Southmere Village is the first phase of the South Thamesmead and Abbey Wood Housing zone - one of the biggest regeneration projects in the UK. This specific phase delivered 525 homes, a library, and a new civic square. In doing so it created a coherent community with affordable accommodation.
Focusing on connectivity, community and character, the design for Southmere Village focuses on strengthening a linear connection from Abbey Wood Station to Southmere Lake and beyond. A new laneway – Southmere Lane – meanders across the urban grid and forms an enlivened sequence of streets, squares and active frontages. These create a real sense of place.
The new civic square acts as the focal point. Five-storey buildings frame the north, south and western sides of the square helping to clearly define this significant space. The blocks around the square each have their own distinctive character but are tied together through a uniform articulation of façades.
Horizontally, the first two levels are articulated as a double-height colonnade offering a more intimate space from which to enjoy views of the square. At ground level, the colonnade is activated with shop frontages and building terraces. At the first level, residential units are connected to the square with large bay windows or balconies that align and accentuate the colonnade’s vertical rhythm. The second and third level facades are designed to create a visual transition within the elevation’s vertical pattern by introducing a finer, lighter rhythm. At the fourth level, each block is finished with a single storey brickwork frame that encloses residential balconies. This overarching horizontal and vertical articulation of the elevations surrounding the square achieves a set of proportions that support the domestic character of the scheme.
The development’s homes consist of building ‘ensembles’ - clusters of connected residential buildings arranged around a shared raised courtyard. The buildings are different heights and host a variety of housing typologies, creating smaller communities within the larger whole.The ensembles allow for a flexible and varied design. Each ensemble has its own combination of different housing types, ranging from one-bedroom units to four-bedroom townhouses. At ground level each ‘ensemble’ enlivens the public realm with café and retail uses, entry lobbies and embedded courtyard spaces.
The predominant facade material for the ensembles is brick, which adds a warmer feel to the concrete buildings. The bricks chosen were Ibstock’s New Ivanhoe Cream, thrown soft mud bricks with a light texture and natural variations in tone. These provide both visual interest and a modern, comfortable aesthetic.
Finally, Southmere Village includes landscape elements connected to the nearby water, including rain gardens, water channels, canals and pools. This reference to water celebrates and enhances the area’s pre-existing relationship with the Thames and nearby lakes and canals.