The Boundary Estate 1890-1900
Timber Interpretation by Patrick Quinn and Colin Wharry
The Boundary Estate in Shoreditch, East London is one of the earliest, if not the first, social housing scheme in the world. It was built on the site of an old terrace slum at the turn of the last century. Designed by London County Council architects, its five-storey blocks of brick construction maintained the same density of the slum, but through section width and building adjacency, were able to capture more light and air, whilst providing for a greater amount of outdoor space.
Today there are half the number of households contained in the blocks as there were in 1900. Most of the apartments were knocked through and modernised in the 1960’s. For the 21st century, this proportion and flexibility is interpreted in timber using 1m deep laminated timber ‘A frames’, with pre-stressed waffle floor slabs to give bracing. Triangular solid timber service risers, that were informed from the old chimney positions also help to provide for lateral stability.
The 3 and 4m wide bays are left open at intervals for communal stairwells. Serving no more than 10 households and allowing for social interaction on irregularly shaped landings, the stairwells divide the blocks into strings of short terraces that can be sub-divided vertically or horizontally.