Windmill Court extra care housing, designed by PRP

Designed to meet all the recommendations of the 2009 HAPPI (Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation) Report, PRP’s Windmill Court in Chingford, north-east London, is an affordable housing scheme for older people comprising 44 flats along with communal spaces including a lounge, hairdressing salon and activity room, and offering a 24-hour staff presence.

The project won the HAPPI Completed Award at the 2016 Housing Design Awards, where it was particularly praised for the skill with which the plan exploits exposure to panoramic views and access to landscaped gardens, and the recessed entrances that provide “dignified” thresholds for each flat

The building replaces two former community centres on a quiet street of inter-war semi-detached houses, and is intended to “reinforce the street frontage with a strong rhythm to the facade and a central welcoming entrance”, says PRP.

Predominantly three storeys in height, the building has a set-back top floor, thus presenting a two-storey appearance to the street. “The scale of the elevations is reduced by a framework that identifies individual apartments”, explains PRP. “Winter gardens to each apartment provide a buffer from the street, and open balconies with brises soleils provide shading at the top floor.”

Despite the constraints of a site with level changes and an awkward shape, the building has a “simple, logical” T-shaped plan that makes way-finding easy, suggests PRP. Circulation is via colonnades and external walkways that overlook the shared landscaped gardens, creating opportunities for interaction and natural surveillance.

Both the building and grounds are barrier-free, with level access and generous space standards throughout. Apartments have either one or two bedrooms, but all are dual-aspect and have generous private balconies and winter gardens