Strand East is a new East London housing development. A sustainably built neighbourhood of 1,200 houses or flats, Strand East is part of the post-Olympic regeneration of East London. It is one of many housing developments to have appeared in the vicinity of the Olympic Park. There has been a great deal of controversy over what kind of legacy developments such as Strand One deliver for the residents of East London. The financial crisis and the change of government have reduced the pressure on developers to ensure an equitable mix of affordable and luxury housing, just as financial pressure has greatly watered down the environmental imperative.
In an article in the Evening Standard last year the lead architect of the Olympic Village (a lady whose name escapes me) discussed the sacrifices she had to make in terms of the ambition of her design. I believe strongly in the potential of innovative urban design to improve the lives of people from all backgrounds through the creation of more engaged communities. I was thus extremely disappointed to hear that a project with the potential to fundamentally re-imagine a large area of London was being compromised by financial pressure and subsequent risk aversion.
Then I came across Strand East, a housing development like any other, but with one important difference…it is being built by a Swedish furniture maker. Contrary to my initial expectation Strand East will not consist of flat-pack houses you construct with a two-inch allen key. Homes will be simple, but more importantly affordable and sustainably built. The whole area will be powered by a hydroelectric plant. An underground rubbish removal system will whisk away rubbish via a network of suction tunnels. All 1,200 units will be rental properties! My amazement at this discovery was tempered by a colleague at the Innovation Unit who subsequently informed me that rental rates in Sweden are far higher than they are in London (‘there isn’t the same stigma attached’).
Sustainable, affordable rental homes, in a mixed use development that caters for all ages and family types, and encourages the development of creative and high-tech industries…it sounds remarkably like LOCOG has outsourced its capacity for innovation. If Strand East is able to recreate the sustainable excellence of cities such as Copenhagen and Malmo, this could just be the best decision legacy decision LOCOG have made.
More information can be found here - http://www.mnn.com/your-home/remodeling-design/blogs/ikea-helmed-housing...