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15 September 2023

15 September 2023

Creating Community and Collaboration through Regenerative Architecture at Angel Yard

In the bustling urban landscape of outer North London, the team at Jan Kattein Architects has unveiled their latest project - Angel Yard, a community centre and series of affordable workspaces for young entrepreneurs to thrive.

Commissioned by the Enfield Council, the development has revitalised a cluster of abandoned garages, formerly notorious as a hotspot for antisocial behaviour and criminal activity, infusing them with new life and purpose.

Councillor Nesil Caliskan, leader of Enfield Council said that “Angel Yard will help Enfield’s young entrepreneurs to build their businesses, gain new skills and to develop sustainable enterprises which in turn will help to support a dynamic local economy.”

Through adaptive reuse and sustainable design principles, Angel Yard showcases the potential of regenerative architecture to address social, economic, and environmental challenges.

The Challenges in Upper Edmonton

Upper Edmonton has been facing significant socioeconomic challenges, with residents experiencing low incomes and limited opportunities for education, training, and employment. There is hope for positive change in the future, with major developments planned for nearby Tottenham and Meridian Water. In the meantime, Enfield Council recognised the urgent need for change and commissioned Jan Kattein Architects to develop a temporary intervention that would immediately address these issues while building long-term resilience.

Transforming Garages into Affordable Workspaces

Jan Kattein Architects took an inventive approach to retrofitting the existing garage structures at Angel Yard, maximising their potential while minimising embodied carbon. Lightweight timber barrel-vaults were added to increase the head-height of each garage, transforming them into individually let workspaces. The old roller shutters were replaced with glazed "shopfronts," creating a more welcoming and inviting atmosphere. This adaptive reuse approach not only minimised waste but also integrated the workspaces into the surrounding estate seamlessly.

Creating a Welcoming Community Space

Angel Yard was designed to foster a sense of community and collaboration. The project included the addition of five new two-storey studios and a pair of canopy structures that create "internal streets" between the rows of studios. These timber-framed structures with butterfly roofs are topped with translucent polycarbonate, allowing natural light to filter through. The canopies provide a sheltered outdoor space, encouraging informal interactions and creating a vibrant marketplace for collaboration.

Supporting Young Entrepreneurs

Angel Yard aims to support young entrepreneurs aged 18 to 30 by providing them with affordable workspaces and access to training and support. Launch It, an enterprise charity, will operate the facility and offer resources to help entrepreneurs develop their business ideas and gain new skills. The overall design and atmosphere of Angel Yard are tailored to meet the needs of young entrepreneurs, providing them with an inspiring environment to kickstart their business journey.

A Model for Regeneration

The success of Angel Yard demonstrates the potential of regenerative architecture in transforming disused and neglected sites into thriving community spaces. The project serves as a model for estate regeneration, showcasing an incremental approach that can be applied to similar sites across the country. 

By reusing existing structures and minimising embodied carbon through timber frame construction, Jan Kattein Architects has developed valuable strategies for both retrofit and new-build projects. This approach not only revitalizes neglected spaces but also contributes to a more sustainable future.

Engaging the Local Community

Jan Kattein Architects understands the importance of community engagement and empowerment in their projects. They believe that architecture should be a tool to improve the lives of individuals and create a cohesive community. Throughout the design process, the architects collaborated with the local community to ensure that their proposals addressed the community's needs and aspirations. By fostering open conversations and involving the community from the outset, Jan Kattein Architects ensures that their interventions are relevant, useful, and proportionate.

Artistic Integration and Cultural Significance

In addition to the architectural interventions, Jan Kattein Architects collaborated with local studio Fisher Cheng to create a series of public artworks that connect Angel Yard with the surrounding neighbourhood. These artworks not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of the space but also celebrate the cultural significance of the area. The integration of art into the design of community spaces adds depth and meaning, promoting a sense of pride and identity among residents.

Sustainable Design and Resilience

Sustainability is a core principle of regenerative architecture, and Angel Yard exemplifies this commitment. The project utilises low-carbon materials and sustainable construction techniques, ensuring minimal environmental impact. The lightweight timber frame construction and the use of reclaimed or surplus materials minimise waste and contribute to a circular economy. Jan Kattein Architects also prioritise flexibility and adaptability in their designs, allowing spaces to accommodate future changes and evolving needs.

Through adaptive reuse, community engagement, and sustainable design principles, Jan Kattein Architects has created a model for estate regeneration that addresses social, economic, and environmental challenges. The project not only revitalises neglected spaces but also fosters a sense of community and collaboration, providing bright futures for individuals and communities alike.

Author: Micah Davis-Rae, Bespoke Careers

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