Icona represents the development of a derelict, decaying brownfield site, overlooking the Olympic Park and within 300m of the proposed stadium, into a residential-led, mixed-use landmark scheme. It delivers 249 units together with 1,000 sq m commercial space and a residents’ gym and is made up of an 18-storey tower and two other blocks at seven and four storeys. The brief was to deliver high-quality residential accommodation within a landmark building and form a key stepping stone in the long-term revitalisation and regeneration of the Stratford area. After carrying out a detailed urban analysis of the emerging townscape, the scheme was designed with a bold elliptical shape and clad with a brightly coloured façade to cement its prominent status. Inspiration for the elevations came from studying the work of artist Donald Judd, particularly his use of bold, regular forms, strong colours and industrial materials to create art which emphasises purity of colour, form, space and materials. To achieve planning approval, the development team had to ensure the design tied in with the surrounding areas to provide connectivity and promote integration to the emerging context of Stratford and the Lower Lea Valley. The quality of the public realm was also a key design element, and Icona has a central landscaped courtyard to connect all of the buildings and thereby encourage an integrated community, as well as the ability to extend a new walkway through the site, connecting the Carpenters Estate to the river frontage. The Greater London Authority said: “The architects have sensitively applied a vibrant palette of materials to deliver a colourful, contemporary block, which will be a positive addition to the streetscape and create a strong identity for the area. The design of the public realm has been pivotal in developing this quality scheme.` Icona is a triumph of construction as well as architecture, making extensive use of Modern Methods of Construction, and has already collected a Silver Seal of Excellence at the NHBC Pride in the Job awards. The developer was conscious that using traditional methods to build the façades would involve extensive scaffolding which could possibly damage cladding panels and result in a less than perfect finish. They commissioned a specialist firm to pre-fabricate the external envelope of steel and glass balconies and aluminium panels and distinctive fins. The external wall panels and balconies were manufactured as complete elements and their installation supervised on-site without the need for scaffolding – the majority of the external walls and the entire 18-storey tower were constructed in this manner. Unusually, the 87 affordable units in the scheme use the same materials and style as the open market homes making it a tenure blind development. The result is a high-quality finish with crisp, clean lines, as befitting a building with a strong Olympic context. There are also prefabricated bathroom and ensuite shower room pods throughout the development - divided into two bathroom types and two ensuite types- as well as prefabricated staircases. Icona is a bold, high-quality development which will help drive regeneration of the Lower Lea Valley up to 2012 and beyond.


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