Designing multi-generational homes and planning for the integration of older people in Britainâ€™s post-war planned neighbourhoods
Phillip Gibb 1
Looking to the future, as they themselves enter major phases of renewal, the New Towns today offer an interesting lens through which to view the prospect of building sustainable communities in a changing world. Anthony Alexander, Britainâ€™s New Towns; Garden Cities to Sustainable Communities, (London & New York: Routledge, 2009), p. 6. 2
Today’s British population appro baby-boomers. They have had d those of their parents – higher st dom of movement, more exposu labour market participation, fewe
Brenton, Maria, ‘Older People’s CoHousing Communities’, in, Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland Eds., Inclusive Housing in an A 8
oaching sixty is the postwar different life experiences from tandards of living, more freeure to different cultures, greater er children & more divorce.
Ageing Society: Innovative Approaches, (Bristol: Policy Press, 2001), pp. 169-188. 9
“This dissertation is the result of my own work and includes nothing which is the outcome of work done in collaboration except where specifically indicated in the text”.
Acknowledgements First, a thank you to all the residents of Harlow who have generously given their time to talk to me about all the things I wanted to and have agreed to let me take photographs and use them in this thesis. Thank you especially Moira for introducing me to so many other people in the town. In this regard my thanks are also due to Ron Bill, who let me look through his own research. At Harlow Council, thank you to Angela Street, and Maureen Pearman and to Colin Endean and Andrew Russell for their inside knowledge and insight on planning issues in the town. Thank you Russell especially, for the population data. Thank you also to David, Chris and Claire at the Museum for their help in the pilot project. The thesis would not have the background it does without the continued help and encouragement of Dawn Hicks. Thank you also to the rest of the sheltered housing team for being so accommodating. Here in Cambridge, I’d like to acknowledge the gentle encouragement of my tutors, Ingrid Schroeder and Joris Fach which has kept this thesis going when the going got tough. Thank you Joris for careful guidance on design issues at key moments, these have been much valued. And thank you, Ingrid, for help, inspiring stories about home environments, as well as vital guidance on the structuring the work. I would like to thank the librarians of the department library for ordering an endless number of books that aided research I would also like to acknowledge the support of Phd candidates Jamie Anderson and Patrick Fleming in their respective fields. Otherwise, I would like to thank my fellow students, for their encouragement and camaraderie throughout the three terms in Cambridge. Thanks especially to Ed for hardware help, and Tom, Matt, Afra and David for listening and commenting on aspects of the work and for being great climb/swim club team mates. Lastly, a thank you is well overdue to my housemate and landlord Tom for reading through early drafts of the writing and for being a patient and thought provoking host during my studies.
Introduction - Design Research and the Neighbourhood At home over Harlow Homes for an ageing population - From sheltered housing to integrated housing Homes for an ageing utopia - Ageing with Harlow’s modernist planning today Research questions Structure of the design thesis Design research and the neighbourhood
Reinvigorating the Neighbourhood Centre - Thesis Masterplan Phase 1 A test bed for modernist urbanism Neighbourhood Centres & wellbeing Remodelling the Stow to ensure thermal comfort Green wedges, no parks Reappropriating remnant green space at the heart of the neighbourhood
1 7 12 18 20 22
24 36 50 59 72
Reinstating the Neighbourhood Centre - Thesis Masterplan Phase 2 Improving connectivity Building on new investment Urban capacity in the neighbourhood
78 90 102
Making the Neighbourhood Centre a Place to Live - Thesis Masterplan Phase 3 Beyond’ independence’ The dawn of a new era? Putting ‘International Style’ back in the New Town The town house - a typology for the New Town Communality and comfort in Harlow’s future housing Today’s 45 year old in 2032 - A co-houser?
116 121 132 134 146 162
Conclusion Consultation Design Guidance The future value of design research
169 170 170
List of Images and Illustrations Bibliography
Jack at Home outside the Stort Tower
I n t r o d u c t i o n Design Research in the Neighbourhood
At home over Harlow Jack was searching through some bins when I met him. I wanted to get inside the tower block overshadowing us both to take some photos, but I wasn’t too sure if he lived there. In his shorts and a baseball cap, wielding a broom, Id first shied away and thought it better to stake it out. After a little while waiting though I plucked up the courage to go and ask him, at first from distance, whether or not he could help me. The response I got was unexpected. “An architecture student? Do you know who designed this block?” A few months earlier I’d been to look at the drawings of the nine storey point block in question at the local museum but, taken aback, I fumbled for an answer. Jack got there first. “German architect.” “It’s the first tower block ever built in Britain. Brilliant compact interiors.” I don’t remember it that way, but before I
can reply he gets there again. “I live on the ninth floor, in the top storey, number 27. Go straight up. My wife’s name is Vera, she’ll be pleased to meet you.”1 Jack and Vera live in a two
bedroom flat on the top floor of the Stort Tower, in the town of Harlow in Essex. The building is a ‘Y’ form plan point block, providing three flats in each storey with spectacular views out over the surrounding landscape. (p. 2-5) As Vera
points out to me, you can see planes landing at Stansted airport in one direction and, on New Years Eve and Guy Fawkes Night, when there are fireworks in central London on the Thames, her friends all invite themselves up to come and watch the show. “We’ve been here over twenty years now” she tells me in her
1 Vera is not the real name of Jack’s wife. This story and Jack’s photograph are included under his permission. His wife didn’t agree to be photographed.
2The Stort Tower
4View from flat 27 looking East over the Mark Hall/Netteswell Neighbourhood - The Water Tower visible from the M11 is on the Horizon
Scottish accent. “It’s a fantastic flat, don’t you think? It would be great to have a garden, but it’s been too long now.” When I ask if I can take some photos Vera replies with great enthusiasm, guiding me around the flat and down the hallway with the aid of a collapsible walking frame. She puts a brave face on, but as she explains, the chronic arthritis she suffers from is highly debilitating and prevents her from getting out as much as she’d like to. With its carriage clocks, drapery and classical statuary, its clear that she’s all the more proud of her home as a result.
Flat number 27
Homes for an Ageing Population - ‘From sheltered housing to integrated housing’ The significance of a person’s home and the impact it can have on their well being in later life has been well established by those who study older people in the field of gerontology. As Sheila Peace, Professor of Social Gerontology at the Open University has stated; “housing is fundamental to the physical, social and psychological well-being of older people.”2 Seen in
Fig. 0.1 The Position of Harlow and the Mark-1 New Towns within the South-East Region
this context, the choices available to older households like Vera and Jack throughout the UK become increasingly important - not just to them, but to society as a whole. Like the rest of the UK, the proportion of the population of Harlow over the age of 65 has recently risen to its highest levels since census statistics began.3 Unlike the rest of the UK however, the growth of this generation in Harlow has been a much less gradual phenomenon. Harlow was one of six new settlements created around the metropolitan area of London under the first phase of Britain’s post-war New Towns programme.4 (Fig 0.1) In its first stages of its growth throughout the 1950s and 1960s the town became home to a very young population. Over the twenty years from the 1951 to the 1971 census the town grew from the initial settlement of 5,000 people to one of 80,000.5 At this moment, over a third of the town’s population were under the age of 14. By contrast, just one person in every twenty was over the age of 65. Services provided by the New Town Development Corporation and the town council that succeeded it were targeted at this young demographic throughout the town’s growth as a result. (Fig 0.2) Thirty years
later, the number of over 65s has quadrupled, and within areas of the town, is as high as one in three.6 (Fig 0.3) This has had a great
impact on housing in the town, in the range of options and services available to older households.
