watford virtual planning committee success

POD Architects are delighted to announce Watford Borough Council has awarded planning permission to our innovative family housing site within the Northern Riverwell Masterplan. During these challenging times, the scheme was approved with unanimous support for the very first virtual planning committee by Watford Borough Council with delegated powers. Working with Kier Property Ltd and Watford Borough Council, POD Architects developed the family housing site to deliver a comprehensive scheme, creating a new neighbourhood and catalyst for the regeneration of the Watford Riverwell Northern Masterplan, which POD completed in 2018.

The planning stage concluded and materialised into 192 high quality sustainable family homes at a density of 95 dwellings per hectare with an emphasis on community living formed through large communal gardens and redefined the accepted normalities seen within housing standards. The scope had the added benefit of a large community centre which features spaces for fitness and games and an emphasis throughout the project on affordable housing. The project emphasised Watford’s scenic upbringing and notions of a meeting place through the inclusion of large communal gardens reminiscent of Georgian squares without railings or barriers so children can play securely. The design of which was developed to include meandering pathways through tree-lined meadows, referencing Turner’s historic painting of the River Colne, which lies to the south of the site.

Working closely with stakeholders and establishing a continuous dialogue, POD successfully challenged local design standards whilst promoting high quality design. The design responded to a number of challenging constraints, consisting of tall neighbouring buildings, large topographical differences and major underground services. Along with these constraints, POD pushed to achieve an innovative scheme that acts as a transition point between the existing traditional terraced housing to the north-east and the future high-rise apartments to the south-west. Various homes are arranged either within maisonettes; single or dual aspect terraces; back-to-back homes, or apartments meeting amenity space standards with a combination of private gardens, balcony spaces and roof terraces. All homes have access to high quality traffic-free public gardens acting as a meeting point for this new community to congregate amongst soft landscaping. The development has sought to be a low-trafficked neighbourhood placing the priority on active travel with generous facilities for cycling and walking.

Buildings are formed in high quality brick facades with metal windows and balconies. Brick faced detailing has been central to the architectural theme with the use of two coloured bricks and traditional coursing and detailing. The scheme limits overlooking whilst setting buildings within terraced rows in close proximity, this has been achieved by offsetting habitable rooms and balconies from each other. The scheme is formed to promote community with well- designed public gardens in front of the dwellings. Mature trees have been specified to be incorporated from the outset to support our vision for this scheme to create a high density community led development which will last the test of time.

POD celebrate ten years of practice in 2020

Each time we reach the end of a year, we reflect on our past years’ progress. This year is a special year as it marks ten years of practice and we wish to thank the hard work and dedication from our entire team in evolving and supporting POD Architects and the loyalty and commitment of clients and colleagues which make us all excited for what the new year and next decade will bring. 2019 has been a year of growth, technical innovation, achievements, and future planning for POD Architects.

In 2019, POD worked with:

  • 561 Residential Houses
  • 1,583 Residential Apartments
  • 84,195 Sq.M of Commercial Space
  • 14 Large Masterplans
  • Over 53 Individual and Commercial clients

2020 is going to be our most exciting year to date, and we cannot wait to reveal projects that are happening behind the scenes.

what a load of rubbish!

Pod Architects is committed to research and development and encourage staff to pursue their own topics with a view that it can influence our day-to-day design activities. In this time of climate emergency, the environment is foremost on our agenda and recently Rob has channelled this research into his role as a committee member for “Tidy Up Tottenham”, a community organisation aimed at reducing waste across Haringey and seeking ways to ethically eliminate single-use plastics in the local supply chain. The group regularly collaborates with organisations such as “Clean Up UK” and “Keep Britain Tidy”, as well as a number of local organisations such as “Zero Waste Market Haringey” who promote water refill bottles, and product refills. There are many skills that we possess as architects that can influence our local communities, that feeds back into our day-to-day work and improve our own office environment.

Unboxing Modular Housing Potential

Recent projects have seen a trend towards considering modern methods of construction (MMC) to lead the way in delivering & maximising house-building. With the government targeting house-builders to build one million homes by 2020 there is no time like the present

to address how our projects will be built. This supported by the likes of RICS who recently published ‘Forward Thinking Solutions to the Housing Crisis’. POD have been working closely with industry leading consultants & MMC contractors. Over the last year the practice has considered the pros and cons of using volumetric modular (VM) and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) construction on sites in Caterham, Watford, High Wycombe and West Hampstead. This sits well as a method to deliver schemes including the Private Rental Sector (PRS) dwellings where repeated footprints make this an effective construction technique. Our research and development will continue to address how we can maximise sustainable housing yields, delivered quickly with MMC.

