The Atrium Building; How do you make a place for people in a place that’s made for cars?

East City Point is a new neighbourhood of 610 mixed-tenure homes by Countryside Properties in Canning Town, east London, masterplanned by MacCreanor Lavington to stitch something of the Victorian layout of squares and streets back into an area devastated during the Second World War. The Atrium Building, with its 153 units, is the penultimate building on the site to be completed, but has perhaps the most challenging site, sitting immediately adjacent to Newham Way, a heavily used arterial route into London from the east. On this busy road with its noise and pollution, how could we make a place where people are the priority?

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You can take the designer out of Japan…

London’s architecture community is a hugely diverse group of professionals, and designers come from across the world to learn and practice here. At Shepheard Epstein Hunter alone we have staff of eight nationalities, and speak a total of twelve languages between us. This melting pot of approaches and attitudes is not just visible in the work of our practice, but in the city’s broader architectural output. There are few places on earth which have such a vital creative environment. Our masterplan for the Warneford Hospital in Headington, Oxford is one such complex project.

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Learning from Leicester

If buildings and places begin with people, then we as a practice have to get to know those people intimately. We have worked continuously with the University of Leicester for almost two decades, a relationship which has endured numerous changes in personnel and fundamental shifts in government education policy. Our relationship has developed over time as we have introduced improved working processes and embraced new technologies together. However, the foundations of our collaboration have remained the same: achieving a balance between contextual constraints and internal requirements, between conservation and contemporary expression.

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The Atrium Building; The Art and Science of Delivery

The delivery phase of a project may seem unglamorous compared to the initial, concept design stages when the client’s vision begins to take three-dimensional shape. Yet almost always, it’s only at the delivery stage that those ideas are really tested, when ideas begin to become reality. Often that first vision is completely re-visioned, interrogated across the disciplines in such a way that goes far beyond the mundane.

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Warneford Hospital Masterplan - Many People; One Place

Peter Shepheard, one of the founders of our practice, often spoke of the importance of the spaces in between, the white space around the architecture which is fundamental in creating academic communities. The more complex the project, the more vital these in-between spaces become in achieving a coherent and singular sense of place. Our masterplan for the Warneford Hospital in Headington, Oxford is one such complex project.

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Productive Landscapes

There is a general misconception about the relationship between cities and landscape. We tend to think of cities as independent man-made entities, in opposition to the natural and harmonious landscape surrounding them. However, this is a false and archaic myth, whose root comes from the pastoralism of the 17th century that celebrated the humbled harmonious and healthy life of the countryside.

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