2 Peace, Sheila; Wahl, Hans-Werner; Mollenkopf, Heidrun; & Oswald, Frank; ‘Environment & Ageing’, in, Bond, John; Peace, Sheila; Dittmann-Kohli, Freya & Westerhof, Gerben J., Eds, Ageing in Society: European Perspectives on Gerontology, 3rd Edition, (London & Los Angeles: Sage, 2007), pp. 209-35, this quote, p. 220. 3 The first statistics released from the 2011census suggest that the ageing baby boomers now make up one in six people across the UK. See; ONS, 2011 Census Population and Household Estimates for England and Wales, March 2011, p. 11. 4 The history of the New Towns Programme has of course an extensive literature. For a review of Harlow’s history see Morton, Jane, Harlow: The story of a New Town, (Stevenage: Publications for Companies, 1980) Aspects of the town’s history not covered there can be found in the first essay that supports this thesis, A Town without History by the author. 5 Figures taken from census data in Morton, Op. Cit., Appendix VII. For population statistics of all New Towns in Britain see; Anthony Alexander, Britain’s New Towns; Garden Cities to Sustainable Communities, (London & New York: Routeledge, 2009), p. 49. 6 HDC: Population Data, Disc 1. (Harlow: HDC, 2011) These statistics are based on ONS population projections of 2009.
The demographic specificities of Britain’s New Towns have been noted by a number of recent reviews including those undertaken by the Department for Communities and Local Government.7 As the 2002 report, The New Towns, Their Problems and Future stated: “The population profiles do not reflect national age structures, and the concentrations around particular age groups is placing increased demands on social services, particularly when the population ages.”8 As it was though, this analysis had come too late. For many of the towns, the networks and mechanisms to cope with an ageing population had already been established in the decade and a half before this. Sheltered housing and care home schemes proliferated in Harlow throughout the 1980s and early 1990s as part of the expansion of ‘special needs’ provision in line with government housing policy. Sheila Peace has described this best:
care, capacity and finance. Consequently, for many years issues concerning these planned micro environments have overshadowed not only a wider interest in the general housing stock accommodating the majority of people in later life but also their engagement with and attachment to ageintegrated communities.”9 As gerontologists have recognised the importance of the built environment to the subject of their study in recent times, so they have begun to unpick this history and the effects that these age-segregated environments have on their older residents. The foremost concern that has arisen out of these studies has been the effects of isolation. As ethnographic study by John Percival has shown, amongst the beneficial aspects of being part of an “environment in which their strategies for maintaining self-esteem are shared and strengthened”, there are also negative effects.10 As he says: “the age-segregated setting may exacerbate feelings of loss, loneliness and alienation, emphasise tendencies to exclude others and limit availability of, or desire for, social interaction with fellow tenants.”11
“During the second half of the twentieth century the development of age-segregated institutional and residential settings providing both housing and long-term care was of special interest to policymakers, providers and regulators in North America and Europe concerned with quality of 7 The problem of ageing featured again in the follow-up report to this of 2006. See DCLG, Transferable Lessons from the New Towns, (London: TSO, 2006) An earlier recognition of the problem can be found in: Harman, R. and Joy, D. ‘Growing elderly problem in new towns’, in, Town and Country Planning, Vol. 56 (Nov 87), pp. 298-9. And also: Potter, Stephen, ‘New town legacies’, in, Town and Country Planning, Vol. 61, No 11/12, Nov-Dec 1992, pp. 298-302. 8 DTLGR, The New Towns: Their Problems and Future, (London: HMSO, 2002), p. 28.
9 Peace, Sheila; Wahl, Hans-Werner; Mollenkopf, Heidrun; & Oswald, Frank; ‘Environment & Ageing’, in, Bond, John; Peace, Sheila; Dittmann-Kohli, Freya & Westerhof, Gerben J., Eds, Ageing in Society: European Perspectives on Gerontology, 3rd Edition, (London & Los Angeles: Sage, 2007), pp. 209-35. This quote p. 217. 10 Mcgrail, Brian; Percival, John and Foster, Kate, ‘Integrated Segregation? Issues from a range of housing/care environments’, in, Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland Eds., Inclusive Housing in an Ageing Society: Innovative Approaches, (Bristol: Policy Press, 2001), pp. 147-168, this quote, p. 165. 11 Mcgrail, Brian; Percival, John and Foster, Kate, ‘Integrated Segregation? Issues from a range of housing/care environments’, in, Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland Eds., Inclusive Housing in an Ageing Society: Innovative Approaches, (Bristol: Policy Press, 2001), pp. 147-168, this quote, p. 165.
Fig. 0.2 Demographic Spreads in 1971 (Left) and 2001 (Right) for the UK (Light Grey) and Harlow (Dark Grey)
UK Population Profile
% Total Population
Harlow Population Profile
Harlow Population Profile
6 UK 2001
% Total Population
8 HUD 1971
% Total Population
6 HUD 2001
% Total Population
Fig. 0.3 Proportion of Harlowâ€™s Population over the age of 65, in 1971 (Top), 2001 (Middle) and in particular areas of the town today (bottom).
Mark Hall Today 9
The possibility for a household to move in to sheltered housing is itself becoming an increasingly rare opportunity at the moment. Within the last few years, many sheltered housing schemes throughout the UK have begun to be decommissioned as “some properties have become unattractive and ‘hard to let’.”12 In Harlow with the provision of sheltered housing being reduced by almost a quarter. 13 Beyond how the buildings look however, this is also a result of changing public attitudes to age-segregated environments. Within the UK these changes are still in their infancy, yet surveys taken in the US suggest the sentiments and aspirations that future generations of older people may bring to the question of how they are housed:
“ Perhaps because the [baby] boomers are watching their parents and grandparents struggle with these choices, [institutional care environments] or perhaps because of their generational commitment to remaining youthful and independent, only 9 to 20 per cent of boomers say they want to live in an age-restricted environment.”14 The next twenty years will hold changes at the fundamental level of what our conceptions of life in old age are. If, as gerontologists predict, the current trends in older people living alone continue, this will provide a new problem for, and add further impetus to, housing older generations. “50% of the ‘second baby-boomers’ may be expected to live alone at the age of 75, compared to 38% of the older cohort born in 1930. We can therefore see that, as they age, younger groups will be even more likely to live alone in later life than the present population of older people – and living alone is one of the major factors which can lead people to seek alternative living arrangements.”15 12 Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland, ‘Housing an Ageing Society’, in, Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland Eds., Inclusive Housing in an Ageing Society: Innovative Approaches, (Bristol: Policy Press, 2001), pp. 1-26. This quote, p. 15. 13 Correspondence with Dawn Hicks, Sheltered Housing Officer, Harlow Town Council 14 Dunham-Jones & Williamson, Op. Cit., p. 180. 15 Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland, ‘Housing an Ageing Society’, in, Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland Eds., Inclusive Housing in an Ageing Society: Innovative Approaches, (Bristol: Policy Press, 2001), pp. 1-26. This quote, p. 8.
Jubille Tea Party at Katherines House, Harlow For many individuals, especially women, sheltered housing has great social benefits. But this is not the case for everyone. As Sheila Peace suggests: â€œIn practice the ageing of tenants has led to greater dependency on warden and care services, to some extent putting off younger retired people.â€œ
Homes for an Ageing Utopia - Ageing with Harlow’s Modernist Planning Today Within the planned urban structures of the New Towns however, this will not simply be a problem of an ageing population. The New Towns themselves are ageing and this will add a further dimension to decision making about how older people are housed within them. Growth and change within towns that were planned as finished entities are far more difficult to effect than in urban areas that have emerge d organically. For Harlow and the other Mark-1New Towns one side of this has simply been the lack of opportunities and incentives for investment. With their planned economies that were based around light manufacturing, the employment markets of Mark 1 New Towns declined in step with the rest of British manufacturing as the last century drew to a close. And over the last twenty years in particular, the New Towns have acquired a reputation for deprivation. Government reports set out to outline their “social and economic problems” 16 and a number of commentators confirmed their rank with numbers drawn from the Indices of Multiple Deprivation:
in which they reside.”17 Although some New Towns like Harlow and Basildon were targeted as points for housing growth as a part of the last Labour Government’s Growth Areas plan, the neighbourhood structures of their urban plans, has limited development to the fringes of the towns. (Fig 0.4) (Fig. 0.6, p. 16) In Harlow, the actual built reality of housing growth throughout the 90s in the Church Langley area and more recently over the last decade at New Hall has improved the image of the town in the public eye.18 Yet, as a glance at the indices of deprivation suggests, on many levels, including employment and crime, because of the nature of both these areas as further stages of the town’s initial neighbourhood plan, they remain discrete districts working in their own spheres, separate from the New Town. (Fig 0.5) For older people resident in any of the four neighbourhoods of the original New Town, these new areas offer little in the way of new forms of housing targeted at their needs and levels of affordability. And so, resigned to their fate, Harlow’s older generation remain, trying to adapt to the urban structures that were initially designed to house them as children.
