Apex specialises in developing high-quality ‘airspace’ homes on top of existing buildings, addressing the problem of severely limited land supply in built-up cities. It believes there’s potential to create 180,000 such new homes in the capital.

The company hired us to support its scheme – in partnership with Lambeth & Southwark Housing Association and the Mayor of London – to develop 30 affordable homes by extending two large 1950s blocks of flats in London’s Bermondsey area. The scheme was designed to address the acute shortage of affordable housing in central London, as well as to improve the existing buildings.

Apex was proposing to build a double-storey rooftop extension (shown below) using modular construction methods and crane it into place on top of the existing, occupied blocks. It was also planning to add a central section to join the two buildings and ‘bookend’ extensions to each side.

We advised Apex Airspace on a sensitive community engagement approach to outline the scheme to the buildings’ existing residents, explain the construction process and provide opportunities to raise questions and address any concerns.

And we worked closely with Apex’s in-house team to define the most important messages to convey, produce appropriate communication materials for the residents and undertake effective resident engagement, including face-to-face meetings.

Construction would inevitably bring some disruption to the residents and the scheme entailed structural changes to some of the existing homes, so openness, transparency and a willingness to listen were key to winning trust and understanding.

The client’s view

“It’s always important for Apex to have residents at the forefront of our minds when we develop an airspace scheme. We need to give them information in a format they’ll understand, to keep them informed and to address any concerns . TK Associates provided clarity on the message and how we should deliver it, using such items as newsletters and face-to-face meetings to ensure the recipients felt involved and knew we were listening. They also helped prepare us for one-to-one meetings.

Without their insight and support, I don’t believe the resident engagement exercise would have been such a success.”

Andrew Powell, Director, Apex Airspace

You can see a video of the Bermondsey airspace scheme here: