Caledonian Road, London

Angela Brady OBE: PPRIBA, Architect and Design Champion.

For years we wanted to build our own office, or create it as part of a development we were involved with, so when Igloo Regeneration asked us to be their architects for a mixed use development in Islington we jumped at the chance. We acquired and converted an old coach house as part of the project, which created 25 new homes and two other offices. Combining new build and re-use, on a very constrained site, we created two tranquil courtyards – so much so that you don’t notice the HS1 line running right under the buildings or the overground trains 20 metres away.

This is an important project for us, as the developer wanted to have a sustainable project in its widest, social sense. We didn’t need car parking, being next to public transport, which freed up the spaces between the buildings. We made sure that potential was built into the project once the residents moved in to encourage social interaction and help form a community. We designed generous communal spaces and low maintenance landscaping, which gives people an opportunity to rest on a bench or share an outdoor dining table.

Our office building is double height and became a great place for exhibitions and parties. By hosting these events most people got to know their neighbours, which is important to us. It’s a very sociable space both in the office and in the shared courtyards. In the morning residents leave for work and school when office workers arrive. In the evening it reverses, and kids play in the courtyards after school, as we leave the office for home.

Photo: Morley von Sternberg