“Worryingly, three quarters of the 20 English new towns are among the 50 per cent most-deprived authorities, with two in the worst ten per cent. All bar two are more deprived than the county 16 p. 7.
17 Joey Gardiner, ‘The New Towns’, in, Regeneration & Renewal, (Oct 29, 2004), pp. 19-23, p. 20. See for instance: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/ 18 newhomes/3323279/Urban-chic-finds-a-home-in-the-countryside.html
DTLGR, The New Towns: Their Problems and Future, (London: HMSO, 2002),
Fig. 0.4 The Mark-1 New Towns’ Neighbourhood Structures
Fig. 0.5 Harlow Mapped by Government Statistics in the form of the Indices of Multiple Deprivation. Total (Left) And Employment (Right) â€œIn total 38 separate indicators, which are grouped into seven domains each of which reflects a different aspect of deprivation, are used to produce an overall Index of Multiple Deprivation score for each small area in England. The domains used in the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2010 are income, employment, health, education, crime, access to services and living environment. Each of these domains has their own scores and ranks allowing users to focus on specific aspects of deprivation.â€? (DCLG, English Indices of Deprivation, 2010, p. 1)
HH DD Y
Harlow Today - An aerial view of the town and its context in west Essex The lighter dots highlight the areas where housing is currently being constructed. New Hall is the lowest of these on the right. Other greenfield development at Gilden Way and New Hall Farm (Top right) is considered very controvercial and is being blocked by the local council and residents. It is currently under planning review. 14
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Population HDevC Completions Private Completions
Fig. 0.6 Plans for growth in Harlow Harlow itself has never really been far from new plans for housing growth. In the decade from 1963 to 1974 its Development Corporation, the body established by government to oversee the construction of the town, was required to draft up no less than five plans to expand the original masterplan for the town. 1 The first of these, the 1963 Expansion Plan, saw the town expanding by 150% to a population of 120,000 from the original 80,000. Though all of these came to nothing, following a report by the sociologist Ruth Glass that made population predictions of a total shrinking to under 50,000 people, new building work again became prioritised, though this time, to be undertaken by private enterprise.2 With the approval of plans to expand Stansted Airport in 1984 Harlow‘s position at the halfway point between Cambridge and London gave rise to the sixth neighbourhood ‘Church Langley’ and ultimately the seventh; ‘Newhall’. Until the East of England Regional Plan was revoked by the incoming government in late 2010, development at New Hall and Church Langley had also been planned to be accompanied by another 10,000 homes (22,000 people) in ‘Harlow North’ - the equivalent of another three neighbourhoods of the New Town.
Morton, Op. Cit., Chapters 9 & 15. Morton, op. Cit., p. 342.
Research Questions So how can older households be integrated more successfully within the existing planned structures of post-war new towns? How do the rigid planning mechanisms and neighbourhood structure of a town like Harlow impact on the wellbeing of older people living there today? And how can this structure and the built forms within it be remodelled and adapted to support an ageing demographic whilst remaining open to future changes as it evolves? Structure of thesis/scheme This design thesis structured in the form of a masterplan to reconfigure the neighbourhood centre of the Mark Hall/ Netteswell neighbourhood in Harlow. Through the addition of new, integrated, multi-generational forms of housing in which older households are mixed with younger families, the small commercial centre at the heart of the neighbourhood is reimagined as an inclusive, extended home environment for the neighbourhoodâ€™s ageing population. The masterplan has three phases. (Fig 0.7) Each, builds on the former as part of an investment framework to reinvigorate, reinstate and then re-imagine the centre.
Fig. 0.7 Aerial view of the Thesis Masterplan Phase 1 - Revitalising the Neighbourhood Centre - Remodelling of Neighbourhood Centre Block B and reappropriation of adjacent remnent greenspace - orange Phase 2 - Reinstating the centre - supermarket and courtyard block - blue Phase 3 - Making the centre a place to live - Town House Rows - red 18
The first phase involves the remodelling of existing underutilised space within and around the centre. This includes the adaptation of the existing retail units within the neighbourhood centre blocks through a change of use to dwellings for older people. It also encompasses areas outside the immediate neighbourhood centre site through the reappropriation of a network of remnant green spaces to mediate the availability and poor access to green space within the neighbourhood today. The second phase deals with the extension of the neighbourhood centre ensemble as investment from a medium sized supermarket retailer becomes available. This is based on the real brief produced for a planning application already made for the site which is then developed further to incorporate the supermarket around a new central public space. At this stage of the masterplan, proposals are also made to develop the connectivity of the centre. The third phase of the thesis masterplan speculates on the renewed ability of the local council to invest in its housing stock in the near future and the emergence of new forms of self-build â€˜co-housingâ€™ in the UK that might work in conjunction with this. At this stage a proposal is made for the development of between fifty and a hundred new dwellings to be constructed on the service yard area that currently makes up the back of the centre. Each of the sections deals in turn with different issues related to the wellbeing of older people, moving from the impact of public open spaces to the interior itself. Though the home environment remains present throughout, the majority of design work at this scale takes place in the third phase. The sections are weighted to reflect this accordingly, becoming increasingly detailed in their design outlines as the requirement for intervention develops.
Fig. 0.8 Section through the Thesis Masterplan 20
Design Research and the Neighbourhood Design is present throughout the thesis as a propositional research method whereby the process of making and altering proposals is monitored to garner knowledge about the issues in play. This is supplemented throughout by a more ethnographical and historical set of research methods. In this way the thesis contributes to the existing literature on New Towns and housing for older people in the UK to demonstrate what the field of architecture can offer within cross-disciplinary research. For, as Sheila Peace has remarked about the field of gerontology: “There is a tendency in scholarly work to ‘de-contextualise’ human ageing from the environment, the day-to-day surroundings in which a person’s growing older really takes place.”19
By spatialising proposals for more inclusive, integrated forms of housing for older people, architectural design clearly has a role to play in furthering the research of gerontologists. Indeed, this has already begun to happen in other parts of the world, as publications emerging in the last twelve months demonstrate.20 But the attention of the thesis to the Mark--1 New Towns and Harlow in particular has another dimension as research. As Hugh Barton, Professor of Planning, Health and Sustainability at the University of the West of England has suggested:
The principle of the neighbourhood planning was a major force in British post-war town planning and when it came to putting the theory into practice, the New Towns, and Harlow in particular, were the testing ground for its application. From the standpoint of today, as Barton has also highlighted; “theories about neighbourhoods have progressed little since the era of new town plans, and any skills developed then have been forgotten or sidelined.”22 This thesis is also about re-engaging with this legacy. In the context of current legislation such as the Localism Act and the neighbourhood plans it wishes to promote, the thesis might also be used to assess the potential of making small scale interventions that have a broader impact at the scale of the town. To be sure, in its masterplan, the thesis does not pretend to have the scope to take on the whole of a New Town, and in using Harlow as a case study, it acknowledges the specificities of each of the six settlements. Although, as Barton describes, the neighbourhood does hold answers to the problems perceived by many to be found in a place like Harlow.
“Neighbourhoods can be cast as a pivotal spatial scale for change. Neighbourhoods have a special role in a transition to sustainable settlements. Their unique scale in human habitation makes them small enough to reflect the personal lifestyles, social networks and quality of life, yet they are also of sufficient size for their nature to affect the environmental impacts and economic functions of districts, towns and cities.”21 19 Peace, Sheila; Wahl, Hans-Werner; Mollenkopf, Heidrun; & Oswald, Frank; ‘Environment & Ageing’, Op. Cit., p. 210. 20 Two particularly good examples are: Cisneros, Henry, Dyer-Chamberlain, Margaret and Hickie, Jane, Eds. Independent for Life; Homes and Neighbourhoods for an Aging America, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2012) and within a New Town context in Japan; Andrew Scott & Eran Ben-Joseph, ReNew Town: Adaptive Urbanism and the Low Carbon Community, (London & New York: Routeledge, 2012) 21 Hugh Barton, Marcus grant and Richard Guise, Shaping Neighbourhoods; for local health and global sustainability, 2nd Edition, (London & New York: Routeledge, 2010), p. 5.
