Applying the EDG in practice: Social housing

Bruyn’s Court

Development name: Bruyn’s Court

Location: South Ockendon, Essex

Size: 0.34 Hectares

Architect: Bell Phillips Architects

Developer: Thurrock Council

Accommodation type: 25 flats; 5no. 1-beds, 17no. 2-beds 3-persons and 3no. 2-bed 4-persons

Bruyn’s Court is a new social housing scheme in South Ockendon, Thurrock, providing 25 flats for social rent designed for elderly residents. Built for Thurrock Council, the four-storey complex is located close to the town centre, providing residents with high quality living environment with that offers a flexibility between independent and communal living. The project heralds the beginning of a major new programme to transform the housing offer for older residents in Thurrock. Overall, the programme will produce a range of housing options, designed to promote health, well-being and independent living for people with a range of different needs and aspirations.

Bruyn’s Court has been constructed on the site of a former car park in the centre of South Ockendon. The site is close to the town centre, offering a wide range of shops and services, including a supermarket, community hub, public house and village hall. The location of the development places the new residents into an already existing urban location, reducing their need to leave the area and providing further financial security to local businesses.

The building is designed as three linked ‘pavilions’ that reduces the perceived bulk and scale of the building in a suburban area of low-rise housing. Pitched roofs slope down to either end of the building to further reduce the visual impact of the building.

The design helps to foster a strong, coherent and friendly community, increasing visual and physical connectivity between each resident and further to the society beyond. A range of communal spaces facilitate social interaction internally and provide visual connectivity with the surrounding area. Much of the social space is located in the glazed links that incorporate seating areas overlooking the community garden where interaction with the wider community is made possible.

On the ground floor there is a larger communal area and adjoining kitchen where residents can socialise. This multi-functional space is oriented to give views over and access to the adjacent garden, making productive use of an existing public asset and crafting a relationship between residents and the wider community.

Every aspect of the design was created to meet the specific needs of elderly people and create desirable living conditions for its inhabitants, ensuring that they retain a sense of independence while making available valuable larger social homes more suited to families and large households.

Each room in the development is designed to adapt to the changing needs of residents, providing easily accessible and spacious units that can be adapted to meet the changing needs of the residents. A sliding screen can be opened between the living room and a second bedroom, allowing for either an extension to the living space or guest bedroom. Each apartment features a generous balcony, providing for private outdoor living and animating the façade. On the ground floor, a mobility scooter and cycle store is provided, while storage areas in each unit are large enough to be adapted to a wheelchair transfer space if required. Rooms and circulation spaces are generous to allow for ease of access and the walls and ceilings are reinforced allowing for ceiling hoists and grab rails to be incorporated.

Shelving and seating placed adjacent to flat entrances allow residents to personalise flats, naturally developing variation within the communal hallways.

In 2016 the project received an RIBA National Award. The judges citation described the project as “..a rewarding and enriching place to grow old.”

Page updated: 25/04/2023

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