Farrells create a new horizon for Ilford

Finished exterior remodelled building

Nine years after identifying the opportunity for a landmark scheme next to Ilford station with Crossrail arriving, Farrells architects have completed the transformation of a dated 1980’s office building into 122 high-quality homes, in close proximity to the new railway line. Four additional floors and a new side wing have been added to the original L shaped office building and the façade has been completely remodelled, creating an additional 50% of floor area.

Historically, Ilford is famous for two significant events – in 1879 ‘Ilford Photo’ was established as a major business, manufacturing black and white photographic films, paper and chemicals, and in the 1920’s famous inventor John Logie Baird moved to Ilford to work on the first black and white TV. Farrells used these historical events as inspiration for the design, including pixelated privacy screens on the balconies and gallery access, and the new elevational treatment of the building with a black and white rendered façade accentuated with bright yellow linear bands to reflect the exact colour of the original Ilford film rolls. Insightful research and clever design techniques meant that every detail, including the numbering of the apartments and the graphic design throughout the building, reference these historic and seminal events.

  • Client


  • Location

    Ilford, London

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Horizon building exterior

A single storey extension to the front and side of the building accommodates new retail uses on the ground floor, alongside resident areas such as the main entrance, cycle storage, refuse points and plant rooms. A roof top garden above the new retail unit is an additional amenity, providing much sought-after outside living space in the urban landscape.

In order to make the scheme commercially viable, detailed studies were carried out to maximise the number of residential units within the existing and new structure of the building, whilst maintaining space standards larger than the London Housing Design Guide. A gallery access to the building facing the railway provides dual aspect apartments and a centrally accessed corridor to the southern part of the building extends the structure to create spacious residential units. The internal layout of the apartments are based on a modular system, with a central open-plan living, kitchen and dining area, and en-suite bedrooms coming off the communal areas on either side. Often referred to as the ‘Friends Approach’, this allows for socialising in the shared spaces and secluded private rooms.



The Horizon Building is the latest in a long line of projects by Farrells that see the existing building as a resource, and an opportunity to create a place that is strongly connected to the past. In the case of Ilford the link to black and white television and photography is so strong, that we felt it important to celebrate that in the architectural design.

Judith Kelemen, Senior Architect at Farrells

Perforated façade panels

Overcoming noise issues from the railway station and Ilford Hill was a key consideration, so the cladding design was developed to ensure robust noise elimination. All apartments feature whole house ventilation systems to supply fresh air to the apartments, removing the reliance on opening windows for ventilation, which mitigates the noise from Ilford Hill and the railway line.

Farrells worked closely with the structural engineer and M&E consultants to facilitate the retention and re use of the existing building, as only four additional stories could be added on top of the existing structure with the strengthening to existing columns.

The team worked with experts to provide a glare assessment report to show the measures taken to eliminate glare from the building façade, using materials that made a significant impact. They also worked closely with the Fire Engineering and M&E consultants to ensure a robust and detailed fire strategy that facilitated open plan layouts and resulted in measures that meant the project went over and above building regulations.

Farrells have successfully taken inspiration from Ilford’s monochrome past to create modern, comfortable living spaces, and experience in the market has meant that this innovative project was delivered on time and on budget, achieving a construction cost of less than £200 per square foot.

The Horizon Building is an exceptional piece of urban design and architecture, it is both a pragmatic and creative reuse of what was a very tired office building. With Crossrail arriving it will be the catalyst for change that Ilford needs, and the Horizon Building is a tremendous way to start, providing much needed, high quality housing in an otherwise undersupplied location

Richard McCubbine, Project Director from U+I

Previous 1980s office building (left), finished exterior remodelled building (right)
Plant room