11 Meetings : Who Designed the O2 Development?

From : O2 Masterplan Site, Finchley Road
Volume 1: Environmental Statement – Main Text Chapter 3: Alternatives
Plowman Craven 43284 January 2022

The sequence of the main alternatives, demonstrating the design evolution of the Proposed Development. LBC feedback in bold

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Meeting 01 – June 2020
At the first pre-application meeting with Camden, AHMM presented an early iteration of the Proposed Development. The main elements were:
• The reduction of the overall site boundary;
• The replacement of a road through the centre of the site with a linear park;
• The introduction of a large public green space at the Western end.
At this stage the principal idea was for a central avenue to run diagonally across the site,
linking West End Lane and Finchley Road and improving connectivity between east and west with a landscaped public thoroughfare

Feedback: Many of the ideas presented were welcomed by the planning officers, however there was a general feeling that there should be further investigation into the masterplan layout to ensure that the several options had been explored. In particular, officers felt that the building forms should have more variation and that the position of the pedestrian thoroughfare should be considered further. The quality and use of public spaces should also be investigated in more detail. It was concluded that the next meeting would be in a workshop format to discuss ideas more widely.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 01 – July 2020
At the first design workshop AHMM presented a series of high level sketch proposals looking at differing approaches to site layouts. The main conclusions from the exercise were:
• To relocate the entrance to the pedestrian link further south on Finchley Road;
• To retain the existing vehicular access on Blackburn Road to allow for a more
complete pedestrian thoroughfare;
• To follow the site’s topography and geometry with the pedestrian route.

Feedback: The exploration of different approaches was welcomed; however, the officers still did not get a sense of the variation of geometries and plot sizes. There were queries regarding the public spaces and how these would feel – particularly that of Blackburn Road.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 02 – September 2020
At the second design workshop AHMM presented more detailed sketch proposals focusing on the quality of public streets and spaces, as well as initial ideas about the building heights.
To take advantage of the potential for sunlight and views from the south facing aspect, the plots were rearranged into a chequerboard-like pattern. Further development gave more
definition to the public spaces with clearly delineated thresholds where the enter the avenue.
Each public space between the building plots extends its character across the avenue to signal their uses, adding to the pleasure of pedestrians on the avenue.
The overall masterplan envisaged:
• A series of pocket parks with unique and specific characters;
• Two large public spaces with defined uses;
• A variety of building sizes and plots;
• Greater permeability along the frontage to Finchley Road.

Feedback: The approach to public realm was welcomed, however officers were not convinced that the public spaces were large enough, with a clear and recognisable hierarchy between them.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 03 – October 2020
At the third design workshop AHMM presented a series of options for the masterplan layouts exploring the position, hierarchy and scale of public spaces.Two options were considered in greater detail, an iteration of the previous proposals, and a new approach which moved the linear (park) The main changes were:
• Rearranging the plots to consolidate the buildings on the north of the site, giving this part greater density while increasing and consolidating the public realm to the south;
• Taking the opportunity this move afforded to create a linear park along the south;
• Preserving the public spaces between the buildings to add area and variety to the public realm.

Feedback: The new approach consolidating the public space to the south of the site was welcomed and it was felt this gave a good sense of hierarchy to the sequence of public spaces.
The scale comparisons were well received and led officers to conclude that those proposed were appropriate in scale for their uses

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 04 – October 2020
At the fourth design workshop AHMM presented a series of small developments to the masterplan.They proposed buildings along the southern boundary, and the eastern and western ends of the site.
Two different approaches to explore the massing of the buildings and their effects on
townscape were also presented, before the workshop concluded with a discussion of residential typologies.
Comments at the previous workshop led to the following amendments of the masterplan:

• Buildings on the site’s southern, eastern and western edge;
• Connections to the east and west;
• More developed designs along Finchley Road to establish a distinctive character for this part of the site;
• Manipulating the public realm to maximise dual aspect accommodation;
• Introducing a corridor for wildlife; and
• Address circulation by looking at building entrances and cyclists’ requirements

Feedback;: The officers broadly welcomed the new iteration of the masterplan while expressing some concern about the loss of permeability and geometric character of the town square.
The work on typologies was appreciated but more information on tenure, unit mix and
resident experience is needed.