Re-inventing High Street Retail

With our success at Inverness we are reminded why good retail design is so important. The demise of High Streets is much reported with the New Statesmen dubbing 2018 the ‘the annus horribilis’ for British brands. POD is mounting the revival, reaching key milestones on projects reinventing existing retail spaces, making them fit for modern retailers, consumer trends & sustainable urban environments. Schemes at Church Walk, Walton-on-Thames, & Littlehampton are currently in planning; to go alongside Inverness. Meanwhile the practice continues to research & develop solutions in Bootle; Grimsby; Maidstone; Peacehaven; Canterbury; Ashford; Cumbernauld; Edinburgh; Kingston Upon Hull; Ilford; Wimbledon & High Wycombe.
The governments Future High Streets Fund acknowledges that the way we’re using towns has changed. Pod are well placed to participate in the debate and help conceive the next iteration. Our schemes always maximise lettable retail space & align with a mix of other uses like leisure & culture. Whilst exploiting bricks & clicks digital trends. This is complemented by active & improved public realm. These big town centre assets create another opportunity – repopulating town centres with affordable dwellings. If we can return the community, we can create vibrant town centres hubs once more.

Great Design Drives Retail Growth

In April 2015 Swindon Designer Outlet (Mcarthurglen Designer Outlets) opened to great fanfare. POD stitched the historic Brunel Great Western Railway Workshops into an improved retail offering with an approach that respected historic fabric whilst providing modern architecture. Nearly 5 years later, in troubling economic times for retail, Swindon Designer Outlet bucks’ trends as a magnet for big brands attracted by customer growth.

Colliers International pointed out in 2018, “Outlet shopping has been a modern retail success story, & Swindon Designer Outlet very much illustrates this. It is worth looking at this model at a time when the property industry needs to think about a radical reshaping of the lease model for much retail property.”

POD’s approach to the centre maximised lettable retail space, created food courts, and flexible space that has allowed for modern retail trends like food markets; late night shopping events & pop-ups to take place. POD continues to approach retail design to maximise opportunities.

POD wins at appeal

POD Architects are delighted to announce that ‘Holly Tree Corner’ has been granted Full Planning Consent by Thanet District Council through appeal from the Secretary of State.

Holly Tree Corner is the development of a previously fire damaged public house into a new contextual development consisting of 35 high-quality residential apartments, 3 detached houses and a micro-pub in Margate, Kent, within walking distance to the old town and destination attractions including the new Turner Contemporary Gallery.

POD Architects has proposed a new set of residential spaces with a community facility at the corner of Holly Lane and Northdown Road. The proposal provides quality placemaking on a prominent brownfield urban site creating a modern replacement use for the former fire damaged public house. The material palette has been derived from local context materials using a mixture of red brick creating a contemporary identity whilst providing a suggestion of its bucolic history.

Innovative Housing Scheme Submits to Planning

Having won a competition to develop a high-density family housing scheme in Watford last summer POD are now pleased to announce the submittal of the refined design to planning.

Located to the south of Watford Football Club, the project consists of a 193 dwellings development with an emphasis on community living materialised through the combination of high-density housing and high-quality communal gardens. The scheme forms part of POD’s masterplan for Watford Riverwell and is one of the first parcels to be developed.
Since winning the competition, POD have developed the scheme to consider the wider requirements of the client, Kier and Watford Borough Council, along with all other disciplines and stakeholders. POD engaged with wider Watford throughout the design stage, attending meetings with planners, MARF (Major Application Review Forum), Watford Football Club, Hertfordshire Police, and the general public. The design evolved over a time-restricted programme and challenged conventions through high-density living and building proximities. The scheme concluded with an impressive design that was submitted to planning on time. POD are now developing the project through to tender with the project expected to start on site at the beginning of 2020.