22 Hugh Barton, ed., Sustainable Communities: the potential for eco-neighbourhoods, (London: Earthscan, 2000), p. 4.
Out and about in Harlow’s Mark Hall/Netteswell neighbourhood
Reinvigorating the Neighbourhood Centre Thesis
A Test bed for modernist urbanism At a broad, generic level, many of the complications encountered in the New Towns due to the age of their fabric are relatively well documented. As test beds for the architectural modernism of mid-century Britain, the planning of the New Towns drew on a broad range of ideas and subsequently as the few complete examples of this moment in design history they have become a key touchstone for historians, with much written about the genealogies of the design thinking behind them. 1 A number of the key principles of functionalist urbanism laid down in documents such as the Athens Charter were brought to the table by the architect-planners employed.2 These ideas included zoning 1 See Bullock, Nicholas, Building the Post-War World: Modern Architecture & Reconstruction in Britain, (London & New York: Routeledge, 2002); Gold, John R., The Experience of Modernism: Modern Architects & The Future City – 1928-53, (London: E & FN Spon, 1997). And; Darling, Elizabeth, Re-forming Britain: Narratives of modernity before reconstruction, (London & New York: Routeledge, 2007) details how this was all set in place before reconstruction began. 2 William Curtis, Modern Architecture since 1900, (London & New York: Phaidon, 1982), p. 173. Harlow’s use of Frederick Gibberd as Architect-Planner is the example usually referred to with his membership of the MARS Group of architects and CIAM by association.
of uses for ‘living’, ‘working’ and ‘recreation’ and the segregation of circulation separating vehicular traffic from pedestrians. (fig. 1.0) Alongside this, borrowed ideas, such as those developed before the war in the U.S. at the new commuter town of Radburn were promoted by the Ministry of Town and Country Planning. 3 A broad look at Harlow today shows how some of this structuring has remained with the continuation of what have now become very familiar industrial estates at Pinnacles to the West of the Town and Templefields in the North East corner. The town’s subnetwork of pedestrian and cycle routes that run throughout it are also still an aspect of its make up as a place. In places they brush up against the direct routes of the arterial road system that divides the town. However, the most significant structuring device in the Harlow plan - one that, as historian Nigel Taylor confirm s “was evident in the master plans for all the post-war ‘Mark-1’ new towns” - has undoubtedly been the neighbourhood unit. 4 (p.14-15) 3 Anthony Alexander, Britain’s New Towns: Garden Cities to Sustainable Communities, (London & New York: Routeledge, 2009), p. 77. 4 Nigel Taylor, Urban Planning Theory since 1945, (London: Sage, 1998), p. 33.
Fig. 1.0 Harlow’s Urban Infrastructure - Many of the functionalist aspects of the New Towns’ Planning are now invisible because they are so common. Harlow’s sub-network of routes for cycles and pedestrians (highlighted in yellow) are perhaps the only exception to this. The four planned neighbourhoods of the original plan are on the left, clockwise from top left, Little Parndon, Mark Hall/Netteswell, Bush Fair & Great Parndon. Top right is Old Harlow, distinguishable by its form along the old parish street pattern. Church langley, bottom right and New Hall, Right Centre are the newest areas.
Harlow was planned as a conglomeration of what was initially intended to be five neighbourhoods. (fig. 1.1) At a first pass they can all too easily merge together into one homogenous blur of trees, shrubbery and white barge boards. But because they were each designed and built at different stages over a period of 30 years, if you look hard enough, each of the neighbourhoods retains some of its own character. (fig. 1.2, p. 30-33) The first, what is now known as ‘Old Harlow’ is the town, or village that existed before the New Town was designated. It has since been added to in small parcels but remains home to only a small proportion of the town’s 80,000 population (5,850). About 1200 of those people however are classified as ‘older’ by the local council – being either male and over the age of 65 or female and over 60.5 This is one of the highest concentrations of older people in the town at just over 25%. (fig. 1.3, p. 34) In the main these people are living in bungalows and other larger individual homes. As such it is not typical of the neighbourhoods in the New Town proper. In Old Harlow, owner occupation of a detached house is the norm, whereas elsewhere “the Council is by far the largest single owner of homes…making up over 30% of the homes in Harlow.”6
5 HDC: Population Data, Disc 1. (Harlow: HDC, 2011) These statistics are based on ONS population projections of 2009. 6 HDC, Harlow Council Housing Services Business Plan 2011-41, (Harlow: HDC, 2011), p. 16.
Fig. 1.1 Harlow’s Neighbourhood Structure as planned in 1948 (top) and Metabolism today (bottom). (Orange circles represent neighbourhood centres, triangles, likely movemement. Light grey dotted lines are the industrial areas. Light Grey solid lines is the M11 motorway, as planned and built. Darker Grey line is to indicate introduction of mainline train station in 1961. The four new town neighbourhoods (left above) were intended to be relatively self-suffucient ‘closed-cells’ . Over the past 60 years the neighbourhood structure has been added to with two further neighbourhoods (right bottom). Clearly, patterns of movement are more complicated than imagined in the town’s original plan. 29
Fig. 1.2 (including last spread) Harlowâ€™s 5 Neighbourhoods From Left, p. 46: Old Harlow, Little Parndon, Bush Fair, Great Parndon, and Mark Hall/Netteswell (this page) Opposite Maisonette Blocks in the Little Parndon Neighbourhood by Powell and Moya 33
Number 65+ males and 60+ females 400 + 370 - 399 340 - 369 310 - 339 280 - 309 250 - 279 220 - 249 190 - 219 160 - 189 130 - 159
28 % - 29.9 % 26 % - 27.9 % 24 % - 25.9 % 22 % - 23.9 % 20 % - 21.9 % 18 % - 19.9 % 16 % - 17.9 % 14 % - 15.9 % 12 % - 13.9 % 10 % - 11.9 % 8 % - 9.9 %
Fig. 1.3 Distribution of Older Population in Harlow by Super Output Area (SOA) Gross Numbers (Above) and as a Percentage of total population (below). [Statistics are based on ONS population projections of 2009] 34
Throughout the four New Town neighbourhoods, the over 60/65 population is relatively evenly spread. The first two neighbourhoods to be developed were Little Parndon and Mark Hall/Netteswell. They were constructed quite steadily throughout the middle of the 1950s to begin the settlement and its economy.7 Today they are home to just over a quarter of the town’s population and include the area with the highest concentration of older residents where just under one in every three people is over the age of 60/65. (fig.1.4) Following these areas during the late 1950s was the neighbourhood of Bush Fair – a part of the town that added to existing small settlements around the southern part of the designated area. It set a precedent for some of the higher density areas that were to follow in the early 1960s as part of the fourth neighbourhood, Great Parndon. Today they are also home to their own share of the town’s older generation though they typically make up one in every five residents there. Within these five neighbourhoods, the majority of older people live in their own homes. Because of the housing stock present in Harlow, many of these are flats and terraced houses. As a recent housing survey detailed; “50% of the housing stock in the town is terraced, 22% is flats, and 10% is detached.”8 We will see later on how these dwelling typologies and their imbalance in proportion within Harlow by comparison with settlements in the surrounding areas of Essex and Hertfordshire may impact upon future generations of older people in Harlow. 7 All figures for start and completion dates are taken from Morton, Op. Cit., Appendix VI. 8 Opinion Research Services, Strategic Housing Market Assessment Report, Executive Summary, (Harlow: HDC, 2008), p. 5.
