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It’s always exciting to see a project that you have created coming together.
The greyness of the day didn’t attract from the immensity of the building as it has begun to take shape, complementing the plot with its innovative structure and creative design.
With the main structure built, and character of the interior being established, we are well on our way to completing the project in time for our May target.
So, what makes this project so unique?
Even at first glance it is clear that this property doesn’t fall in line with convention. Its dramatic pitched roof, high ceilings, glass exterior and timber structure give it a different feel to the brick houses that Britain has grown so accustomed to. Its open-plan design and use of windows and glass allow it to capture sunlight and create a bright and modern place to live.
What inspired the design?
Our client came to us with a brief of creating a house with a similar feel to the award-winning German Huf Haus design. Big open spaces and natural light appealed to them, however they wanted the house to have a little more privacy and a more ‘homely’ feel than the original German design. We therefore designed a house with some Huf Haus characteristics, such as the pitched roof, high ceiling, terraces and large glass windows to capture natural light, while maintaining some more British features of a home and tailoring the property to suit our clients preferences, such as supplementing a brick wall on the outside ground floor.
What other features does the house have?
We decided to use innovative construction for the new building, settling on Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) from Kingspan TEK. These are made of wood, but their invisible structure gave us freedom with the interior design. Furthermore, their prefabrication meant that construction time was less and there was limited on-site waste. The panels also have high energy efficiency, allowing for a thinner construction than usual insulation.
What comes next?
Although our Stoke Poges build has begun to take shape and acquire character, there are still things to be done before our May deadline. Currently, underfloor heating and electrics are being fitted and then decorating and finishes for the property will commence. We can’t wait to follow the progress of this contemporary and modern design, and are looking forward to seeing the finished product!
Our client came to us with the brief of creating a house with a similar feel to the award-winning German Huf Haus design.
Creeping into the UK market, these timber and glass houses are generally two-storeys high with pitched roof separated at the gable. Typical features include terraces, canopies, roof lights and large windows…we were excited to get started!
The interior is often a very open design with double-height spaces, galleries, high ceilings, open dining, living and kitchen rooms, and connected yet private bedrooms. The design aims to maximise the sunlight and bring the natural world directly into the living space.
Big open spaces and the natural light appealed to our client, but they wanted to have a little more privacy and a more ‘homely’ feel than the original German design.
For the ground floor, we designed a bright, open living dining and kitchen space, capturing sunlight from the top of the roof and big sliding windows and connecting to a glazed dining area..
The bedrooms were placed in the first floor with en-suites and connections to a large terrace.
We decided to use a innovative construction for our new building, settling on Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) from Kingspan TEK. These fit into the Huf House feel as were made of wood and had an invisible structure which allowed interior design freedom. They are also prefabricated which shortens construction time on site meaning that there is minimal on-site waste and internal work can begin earlier. The panels have a thinner construction than usual insulation and high energy efficiency.
To incorporate the look of an English house while maintaining the dark-light contrast feature of a typical Huf Haus, we supplemented a brick wall on the outside ground floor and white walls above.
Does the UK’s Housing Crisis ever seem to slow?
The UK’s shortage of affordable, decent homes continues to persist and with the pressing need to accommodate refugees escaping persecution from abroad, finding solutions to this problem couldn’t be more crucial.
Planners after World War Two faced a considerable feat. They were tasked with finding a solution to deal with accommodation shortage caused by bomb damage, returning service personnel and the resulting baby boom. Their solution? Garden Cities.
Seven Garden Cities were build, based on the concept proposed by Sir Ebenezer Howard in the early 20th century. They were seen to be an opportunity for maximising economies of scale in a sustainable development by creating social housing with zero carbon design, a sustainable transport network and local work and food sourcing. Milton Keynes, one of those cities built after WW2 now attracts over 16,000 net in-commuters and is a successful economic hub in the South East.
Now, there’s no doubt that this was years ago, but how feasible are Garden Cities in the 21st century?
Creating a healthier, safer community with all the amenities at your finger tips does seem appealing. Here are the some benefits of the garden suburb ideal:
Garden cities can replace ageing housing stock with energy-efficient buildings, green spaces and car-free zones.
This will result in cleaner air and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
They can contribute to enhanced mental health
A 17-year study by the University of Exeter found that households living in greener urban environments are likely to have lower levels of mental stress and higher levels of well-being.