On the Gatwick Retail Runway

POD plays a critical role in retail growth at South Terminal, Gatwick where completed units are taken by fashionable Grain Store; Wagamama; Jamie Oliver’s Diner; Starbucks & Flying Horse Public House. POD maximised lettable space in tight highly constrained air side areas creating room for big brands & driving retail churn. Our unit for MoneyCorp & Havaianas reflects trends for walk-through retail akin to other recently completed projects. Design interventions reflect strong results at Gatwick with a 7.9% rise in retail income with net retail income per passenger up by 6% to the year ending 31st March 2019 (Moodie Davitt Report, 18th June 2019). The recent Heathrow masterplan announcement, & soon to be published Gatwick masterplan, demonstrates POD are in pole position to offer airport retail design expertise drawing on inspiration at leading hubs like Changi, Incheon and Schipol. POD continue to offer sky high design ideas at leading airport retail zones, adding value, driving growth and maximising space.

POD Updates Branding

With 2018 receding in the rear-view mirror, and POD’s 10 year anniversary soon approaching. POD Architects are delighted to announce a makeover to their brand identity. The decision to give the brand an update reflects our evolution, following recent achievements, long term goals and company expansion. Over months of workshops and exercises, working with graphic designers alongside the POD team, a refined practice identity was born. The result was a purified visual identity and website experience that not only shows our work but also communicates the values within the practice.

Inverness breaks ground

POD Architects are delighted to share the new construction images of the Food & Beverage units at the front of Eastgate Shopping Centre.

POD traveled up to Scotland to inspect construction works for their proposal of the shell of four new restaurants on the ground floor in the heart of Inverness. The site visit started with a design team meeting and followed up with a detailed inspection of all works. POD’s attention to detail together with the monitored strategic conversations with the contractors led to a successful assessment. The project is currently moving forward at pace, aiming to create a new active frontage for Falcon Square and contribute to the public realm of the surrounding area.

Caterham Revival Speeds Up

POD leads the Caterham revival with 22 new retail units; 178 apartments; 3 screen cinema; expanded parking provision and high-quality public realm.

Pod submitted planning proposals for the regeneration of the Church Walk Shopping Centre and surroundings. For the last two years, Pod and its consultant team have worked closely with the client and Tandridge District Council to bring about proposals that will form a cornerstone of the Caterham Town Centre Masterplan. The 22 retail units; 178 studio, 1 and 2-bed private rental sector apartments with associated concierge, workspaces, lounges and parking; 3 screen boutique cinema; enhanced public realm and expanded town centre parking will herald the revival of Caterham as an important local centre. This project continues Pod tradition of reviving the UK High St through bold interventions into aging shopping centres.

POD Win Masterplan Against Stiff Competition

We are honoured to be declared winner of the competition for an innovative scheme in Watford.

Following a four­week competition bid, POD have been crowned the winner for the housing site as part of the Watford Riverwell Northern Masterplan for Kier Property and Watford Borough Council.

POD Goes Virtual

Over the past half year, POD Architects has entered the world of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Virtual reality.

Pod Architects are changing the way we present our projects and turning this process into a simple, intuitive and interactive experience. To achieve this goal we have entered the world of Building Information Modelling (BIM), combining the latest Autodesk software with the newest technologies. The idea is to turn conventional static’ drawings into a fully navigable model that incorporates design information as well as existing conditions collected via drone scans.

Holly Tree Corner Submits

POD Architects has submitted a planning application for 39 high quality residential apartments, 3 Houses and a micro-pub in Margate.

In 1926 the Olde Charles was built as a mock-tudor Public House. When built, the area was mainly fields with a seaside view. In 2016 the Public House, which had been closed and had suffered a serious fire. Now, POD Architects has proposed a new set of residential spaces with a community facility at the corner of Holly Lane and Northdown Road. The proposal provides quality place making on a prominent brownfield urban site, creating a modern replacement use for the former fire damaged public house.

POD Architects Take Paris!

Last Friday, POD Architects embarked upon an adventure overseas.

We began our tour by foot of some of the Architectural sites Paris has to offer. Perhaps the most scintillating stops of the tour were the new urban Rive Gauche development, hosted by Jusik and Robert; Oscar Niemeyer’s fascinating headquarters for the French Communist Party, presented by Camila; and finally our Parisian adventure drew to a close with an afternoon of oysters, wine and escargot at the impossibly chic Brasserie Molla rd. As we bid Paris adieu, the team felt a new found appreciation for French design, snails, and the Siene.