Fig. 1.4 Typical mid-morning street scene in the Stow, the neighbourhood centre of the Mark hall/Netteswell neighbourhood. (Area of highest concentration of older people highlighted in fig. 1.3 bottom)
Neighbourhood Centres & wellbeing The most important part of the urban structuring remaining for those living in Harlow today are the neighbourhood centres within each neighbourhood. For older people in particular, they are an important part of their lives and can contribute positively to their continued wellbeing and quality of life. There are three main ways in which they do this (fig.1.5): 1. The small retail services they offer including top-up food shopping, chemists, post-office, hair-dressers, and newsagents. 2. As recognised spaces for social interaction 3. As sites for small and part-time employment These roles of the neighbourhood centres in the lives of older people in the town have become jeopardised of late. In the Great Parndon area, the Staple Tye centre was demolished and replaced with a larger scale, ‘Essex barn’ supermarket. This, of course, has also happened at several other neighbourhood centres in the other Mark-1 New Towns. This type of development however, with its attendant security measures inhibits many of the everyday practices which contribute to the three ways in which older people benefit from the neighbourhood centre. Firstly, and most immediately, the services that the Neighbourhood Centres provide can prove vital for those elderly residents of the town who suffer with some sort of mobility problem. Despite recent expansion of convenience goods food retailing through larger shed development supermarkets,
Fig. 1.5 The value of the neighbourhood centres to the wellbeing of local older residents is clear. (From left) The Stow in Mark Hall/Netteswell and its services, recognised use as a social meeting space, and small employment.
the Stow still fulfils a basic retail function in the realm of “top-up food shopping and weekly needs of the centre’s local resident population” as a 2007 retail study reported.9 The other neighbourhood centres in the town also manage to continue to provide this role, though as this study pointed out and subsequent development of a supermarket at the Great Parndon neighbourhood centre shows, the extent and the success of this can vary. As with the issue of deprivation in the town however, close observation often demonstrates the difficulties of drawing blanket conclusions about their future. In his study, Anthony Alexander suggested that: “Starved of the vitality of being a through-route, neighbourhoods atrophied…locating neighbourhood centres away from the main transport routes could leave them economically depressed.10 Yet the retail study reported that: “From our visits to The Stow there are no outward signs that shops and businesses in the centre are necessarily failing, although the shopping precinct is clearly in need of improvement and investment. The Inspector also concluded at the Local Plan Inquiry…that, although The Stow was a little ‘tired’ in parts, it “appears to be thriving”.”11 Five years on from this report in a much changed national economic climate, a visit to the Stow today shows the resilience of the Neighbourhood Centre typology of the New Towns. 9 GVA Grimley, Retail Study & Town Centre Health Check, (Harlow: HDC, 2007), p. 51. 10 Alexander, Op. Cit., p. 117-18. 11 GVA Grimley, Retail Study & Town Centre Health Check, (Harlow: HDC, 2007), p. 53.
The continued success of the Neighbourhood Centres not only benefits Harlow’s older people as a place to meet and shop. A number of the retail premises in the Stow and at Bush Fair employ older people as well. (fig.1.6) For those that might be working, full or part time, small supplements to income can be important. As Sheila Peace notes: “one of the most significant barriers to older people fully taking part in the life of the community has been their relative poverty compared to the working population. “12 Though at the moment this is only a small aspect of the centre’s offer, in time this could well prove to be a more important aspect of a Neighbourhood Centre’s daily life. As Peace has since written: “We forecast that older people, particularly those in their third age, in the future will make substantial contributions to wealth creation in European economies…Aside from leisure and consumption, this may often be in…active roles in political or religious organisation sand other forms of civic and community participation.”13 In the current economic climate, the coalition government has replaced housing growth in Harlow with the promise of new jobs. The designation of an Enterprise Zone within the bounds of the Templefields industrial area has been a strategic move to create 2,000 jobs in the town. As the brochures and reports of the programme suggest however, the jobs they create are unlikely to be filled by over 65s: “For residents of Harlow and West Essex, the targeted sectors offer employment opportunities at a wide range of skill levels including the opportunity for business start up within the sectors and their supply chains.”14 12 Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland, ‘Inclusive Housing’, in, Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland Eds., Inclusive Housing in an Ageing Society: Innovative Approaches, (Bristol: Policy Press, 2001), pp. 235-260. This quote, p. 250. 13 Bond, John; Peace, Sheila; Dittmann-Kohli, Freya & Westerhof, Gerben J; ‘Ageing into the Future’, in, Bond, John; Peace, Sheila; Dittmann-Kohli, Freya & Westerhof, Gerben J., Eds, Ageing in Society: European Perspectives on Gerontology, 3rd Edition, (London & Los Angeles: Sage, 2007), pp. 296-308. This quote, p. 306. 14 HDC, Enterprise West Essex at Harlow, (Harlow: HDC, 2011) p. 5.
Fig. 1.6 Employment at the Stow
Amongst the recognised types of outdoor spaces that make up the environment between buildings in Harlow hard landscaped areas are few and far between. What PPG17 describes as â€œcivic spaces, including civic and market squares, and other hard surfaced areas designed for pedestriansâ€?15 appear at first glance to be quite insignificant. As an overview of the Mark Hall/Netteswell neighbourhood highlights, as a proportion of the total area of outdoor space, they account for between just 2 and 3 per cent. (fig.1.7) 15
ODPM, PPG17 Op. Cit., p. 14.
Fig. 1.7 Green Space catergorisation in the Harlow Local Plan for Mark Hall/Netteswell 40
In order to begin the process of reinvigorating and reinstating the Stow, the first stage of the thesis masterplan instigates some simple, low budget remodelling of retail units within areas of the centre that have underperformed for an extended period. On the Western side of the northern square, a row of four retail units have been lying empty for two to three years. (fig.1.8) Because of their location away from the main path of connectivity running through the Stow, these units have been difficult to let for some time. (fig.1.9) This is compounded by the low daylight levels around the corner of the block and a lack of sunlight reaching much of the east faĂ§ade after midday. That these four particular units within Block B are of a significantly smaller area than those throughout the rest of the centre (56mÂ˛ as oppose to has also hampered their success as rentable space as retailing practices have evolved over the last 60 years. Moreover, this is furthered by the fact that Block B is 4 storeys whereas all other blocks are only 3. (fig.1.10) It is likely that the load bearing brick walls between the units can not be altered to the same extent as elsewhere in the Stow as a result.
Fig. 1.8 Stow Block B from the North Square 42
Fig. 1.10 The different organisations of the Stow podium blocks From left, Block A; has the largest shops with maisonettes directly above and a canopy on its front facade; Block B ahas the smallest shops, with maisonettes pushed forward out of the block to form a collonade beneath. This then has a row of bed-sits in the fourth storey. Block C has shops of a size between the two and is oriented north south.
Fig. 1.9 Block B within the North West Corner of the Stow 43
The Stow was constructed over several stages as the Mark Hall/ Netteswell neighbourhood grew around it. The first three blocks, A, B and C were completed in early 1953. These were then added to over the next decade firstly by completing the east side of the street with Block D and closing it at the south end with Block E. Block F was added to extend the form in 1963. The Stow was modelled on the Lansbury Market Square scheme that Frederick Gibberd developed for the 1951 Festival of Britain’ Live Architecture Exhibition’ in Poplar, East London. It provided the model for a whole generation of Neighbourhood Centre buildings. (fig.1.11) Over the thirty year period of the Mark 1 New Town’s construction, the form of these neighbourhood centres morphed into various different things, but the basic functions stayed broadly the same. Where commercial retail areas of neighbourhood centres continue to remain disused, temporary use-changes can be utilised by the local authority to avoid the perception of neighbourhood centres as ‘failing’. Within the neighbourhood centres however, the type of re-use that has recently begun to fill empty shops in the town centre, such as artist’s studios and galleries, might be expected to be less forthcoming. Following the recent spate of sheltered housing decommissions, there is evidence of a short-term need to provide small, affordable dwellings for those older people who might not be able to afford a larger home and other ‘homeless’ residents of the town.