This would save the government money…
Sue Holden from the Woodland Trust predicts that the health benefits from access to green spaces could shave £2.1bn off the NHS healthcare bill every year.
They have investment potential
Government schemes- such as the Help-to-Buy and Right-to-Buy- recognise the difficulty young adults and families have getting onto the housing ladder. It is that generation that is most likely to move into an up and coming community, with work and leisure nearby. Garden cities are an opportunity to create new housing for the young and close to employment, it can be a very attractive investment for many.
There is garden space
The space available in the Garden City model allows new houses to benefit from more garden space for each and every unit. The appeal of your own garden and amenity space shouldn’t be underestimated. Not to mention that the shared landscape of the site would be an overall improvement.
Sherford in Plymouth and Cranbrook in Devon are two local examples of Garden Cities. Whilst they are currently small, both have the potential to attract and develop a vibrant community if the houses are sufficiently well laid out and create a new sense of place and in these fantastic locations.
Garden Cities take time to establish and it is not an overnight solution, but rather than allowing ad hoc urban sprawl, they could continue to provide a sustainable and successful answer and create a functional new village or town in a beautiful environment for future generations to come.
When thinking of creative new ideas and designs, we often draw on inspiration from abroad.
This year, we have been fortunate enough to be joined by architect Rocio Oteros from Spain. His interest in housing for later living has offered us unique insight into how this issue is approached in Spain and how it compares to ideas in the UK.
As a firm that is constantly changing and developing, all creative ideas are of value and can spark further ideas and be used as inspiration.
Rocio shared with us three examples from Spain, that show creative use of space and innovative design to enhance the lives of the elderly in their living spaces.
Housing for the Elderly. Seville.
The building was located in a central district of Seville and its architecture was carefully and profoundly detailed. The project worked like a small city where functionality and domesticity merged into a fresh environment. The building was designed to encourage social interaction and integration of a diverse range of people. It had a three-storey building, with plenty of common areas and flexible spaces where residents could dine or socialise together. Common units- like the canteen, medical practices and offices- were located on the ground floor and connected to the outside space that hugged the shape of the building and worked well as a meeting place. The dwellings were located on the first and second floors and articulated along corridors which opened out into communal rooms and outside spaces. This allowed the residents to have spontaneous meetings and areas to socialise.
Later living hounsing in Intxaurrondo. Donosti – San Sebastian.
This project in San Sebastian was located on a site with a sloping topography which made it a challenging project in terms of accessibility. However, this meant that the creativity and innovation involved was even more complex, unique and interesting, making this design particularly special. The proposal consisted of three volumes attached to the boundary of the site. This provided a solution for the slope and created a fantastic open courtyard that worked like a shared plaza. The architects intended to maximise the interaction between the users in this space. The location of the buildings allowed daylight to penetrate the central space and move into the dwellings. Light entered by the windows and terraces creating natural feel and a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere. The tree towers had the same shape although vary in orientation and number of storeys. The apartments were articulated by the circulation core, which was positioned towards the interior of the plaza by the entrances to the buildings. The housing typology was quite basic and simple, adapted to the needs of the elderly. The interior of the dwellings were organised around a central block formed by the kitchen and the bathroom. The living spaces had great views- either facing the open spaces in the heart of the complex or the green area that surrounded the buildings.
Santa Caterina Market Housing. Barcelona.
This extremely original intervention in an historic area in Barcelona was based on the restoration of the Santa Caterina’s Market, and housing units for the elderly were inserted as part of the project. The build was no small feat- 59 houses were created make up of two main developments and a sculptural ensemble. This design created an open interior space which connected with the market and was at the heart of the city centre. The idea was to provide homes for older people who love living in the city centre but relied on safe and adaptable spaces. The standard floor layout had a main corridor that arranged the dwellings to maximise sunlight hours. Despite the standard floor layout, the number of apartments on each floor was different to create terraces and common spaces, where residents could spend time together.
The houses were apartments of one or two bedrooms, very simply organised. Every single house consisted of a personal entrance, a bathroom, a living-dining-kitchen, a bedroom and a terrace so activity in the city centre could be overlooked and enjoyed. The main spaces were also always oriented towards outside.