In addition:
Exploring the character of each area was also welcomed;
• The studies of typologies made a good start but invited further detail about forms of
tenure, mix of units and the experience residents will have;

Further detail about the nature of the ground floor and the spaces between the
buildings was also sought;

• Blackburn Road and the western part of the site needed more focus; and it was thought inappropriate to have a building to the south of the square.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 05 – October 2020
At the fifth design workshop AHMM presented a focus on residential typologies,
including number and position of dual aspect homes, and the relationship between the
courtyards and the wider public realm as shown on plan and in section.
There were also minor revisions to the masterplan which included reinstating a
triangular public space at the eastern end, while the building to the south of this space was amended to incorporate a lower ground floor mews to activate the southern edge.

Feedback: Responses to points raised at the previous workshop included:
• Improving N5 tenure; • Studies of brick types and the ‘Arts and Crafts’ character of the local area to respond better to the context.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 06 – January 2021
At the sixth design workshop – AHMM presented Design developments to several areas of the masterplan. The building line and massing of the plots in the centre of the site was a particular focus, with amendments to the western edge of Blackburn Road and the street between the Nido and plot N7 also explored in more detail.
The main new features presented were:
• Maintaining the route for cyclists through to Blackburn Road West;
• A preliminary strategy for Blackburn Road to accommodate bins, bicycles and cars
• Massing view from West End Lane;
• Exploration of options for retaining and re-using parts of the 02 Centre;
• Improvements to the linear park to work better for cyclists and pedestrians;
• Defined locations for bus stops;
• Making the courtyards more private and secure for children to play in them. Studies of brick types and the ‘Arts and Crafts’ character of the local area to respond better to the context.

Feedback: Design development of the building line and shoulder height was welcomed;
• Scale and character of the building on the western edge of Blackburn Road was broadly supported;

• More clearly defined purpose of the space between the Nido and plot N7 was sought, to take account of its role as a route and location for buses to turn;
The strategy for the massing was broadly supported though exact heights of individual buildings not agreed, and deferred to the next workshop.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 07 – February 2021
At the seventh design workshop AHMM presented focused on newoptions for massing across the masterplan. Each option contained the same built area and
number of masterplans, though these were massed and distributed differently.
Base option
Massing as presented in the previous workshop.
Linear Option
Reducing the height on buildings on the central plots, and raising heights of those at
either end.
Stepped Massing A
A single tall building at the western end, with height concentrated on the northern side of the
plots.
Stepped Massing B
No tall buildings with height distributed evenly across the site

Feedback : Officers acknowledged that the effect of the options significantly reduced the impact of the development from agreed viewpoints, but believed there needed to be stronger justification for the proposed density in comparison to other schemes in and beyond Camden;
Public benefits offered by the scheme could be taken into account when considering density;
• The overall approach to affordable housing, amount of publicly accessible space, the impact on public transport, education and healthcare provision needed clarification;
• Any tall building should not be within the square;
• The horizontal expression of the facades on the three central plots gained positive
comments, though variation would be required;
• Strategies for distributed height generally appeared to be logical;
• The scale and character of Blackburn Road was well received;
• The corner of Blackburn Road needed clearer definition.


LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-ap Workshop 08 – March 2021
At the eight design workshop AHMM presented a significant revision to the
Masterplan.The principal points were:
Altering the geometry along Finchley Road and reinforcing the junction between Finchley and Blackburn Roads;
Re-aligning the corner of Finchley and Blackburn Roads allows two blocks to be located closer to Finchley Road and to be longer;
Framing the central terrace on Finchley Road & Shortening the crescent along the south eastern part of the site;
Remove the cruciform shape from the plan and adjust the building geometries accordingly;
Resize the plots to add a fourth courtyard block;
Add townhouses to the southern courtyards;
Remove the building on the south side of the community green so the linear park flows into it;
Increase the size of the northern building on the green to create a larger and more flexible plot

Feedback: A broad welcome to the reduction in height and massing, though some of the moves made to achieve this were regarded as detrimental to the overall masterplan;
• A preference for the previous scheme at the eastern and western edges of the site;