The Stow ca. 1955
Fig. 1.11 The New Town Neighbourhood Centre Type ( x - redeveloped)
Sheltered housing managed and administered by the local authority in Harlow houses approximately 1,000 of the town’s 11,500 over 65s. (fig.1.12) As gerontologist Sheila Peace has said: “Between 1979 and 1989 England’s total housing stock rose by 10%, but the number of sheltered housing units rose by 69% as public housing policy shifted from general needs to special needs provision.”16 Today, the quantity of sheltered housing in the UK is falling as it becomes seen as one option amongst a spectrum of care environments. In Harlow, this has been very much the case with the decommissioning of accommodation at a number of sites where units have become hard to let. 17 Though in some schemes this has come as a result of problems within interiors, in the majority of cases this has been a result of their locations within the town. (fig.1.13) 16 Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland, ‘Housing an Ageing Society’, in, Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland Eds., Inclusive Housing in an Ageing Society: Innovative Approaches, (Bristol: Policy Press, 2001), pp. 1-26. This quote, p. 15. 17 Correspondence with Dawn Hicks, Sheltered Housing Officer, Harlow Town Council
Fig. 1.13 Harlow’s 17 Sheltered Housing Schemes and their relationship to green spaces in the town. (Shown in white) (See spread on page 62-3 for green space in detail)
Fig. 1.12 Harlowâ€™s Sheltered Housing Schemes
Remodelling the Stow to ensure thermal comfort The first concern of the thesis scheme explores strategies to retrofit existing office and retail units in Blocks A and B of the Stow as dwellings for older people. In Block B, by removing the nonstructural portion of the flat roof of the shop currently serving as a rather unloved, featureless yard to the maisonettes above, (fig.1.14) a private outdoor space is created at the back of the home directly accessible from the bedroom space. This enclosed courtyard can be either partitioned off to make the space completely private or left as a longer shared courtyard between the four residents of the units. (fig.1.16, over page) Within, because the units have a relatively tall clear height (2.9m from floor to ceiling) for the rooms created, the scheme makes use of a floating timber floor, made accessible by short ramps under the colonnade on the eastern side. (fig.1.15) This is the dwellings â€˜front doorâ€™, though they are also accessible through the yard. On this east side of the dwelling, the interior layout can be adapted to allow two residents to share and benefit from a slightly bigger kitchen. The office spaces in the second and third stories of the northern corner of Block A could also be remodelled into dwellings to create more activity around the access core that is accessed off the underpass that runs between the blocks. In this initial phase of the masterplan, the thesis scheme also makes proposals to resurface parts of the northern square to provide a softer landscaped area in front of the new dwellings.
Fig. 1.14 The existing yards at first floor level on the west side of blocks A and B of the Stow provide little amenity value other than in the summer months in evenings. 50
Fig. 1.15 Plan. Phase 1 Proposal for Remodelling of Ground Floor Shop Units as Dwellings
Fig. 1.16 Private outdoor spaces with the opportunity to share areas between the group.
Fig 1.17 Spalling Brickwork and Warping Roof Felt, Mark Hall/Netteswell, July 2012 54
The Government reviews of the New Towns were keen to highlight the material deficiencies in their built housing stock. Summing up the 2006 study comment was made on wholesale replacement of districts to counter â€œa lack of durability, largely because of the use of untried materials and detailing.â€?18 Closer examination of the fabric of Harlow however suggests that this is amore complex and varied issue than such an analysis suggests. Especially in the Mark Hall/Netteswell neighbourhood, because dwellings are almost entirely constructed using load bearing, cavity brick and blockwork, often the problems encountered are far more familiar. Torn or warped roof felt, rotting timber eaves, asbestos insulation exposure and spalling brickwork are far more likely to be a problem in the area than crumbling in-situ concrete or draughts through gaps between large pre-fabricated panels. (fig.1.17 & 1.18) In terms of impacts on energy use, it is the type of dwelling and the extent of its external envelope that really determines how well it performs. As a brief look at energy certificates of different dwellings in the Mark Hall North area highlights, in the benign climate of West Essex, mid-terrace properties can provide small cost savings for their owners. In terms of construction, the Stow is an anomaly within the town. While blocks D-F all used cavity wall construction for the maisonette flats above the shops, the first three blocks A-C were constructed in solid 14-inch brickwork. (fig.1.19, 1.20 over page) The strategy developed in the thesis scheme seeks to utilise the thermal mass of this structure that is already present. The lack of a cavity within this solid brickwork means that simple retrofit strategies can not be implemented within the structure itself. In addition to the use of a floating floor, to counter the thermal transmittance through the walls the scheme proposes wrapping the external walls with a highly insulated pre-fabricated timber structure clad in glazed bricks. (fig.1.21, over two pages) 18
DCLG, Transferable Lessons, Op. Cit., p. 88.
Fig 1.18 Spalling Brickwork, The Stow 55
Of course, thermal comfort is an important aspect for everybody in maintaining health and well-being in a purely physiological sense. Where it can really have an effect in the lives of older people however is in its secondary, knock-on effects on well-being. As Day and Hitching have highlighted, many older people will forego other essentials in order to retain their comfort inside the home: “several households said they would cut back on most other things before cutting back on heating.”19 Many studies of older people have emphasised their financial vulnerability in the context of paying fuel bills. Back in 2001, Sheila Peace described the financial circumstances of many older people thus: “The financial situations of individual older people vary enormously, however, the perception and very often the reality of old age has been one of limited incomes and reduced expenditure. 60 per cent of pensioners remain in the bottom 40 per cent of the income distribution.”20 Peace was writing before the concept of ‘fuel poverty’ became common in the UK.21 In 2009 it was estimated that 3.5 million households in the UK were in ‘Fuel Poverty’.22 Ten years later, with a much changed economic outlook, Harlow council are well aware of their particular circumstances, as the following extract from the town’s housing strategy details: 19 Day & Hitching, Op. Cit., p. 14. 20 Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland, ‘Housing an Ageing Society’, in, Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland Eds., Inclusive Housing in an Ageing Society: Innovative Approaches, (Bristol: Policy Press, 2001), pp. 1-26, this quote, p. 6. 21 Fuel Poverty means that a household spends more than 10% of their income to heat their home to a comfortable temperature. 22 Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Annual report on fuel poverty statistics 2009 (London: TSO, 2009)
“As the impact of the economic situation on residents of Harlow increases, this is likely to result in increased demand on services provided by, in particular: Older Persons Services - fuel poverty and general inflation impacts upon the health and welfare of older people disproportionately, as they spend a greater proportion of their income on food and fuel than other sections of society and are more limited in ability to increase income.”23 The need to maintain higher ambient indoor temperatures in their living spaces is a real financial burden for older people, and of late this will not have become any easier. As last year’s ONS reports confirmed, “total expenditure by final consumers in 2010…is up by 10.6 per cent on 2009, reflecting a steady increase in energy prices.”24 And whilst research by Wilkinson et al. has shown that households with lower incomes are not necessarily those with lower indoor temperatures, as Oreszczyn et al. detail, the rise in excess “winter and cold-related deaths…has focused attention on winter indoor temperatures and the ill-health effects of exposure to cold through inadequate home heating.”25 For all of the older people living in Harlow’s sheltered housing schemes, this issue is negated because of the use of inclusive rental rates that allow residents to take advantage of the district heating systems on site. Elderly households outside of sheltered housing schemes can be at risk however. In Harlow this can especially be the case where the quality of construction is an issue. 23 HDC, Harlow’s Housing Strategy 2008-2013, (Harlow: HDC, 2008), p. 28. 24 Office for National Statistics, Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2011, (London: TSO, 2011), p. 17. 25 Tadj Oreszczyn, Sung H. Hong, Ian Ridley and Paul Wilkinson (Warm Front Study Group), ‘Determinants of winter indoor temperatures in low income households in England’, in, Energy & Buildings, Vol. 38 (2006), pp. 245-52. This quote, p. 1.
