Darwin Road, Tilbury

Assisted self-build, providing training for unemployed young people, using pre-fabricated timber panel construction.

Site and context

This project was part of a community regeneration programme for the 1960s Broadway Estate in Tilbury by New Essex Housing Association. This infill scheme provides small apartments for rent which were lacking in the area.

Development process

The scheme was partly built by ten young unemployed people who would become the future residents, working alongside the contractor. The 'assisted self-build' process provided NVQ training, and helped to develop skills, independence and a common sense of ownership by taking part in the project. The scheme was successful in helping the self-builders find paid work.

Layout and massing

A courtyard establishes a space for social exchanges. The building aligns with and completes the neighbouring housing terrace. The veranda at first floor level and a raised boardwalk at ground level reflect the building’s multiple occupancy and mean the main social spaces can be seen.

The design maximises the internal spaces of the flats to give as much flexibility as possible to the lifestyles of the young tenants.

Construction and sustainability

The project uses a simple prefabricated timber frame. External walls are clad on three sides with cement panels. On the veranda side, walls are clad with timber boards which extend to form the soffit of the overhanging canopy, creating a protected environment.

Scheme information

Architects: Sergison Bates
Planning Authority: Thurrock
Site area: 0.15 acres
Scheme: 10 affordable units
Density: 167

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