Top architects with distinctive style are now being commissioned by housing associations to build homes that first-time buyers can afford in London and commuter towns.
The Serpentine, designed by award-winning Make Architects, is a contemporary take on the classic Victorian terrace — an unusually bold scheme being unveiled in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
The building follows a curving S-shape form which divides the town centre site into two clear zones: a street side, which incorporates a child-friendly, traffic-free play area; and a garden side with private green spaces for each home.
The 94-home project responds to the government Design for Manufacture challenge to create high-quality, energy-efficient homes for an exceptionally low construction cost — £60,000 per home — and a minimum space requirement of 76.5 square metres.
This was achieved by using a tried-and-tested off-site manufacturing system, with timber the main material, which gives the architecture a warm, domestic character despite its modern appearance.
Two-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom townhouses are available through Thames Valley Housing Association on a shared-ownership basis. Prices from £50,000 for a 40 per cent share. Call 020 8607 0550 or email sales tvha@.co.uk.
Due for completion next year, Stratford Halo looms over the main entrance to the Olympic Park and is one of the area's most distinctive new schemes — 704 homes in five buildings, including penthouses in a 43-storey tower. Designed by architect Stock Woolstencroft, the latter is a striking "curvi-linear" structure, crowned with a programmable LED light installation that illuminates and throws a halo around the building, seen for miles. Residents will have access to three triple-height communal sky gardens in the tower, while low-rise blocks are spaced around courtyards.
A riverside promenade, park and children's play area are being created. Lower-cost hot water is supplied by a district heating system and there will be 24-hour concierge services and underground parking.
Apartments for outright sale and shared ownership can be bought off-plan now. Prices start at £212,500 (£53,125 for a 25 per cent share). Call 0845 600 4663 or visit genesishomes.org.uk
In its final phase of 314 homes, Bermondsey Spa is one of the capital's best examples of architecture-led regeneration. Overall, the architectural style is crisp-contemporary, but pleasing and warm, too, fusing different materials such as metal, glass, timber, brick and render. Higher apartments have big terraces and projecting balconies providing impressive views of the city skyline.
One-bedroom apartments are priced from £285,000. Shared-ownership options will be available later this year. Visit bermondseyspa.co.uk or call 020 7231 1200.
Live, work and play
Being built on the site of a former car park, Bromley South Central aims to rejuvenate the tired town centre with a buzzing "live, work and play" quarter that integrates residential, leisure, shopping and the arts. The £90 million scheme, moments from the train station, is set around a new public square and brings 200 private and affordable apartments, a nine-screen Vue multiplex cinema, a 130-bed hotel plus cafés and restaurants offering alfresco dining.
Architect Guy Hallaway says the goal was to create a genuinely vibrant new hub with high-quality design and public realm space. Two plazas, upper and lower, are linked by wide stairs, inspired by Rome's famous Spanish Steps.
To register for one of the homes, call 020 7939 0800. Cathedral Group, the developer, is bringing its regeneration expertise to another suburban project — The Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes, west London.
The 18-acre site was once the headquarters of EMI Records and many classic LPs were produced there. New apartments are being built alongside restored art deco buildings.
Gatefold is the first of the residential blocks — 132 apartments, including shared-ownership flats. Nearby Hayes and Harlington station will be on the new Crossrail route when it opens in 2017.