opportunity to reprogram it's use, to better meet the needs of the local residents. The space forms an important stop on the route through the estate to surrounding schools and transport links and a key point of the proposed east-west route through the heart of the estate which will have a playful character and offer a pedestrian priority space which links the main public spaces throughout the Nightingale Estate.
The key aims were to:
  • Envisage the Green as a hub for the local community
  • Design the form of the space to take on a playful and active quality.
  • Provide a significant community growing space and an informal play space.
Kenninghall Road Green
The current condition of this space, whilst providing a valuable amount of tree cover, is not well maintained and is underutilised. The green space acts as a barrier to direct pedestrian movement through the estate and onto Kenninghall Road Green.
The key aims were to:
  • Open up and provide new connections making the space more permeable for pedestrian and cycle movement.
  • Provide play space for teenagers. This area was seen as the best location for this use by local residents as this space is not too close to the residential units, but not too far away that the space is not overlooked to give natural surveillance.
Design team:
Architect: Karakusevic Carson, Henley Halebrown, Stephen Taylor
Engineers: Peter Brett
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