• A request for more space between the blocks;
• A request to know how much of the open space is fully accessible to the public;
• Public space N7 needs a purpose;
• The possibility of community uses in the first phase was raised;
• The apparently regimented character of the central section caused concern and needed more work;
• Introduced splayed blocks, further development of housing typologies and increasing the number of dual aspect homes was appreciated;
• The proposed height at the eastern end seemed to work, though not on Finchley Road.
Variation in height should be introduced;
• Accessibility of the courtyards needed clarification.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 09 – May 2021
At the ninth design workshop AHMM presented further revisions to the masterplan addressing comments on previous iterations were set out at this workshop:
1 Eastern and western edges of the scheme to revert to iteration prior to version presented in workshop 08;
2 Spaces between buildings enlarged by inflecting the plots to exploit the varying widths of these spaces;
3 A new open space in the centre of the site (the central square) provides respite and adds variation to the linear park;The green space at the western end of the site increased by straightening the western edge of plot N5;
4 Taller buildings removed from Finchley Road;
5 Great height and density concentrated around the town square, off Finchley Road;
6 More variety to the heights along the linear park;
7 Treating each building as an object in a park creates more breathing space along the
linear park;
8 Slight increase in height at the corner towards the west.

Feedback: Officers were generally comfortable with the level and disposition of higher buildings, subject to review during design development;
Heights at the eastern end of the site were also comfortable, but there needed to be a
more direct architectural relationship between the plots of the northern edge of the
square and those along its southern and eastern edges;
• Re-orientating the building at the back of the new square (where’s that?) would define
the square better;
• Detail sought as to how the linear park would feel safe and its southern side activated;
• Possibility raised of a direct link between Finchley Road Underground station and the
development;
• Plot N7 discussed as a possible bus turnaround but it still needs a clearer purpose.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-app Workshop 10 – July 2021
At the tenth design workshop AHMM presented further revisions to the masterplan to take account of comments on previous iterations:
1 Shape of plot N7 amended to create a larger shared surface and to become a more generous and obvious destination at the end of Blackburn Road;
2 Gaps introduced to the eastern wing of plot N5 and the western wing of N4, increasing the number of dual aspect apartments, break down the length of the façade and introduce variety to the buildings along the linear park;
3 Plot N3E at the rear of the central square reorientated to make a more generous space and to define its northern edge;
4 Investigating a finer building grain to plots N1 and N2, in keeping with southern side of the town square, and to differentiate this plot from those in the residential neighbourhoodd. 5.Introducing gaps between the buildings allows the building edges on the linear park to
be slightly lowered;
6 Building on plot N7 rises slightly so infill units can be removed;
7 Massing on buildings on plots N1 and N2 made closer to that on S1 with pitched roofs.

Feedback: Officers were generally content with the revisions proposed at this workshop, subjectto further review during design development.

LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN Pre-ap Workshop 11 – September 2021
At the eleventh design workshop AHMM presented, Progressing designs from the broad brush of master planning to the detailed architecture of the buildings.
Detailed site studies showed how these designs would tie into the most significant existing buildings.
Presenting a range of possible ‘elements’ for the plots if taken to the greatest level of detail allowed different solutions to be tested as the base for a strong architectural language and narrative to run through the entire project.

Feedback: High quality public realm throughout the site would make its high density and large scale acceptable;Either reducing overall height or outstanding benefits needed to justify the ‘less than substantial harm’ judgement of the impact on neighbouring conservation areas;
Architectural approach to phase 1 (identify plots) broadly welcomed, subject to reinstate the splays on the buildings, and lowering the height of buildings adjacent to the open space;
• Officers had concerns about various aspects of the proposed residential accommodation, including their aspects, distance between them, amount of daylight they receive, variety and balance of the typologies proposed and their connections to open space;
• Accordingly, number of dual aspect units to be significantly increased;
• Mixture of uses along the linear park encouraged
to maintain its character as a park rather than becoming a route;
• Bus turning point and Blackburn Road need further design development;
Health Centre must be provided as part of phase 1.

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