The Reed 

It was a very collaborative approach with a lot of stakeholders. Cartwright Pickard worked very closely with us on getting what we needed. The building is absolutely at the centre of the local community.

Jenny Walsh, Project Manager, Octavia

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


  • Feasibility study
  • Architectural design
  • RIBA stages 1-6
  • Public consultation

The Reed is an intergenerational community hub building that brings together a café, extra care day facilities and housing for older people. The building is set within a Conservation Area and has replaced a three-storey 1960’s building that was in a poor state of repair but much loved by the local community. The essential requirement was that centre would become a focal point for the local area that encourages intergenerational interaction. This has successfully been achieved through regular sessions including arts and crafts, pottery, chair yoga, iPad classes, intergenerational social events and digital media training for young people in a dedicated media suite.

The building forms a strong distinctive primary frontage to Convent Gardens, providing two attractive and legible entrances to the community hub (The Reed) and flats above (Jane Lidderdale House). 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. Space standards are in excess of Lifetime Homes Standards with level access throughout and infrastructure for easy retrofitting of assistive technologies.

A double-height reception space welcomes users into the centre and aids orientation, while large street-facing windows on the first two floors offer views into the lounge, café and wellbeing activity space on approach. The centre also includes day facilities for dementia sufferers, a beauty salon and pottery room. Layout and interior design accommodate sensory, cognitive and mobility impairments and the centre is wheelchair accessible throughout. A quiet landscaped garden provides sunny external amenity space that connects with the café and lounge.



Jane Lidderdale House flats are dedicated for people aged 60 and over. 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