K m² W/ .4 1’’ 1 1 U:
K m² W/ .6 ½’’ 1 13 U:
Fig 1.19 The Stow’s Solid Brickwork Construction 56
Fig 1.20 Existing section through Block B detailing solid brickwork and false ceiling removed in remodelling
Fig 1.21 Phase 1 construction proposal for shop unit conversion The wrapping of the external envelope will reduce the U-Value of the walls from 1.6w/mÂ˛ to under 0.3w/mÂ˛ 58
Green wedges, no parks The significance of Harlow’s green spaces in countering health problems has recently come to the fore in a number of studies of the town. As the recently published Local Development Framework states, through their green space strategy the council wish to: “Address health issues including a higher prevalence than the national average for all chronic diseases, significant levels of child mental health morbidity, obesity, diabetes and poor levels of healthy eating which are all worse than the national average.”26 Today the town faces a number of different problems related to health which this asset can help to mitigate. However, in the local development framework document, policies set out for the neighbourhood centres do not anticipate them to have any connection with local green spaces. For older people in particular this could prove to be prohibitive to their living in proximity to the services that are so valuable to them. Taken as a whole, within Harlow’s neighbourhoods, the types of green space of benefit to older resident’s well-being make up too small a proportion of the total green space. This is vital because, as recent research in the UK has suggested: “Having a neighbourhood open space that is attractive and easy to visit can benefit older people’s well-being.”27 Today, with continuing difficulties with the green wedges in terms of both accessibility and security, types of open spaces alongside more productive areas like allotments must be given priority within the structure of the neighbourhoods where possible. As a part of this strategy, the Mark Hall/Netteswell neighbourhood is a key area within the town. 26 HDC, Core Strategy Issues and Options – Consultation Document November 2010, (Harlow: HDC, 2010), p. 25. 27 Aspinall P A, Ward Thompson C, Alves S, Sugiyama T, Brice R, Vickers A, 2010, “Preference and relative importance for environmental attributes of neighborhood open space in older people” Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Vol. 37, No. 6, pp. 1022 – 1039, this quote, p. 1022. The effect of the built environment on the well-being of those occupying it became the subject of much research over the past twenty years or so. A good review of this is Cooper, Rachel, Boyko, Christopher & Codinhoto, Ricardo, Mental Capital & Wellbeing: Making the most of Ourselves in the 21st Century, (London: Government Office for Science, 2008) Cooper et al, Op. Cit., p. 13.
UK planning policy guidance document PPG17 outlines from its outset that outdoor space, including “open spaces, sports and recreational facilities have a vital role to play in promoting healthy living and preventing illness.”28 In terms of exposure and access to nature, a number of studies have found that “a positive relationship exists between the presence of greenery and residents’ health, wellbeing and social safety.”29 Within the first phase of the thesis masterplan, there are additional broader moves to increase the value of outdoor green space to those living in the Stow and the housing groups in the surrounding area. This is approached with particular attention to the needs of older people. On the one hand, this means making green space more accessible. On the other hand, it is the provision of an opportunity rich environment through different types of green space that is the goal. Reaching out over the boundaries of the site, the scheme also proposes the reinvigoration of two extant but much underutilised areas of grass at both north and south ends of the site to extend the home environment of older residents further. (fig.1.22) It isn’t just the haphazard nature of the connection to green space that constricts its use by those older people living in Harlow. Research currently being carried out on outdoor space in neighbourhoods suggests that its effect on well-being is as much a factor of the variety and the richness of opportunities it offers to residents as it is about its availability. 30 As we saw at the beginning of this chapter, right from the very beginning, access to green space has always been the foremost claim of the New Town’s Landscape Structure to promoting well-being.
for various reasons, Formal Parks and Gardens were not a major priority. For them, it was the strips of grass verges running along the main arterial roads in the town that were to be prioritised in planning the landscape of Harlow. In their writings that appeared in the architectural press, both were concerned to highlight the presence of nature in the town alongside its stance against sprawl: Ebenezer Howard’s agricultural ring is now a partial solution only. The agricultural land requires to be extended into the town itself in the form of tongues or wedges separating areas of building.31 Known as the ‘Green Wedges’ they have since become a great source of pride for the town’s residents and the Council are also committed to retaining them as they stand.32 Yet the range of ways in which these spaces have since been conceived - including “linear parks” in the official history - is telling of how their value has often been questioned.33 Today, for many older people in Harlow, the green wedges are part of the broad spectrum of green space types that offer little benefit to their well-being at the level of their everyday lives beyond functioning as the scenery they might drive through.34 Though the Local Authority in their recent work putting together their Local Development Framework have begun to recognise that green space in Harlow is important at the level of the town, their strategies and worked examples for green space at a more local level are less well developed. (fig.1.23)
31 Frederick Gibberd, ‘Landscaping the New Town’, in, Architectural Review, March 1948, 32 “The Green Wedges also serve as green access corridors, containing footpaths and cycle ways, linking the town centre, employment areas and residential 4.7.5 The pattern of any new development 4.7.9 The overall structure of proposed neighbourhoods as well as the town’s roads. They are widely regarded as a valued should evolve from the existing topography, development form should establish a and important amenity within the town. See; HDC, Core Strategy Issues and Options – natural assets and ecologic features. Gibberd and design which Crowe, both contrasts landscape For Harlow’s designers, Frederick Sylvia Consultation Document November 2010, (Harlow: HDC, 2010), p. 48. with building groups and welds them Figure 4.47: (Left) Existing spatial organisation ofJane neighbourhood strategic Whilst this brings the developments, such as urban 28 4.7.6 Large ODPM, PPG17¸ (London: ODPM, 2006), p. into 4. Morton, Harlow: and The its Story of a Newlandscape. Town, (Stevenage: Publications a coherent whole. This follows 33 extensions form a consistent and 29 Cooper should et al, Op. Cit., p. 13. landscape into the centre neighbourhood, it leads to40. a more dispersed urban form and residual open space. for Companies, 1980), p. Gibberd’s vision forof thethe town. In practice positive theWellbeing: town andEnabling & Motivating Flourishing in Outdoor 30 Anderson,with Urban Jamierelationship this means thatorganisation there should be aof clear 34 be strategic completely landscape. discounted itself of course. See; Cooper, This shouldn’t Recommended spatial neighbourhood and its will be required to take a landscape-led Neighbourhood Spaces, (Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Cambridge) definition between the built up areaRachel, Boyko, Christopher & Codinhoto, Ricardo, Mental Capital & Wellbeing: Making approach in order to provide proposals and the open space (by maintainingthe most of Ourselves in the 21st Century, (London: Government Office for Science, 2008), which evolve from the existing typology development and densitiesp.at13 “Individuals driving in areas dominated by the built environment are more 78of | The compact Guidance natural assets and ecological features the edge of the built up area) whilst the stressed than those driving through nature-dominated scenes such as forests or golf Harlow. built development should have a positive relationship with the open space (bycourses.” 4.7.7 Development adjacent to open countryside should provide a positive frontage and define a strong settlement edge. To avoid open spaces being delivered on a fragmented, site by site basis, a strategic approach to the designation of new strategic open space location must be adopted.
Figure 4.47: (Left) Existing spatial organisation of neighbourhood and its strategic landscape. Whilst this brings the landscape into the centre of the neighbourhood, it leads to a more dispersed urban form and residual open space. (Right) Recommended spatial organisation of neighbourhood and its strategic landscape. 78
fronting onto it and connecting into it).
Fig 1.23 Local Green Space Proposals. From left, LDF Green Space Diagrammes - Current and Proposed © HDC Right, Thesis Phase 1 Proposal recognising the low amenity value of the green wedges.
Fig 1.22 Green Space s at the siteâ€™s peripheries re-appropriated in phase 1 of the thesis masterplan
‘Green Wedge’ Green Corridor (cycle routes) Allotments Sports Grounds Formal Park/Garden Cemetery Accessible Countryside Inaccessible Countryside Hard Surface Civic Space Fig. 1.24 Harlow’s Green Space Infrastructure 62
Detail p. 66-9
PPG17 recognises ten types of outdoor, green or amenity space.35 Within Harlow’s neighbourhoods it is possible to find each of these, all along the broad spectrum from “parks and formal gardens” through “semi-natural urban green spaces including woodlands and wetlands” to allotments and outdoor sports facilities. Many of the neighbourhoods afford several different types. Mapping these spaces over the town as a whole reveals that Mark Hall/Netteswell is the neighbourhood with the most different types of outdoor space and the greatest area. (fig.1.24, previous page) The five other neighbourhoods, with the exception of Old Harlow which is third, all run following this in order of the date of their construction – a function of the pressure that was increasingly placed on the development corporation throughout the 1960s and 70s to increase housing quantities within the town’s boundaries. Mark Hall is particularly rich in areas of allotments with 12 different sites and the bike paths that cut through it in both north-south and east-west directions are also much more extensive and established as ‘green corridors’ than in other areas of the town. (fig.1.25) If it has eight of the ten different types of outdoor space, then by comparison, Church Langley, the newest neighbourhood in the town affords only 3, with only one small area provided for outdoor sports use.
