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PTE Conference Day: work, learn and play - November 2022


November’s conference theme, ‘work, learn and play’ set the tone for our monthly get-together which focused on PTE’s non-residential projects

The day began however, with a ‘Breakfast is ready - including sausages (meat and veg)’ email from office manager Bobby at 8.55am – which ensured a busy Foundation Bar before nine, just in time for the opening session: an overview of our ‘not housing’ projects currently underway.

The welcome lecture was a whirlwind trans-sectoral tour of PTE’s project portfolio by a host of our in-house experts. Simon Whitley kicked off with education, reflecting on our track record in co-location – an approach blending a new school with homes in a mixed use development. Simon picked out St Jude and St Paul’s CE Primary School, begun way back in 2001. It was out first school and the first in London (and we think the UK) to co-locate homes above the teaching areas, an idea Simon explained developed further including Netley Campus, at Euston, Tidemill Academy in the heart of Deptford, and Bow Garden Square in Tower Hamlets, completed in 2020, which co-locates, a school with a mosque, housing and nursery.

Netley Campus, Camden

Hamish Kilford-Brown picked up the baton, focusing on Stone Studios, a recently complete mixed-use Hackney Wick building, blending homes with artist’s workspaces, while Justin provided an overview of Gunpowder Mills, our retrofit and newbuild HQ for Hill Group in Waltham Abbey. Partly inspired by our own transformation of Diespeker, but on a far larger scale – Justin called it an ‘industrial cathedral’ – and completed in 2009, it is currently in the running for Architecture Today’s inaugural Test of Time Award.

Next, Ashleigh showcased East Square Cinema in Basildon (opening Feb ’23) explaining how its façades, in the new town tradition, are activated by artwork – in this instance, a lenticular screen made with local schoolchildren.

East Square Cinema, Basildon

Justin returned for a review of Coronation Square, a vast mixed-use neighbourhood we designed for Leyton: the largest planning application in Waltham Forest’s history and the first to be consented by virtual planning committee in April 2020. The scheme includes a pre-school nursery, café, community halls and a new health hub with 20 GP rooms as well as 740 new homes. When it completes in 2027 however, it will also feature a contemporary Moot Hall, hosting communal, commercial and retail uses.

Coronation Square, Waltham Forest

Roger rounded the session up by fixing the spotlight on Deptford Market Yard, which saw PTE fix up a Grade II listed industrial edifice defined by spacious arches now converted into buzzing retail units – a development that played a key role in Time Out recently naming the nearby High Street, one of the ‘world’s coolest’.

Deptford Market Yard, Lewisham

Knowledge Hub made Lunch this month – mixing up a tasty dahl with wraps and an egg salad (and shortbread for afters too). It’s a bit colder now, so we set out tables in the Foundation Room for a dining hall atmosphere, before clearing it again for the afternoon programme.

The Research and Thinking session, with partner Patrick Devlin and writer and critic Rory Olcayto, centred on ‘publishing’ – online, in mags, books and events. Patrick gave an overview of PTE’s own publications, from our government-backed HAPPI report (2009) and At Home with PTE (published by The AJ) to our estate regen books – Altered Estates I and II – co-produced with other architects and The Deck Access Housing User’s Guide for Routledge (January 2023).The interactive session also produced word clouds from audience responses to which books, magazines, online publications and events had helped shape their design outlook.

Rory Olcayto, writer and critic and Patrick Devlin, partner, Pollard Thomas Edwards

Friday at Four

This Friday at Four saw four guest panellists join Hamish Kilford-Brown on stage, with Rory Olcayto chairing a wide-ranging debate inspired by the ‘work, learn and play’ theme. Jonathan Martin, Waltham Forest’s director of inward investment & higher education academic relationships, spoke about his borough’s culture industries profile and how it is creating meaningful place-specific jobs in this sector. He cited Walthamstow’s Blackhorse Workshops which has been combined with the borough’s creative academy. Beispiel’s Sven Mündner made the case for social value (pointing to John Soane’s altruistic and ‘make-do’ forging of the Dulwich Picture Gallery) to show that it has always been fundamental to the architect’s societal offer while Pauline Roberts of Lichfields, explored post-covid engagement strategy. Argent’s André Gibbs finished the presentations, musing on low carbon lifestyles and building communities in Brent Cross Town, before the audience joined the discussion – which continued over drinks and snacks in the Foundation Bar@Five (it’s become a thing!)

Friday at Four takeaways

We must forge networks that connects and creates shared knowledge for younger people and those changing careers”
Jonathan Martin, director of inward investment & higher education academic relationships, Waltham Forest Council
It has always been part of an architect’s job to add social value – this is more than simply an Act of Parliament”
Sven Mundner, director, Beispiel
Post-covid engagement is more inter-generational, more inclusive”
Pauline Roberts, senior director, Lichfields
The high street is ill but it certainly ain’t dead”
André Gibbs, partner, Argent
Deptford High Street was buzzing before we created the Lounge and Market Yard, but they will certainly help keep it buzzing for years to come”
Hamish Kilford-Brown, partner - urban design, Pollard Thomas Edwards
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London N1 8JX

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