New River Village, Haringey
A high-density, high-price housing estate in north-east Hornsey, built on the 15-acre site of a former waterworks in the early years of the 21st century
The New River is an artificial waterway constructed in the early 17th century to bring potable water from Hertfordshire to London. Following alterations to the river’s course – eradicating what had been known as the Hornsey loop – and the introduction of laws requiring London water companies to filter their output, the New River Company established the Hornsey waterworks in the late 1850s.
The site was reconfigured from the 1880s onwards, and the surviving red-brick buildings dotted around the perimeter of what is now New River Village were the last to be constructed by the New River Company before the Metropolitan Water Board took over in 1904.
At the end of the 20th century Thames Water built a new water treatment plant beside the reservoir (located just beyond the top of the map below), vacating the southern half of the site and freeing it up for redevelopment.
Designed by the trendy urban architects Stock Woolstencroft (now Stockwool), New River Village is one of several London projects undertaken by St James, a joint venture between Thames Water and private developers the Berkeley Group exploiting the opportunities offered by disused utilities sites. When the ‘village’ was completed in 2008 it consisted of 622 studios and apartments in nine blocks with underground car parking.
A (narrow) linear park borders the New River and the Victorian pump house at the entrance to the estate was converted into a restaurant – which has since changed hands two or three times.
The scheme’s highly publicised USP was an arrangement sponsored by St James and facilitated by ‘cultural brokers’ Futurecity allocating the pump house annex to Royal Academy of Arts schools’ students as a gallery and studio complex. This didn’t last long and in 2011 St James sold the gallery to Jehovah’s Witnesses for conversion to a Kingdom Hall. The “groundbreaking cultural partnership” has since been airbrushed from the history of all involved, though at the time of writing it still appears on Futurecity’s abandoned Pinterest page.
New River Village’s architecture won several awards. Some critics expressed fears that its “brash appearance” might not date well but it has at least stood the test of the decade that has passed since its creation.
Postal district: N8