The Reed 

Our brief was to replace a poor quality three-storey 1960’s building with a modern day care centre, community hub, and housing for older people.

Client  Octavia Housing
Location  Kensington, West London
Completion  2017
Cost  £3.5m


  • Feasibility study
  • Architectural design
  • RIBA stages 1-7
  • Public consultation

The essential requirement was that the centre would become a focal point for the local area, was capable of appealing to all ages and that the housing would enable independence.

The building is located within a quiet cul-de-sac in a high-density urban area. Surrounding buildings are predominantly 1970's construction with a typical height of four storeys.

The new building has been designed to enhance the local context and neighbouring Conservation area, whilst maintaining a contemporary appearance. Brick was chosen as the principle external material to relate to its context and provide a low maintenance envelope. The building forms a strong distinctive frontage to Convent Gardens, providing two attractive and legible entrances to the community hub (The Reed) and flats above (Jane Lidderdale House).

The Reed is entered through a naturally lit, double-height reception space, designed to be welcoming and to aid orientation. Centre activity is expressed in large windows facing the street on ground and first floors, offering visual interest on approach. Community facilities (lounge, café, activity space, digital media suite, treatment room) are provided on the ground and first floors. Layout and interior design accommodate sensory, cognitive and mobility impairments and the centre is wheelchair accessible throughout. A quiet landscaped garden situated at the south-east corner of the site provides sunny external amenity space that connects with the café and lounge.



Jane Lidderdale House flats are dedicated for people aged 60 and over. All offer standards in excess of Lifetime Homes Standards with level access throughout and have the infrastructure for easy retrofitting of assistive technologies if required by individuals. Each of the 13 social rented flats is wheelchair accessible, has its own balcony and is designed as low-energy housing to reduce fuel burden

Natural light, ventilation and storage space are maximised, with principles of inclusive design incorporated into the design including making best use of LRV contrast, colour and light to support wayfinding and activity. The intention is to increase choice for older residents, delay or prevent admissions of older people to medical and care services and prevent age-related deterioration in mobility and independence.

Photography Diane Auckland