35 DCLG, Planning Policy Guidance 17; Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation, (London: HMSO, 2010) p. 13. Available to download at: http://www.communities.gov. uk/documents/planningandbuilding/pdf/ppg17.pdf
Fig. 1.25 Allotments off Howards Way, Mark Hall 64
Fig. 1.26 Second Avenue Green Wedge
Fig. 1.27 Second Avenue Green Wedge
For older people throughout the town, accessibility is the first and foremost attribute impacting on their benefit from the value of outdoor green spaces. With the sheer amount of green space in Harlow, proximity is rarely an issue. Much of the green space adjacent to older residents within Harlow’s neighbourhoods however would be grouped under PPG17’s fifth category, ‘Amenity Green spaces’. The first critics of the New Towns showed that these green verges and areas of shrubbery offered little in the way of physical amenity to the young families resident of the town at the time.36 (fig.1.28) As a number of recent studies and reports such as the EVOLVE project by the Department of Health have suggested in the guidelines they have set out, 400m is the upper limit of the distance older members of the community can be reasonably 36 James Richards, ‘The Failure of the New Towns’ and Gordon Cullen, ‘Prairie Planning in the New Towns’, in, AR, July 1953, pp. 29-32
Fig. 1.28 ‘Prairie Planning’ - Gordon Cullen’s Damning Photos included Tany’s Dell in Mark Hall (bottom left). 70
expected to travel on foot to reach outdoor spaces and amenities.37 Beyond distance however, it is of course the nature of the journey that can sometimes discourage older people from getting outdoors. Today, green verges must be utilised to improve older people’s experience of moving around the town. (fig.1.29) Many routes between housing groups that links the neighbourhoods to their adjacent green spaces are tight, uninviting passageways. (fig.1.30) In this kind of environment, a lack of natural surveillance is the major issue affecting people’s sense and perception of security whilst passing through the space. And as studies such as that by Plater-Zyberk and Ball suggest, “these features are important for all age groups, but especially for children and seniors.”38
37 EVOLVE (Evaluation of Older People’s Living Environments) is a tool that has developed out of research carried out between the University of Sheffield, the Department of Health Housing Learning and Improvement Network (LIN) and the Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC). As a checklist of design recommendations to consider in housing for the elderly its main focus is on the interior, as we will see in Chapter 2. Yet it also sets out guidelines for 38 Plater-Zyberk and Ball, Op. Cit., p. 206.
Fig. 1.29 Mobility Scooters are used by many older people in the UK today to compensate for frailty and a reduction in their mobility. Though their use on roads is prohibited, many older people do take to roads as surfaces elsewhere are poor.
Reappropriating remnant green space at the heart of the neighbourhood A number of remnant green spaces border the thesis site. (fig.1.30) On the northern side of 1st Avenue, in the Great Plumtree housing group, the Stort Tower and its three storey curved block of flats frame an area of mature trees between them. This area measures almost half a hectare and contains some of the most established trees in the neighbourhood. At present, the area sits behind a 2 metre hedge and is underused throughout the majority of the year. (fig.1.31) The hedge is also mature but suffers from being over-cut and has been damaged in places where residents of the area have tried to make a shorter, more direct route through to the pedestrian crossing to get across First Avenue. By making wider, more permanent gaps in the hedge, the thesis scheme proposes opening this green space back up to the neighbourhood as a formal garden. (fig.1.32) Through the addition of areas of fixed furniture and flower beds for seasonal colour and heathers and grasses for texture in winter the area is made more amenable to local residents but particularly the kinds of recreation that older people typically practice. The space itself is overlooked by the adjacent curved block of flats, but increasing its use and giving ownership of the space to all those living in the area can ensure that a degree of natural surveillance is achieved to make it an attractive destination. In order to ensure that the new park is accessible to residents of the Stow however better connectivity from north to south across First Avenue and through the area is important.
Fig. 1.30 First Avenue is the street running from east to west over the roundabout
Fig. 1.31 Great Plumtree housing group border with 1st Avenue
Fig. 1.32 Phase 1 proposal for Great Pulmtree Park Entrance - First Avenue becomes a shared surface between the corner of the supermarket and the north east access road to the stow. Benches lining the street on its north side facing south aid with slowing traffic . 77
Reinstating the Neighbourhood Centre Thesis
Improving connectivity The second phase of the thesis masterplan brings with it the opportunity to develop connectivity through the neighbourhood centre. Because the Stow was pedestrianised after its first decade, at present, cycling from North to South through the centre is prohibited, leaving the connection to the National Cycle Route 1 that passes through the town from east to west severed at this point. (fig.2.1) The thesis scheme creates a second street running from the corner of Minchen Road directly along the back of the Stow Block A to a new hard surface civic space between Block B and the new development of a supermarket at the corner of First Avenue and Howards Way. (fig.2.2) This semi-hard surface area is extended across First Avenue to the entrance of the new
formal park as a shared surface to slow traffic and encourage pedestrian movement across this section of the road. This is supported by providing a route for cyclists through the park and over First Avenue at this node. By beginning to dissolve this boundary condition, residents within the new housing group may be encouraged to enter and utilise the park. Phase 2 of the thesis masterplan also includes an outline massing scheme for the additional housing behind Stow Block C. This block is a suggestion of how connectivity might be further improved by providing a link further east along First Avenue through from the existing square of the Stow to the Park. (fig.2.3) 79
Fig. 2.1 Mark Hall/Netteswellâ€™s Green Corridor Sub-Network At the scale of the Neighbourhood there are many gaps in the system inhibiting movement by non-motorised transport.
Fig. 2.2 â€˜Greenâ€™ corridor extension through the site. The use of a hard-surface finish that is bound with soil and permeable to water is proposed to improve stability to older people walking whilst allowing small vehicles to use the route.
ademic use only]
Fig. 2.3 Phase 2 proposal for Courtyard Housing along First Avenue - The block on the left hand side of the long elevation here immediately above closes the south edge of the formal park but also provides a route through to the Stow. The drawing above is a cranked north and east elevation of the proposed phase 2 thesis scheme detailing the level changes that the block negotiates. 85
Surveying Block F of the Stow revealed that the eastern half of its ground floor was entirely taken up by garages. (fig.2.4) On the one side, this leaves a blank faรงade to Minchen Road and on the other a disused unsurveilled corner. (fig.2.5) Phase 2 proposes the demolition of the spandrel walls between the brick piers within this section to open the north south route up. (fig.2.6)
Fig. 2.5 Block F garage corner
Fig. 2.6 Removal of spandrel walls to create new street.
Fig. 2.4 Stow Block F Block F was the last block to be constructed at the Stow and was so the only one to incorporate parking. The removal of the garage space in phase 2 is more than compensated for in parking created by works in the rest of the phase and in phase 3. 87
In terms of improving the health and wellbeing of residents through exercise, within the context of public transport and connectivity in the town, Harlow’s sub-network of routes has a major part to play. As it was first publicised in the late 1940s, the premise of improved wellbeing to be experienced in the New Towns was built largely on the ability to move around easily without the use of motorised transport.1 (fig.2.7) In Harlow this was to happen along these routes winding through the green spaces and passing underneath the arterial roads. As some basic statistics and videos of Harlow in the early 1950s show, “11 per cent of all journeys were made by bike” and many people in Harlow cycled to work.2 (fig.2.8) As this relationship has unwound however and the soft landscaping along these routes has grown the network of routes have also begun to lack natural surveillance, especially in the winter months. A recent study drawing on Census data on travel mode share in Harlow suggested that: “Car dependency in Harlow is high at 59% for the journey to work; public transport mode share is low (at 11%) reflecting a poorly developed network. Mode shares for walking and cycling are also low, despite good route network provision.”3 (fig.2.9) A different study pointed out that; “Car ownership in Harlow is slightly higher than the national average with 74.9% of households having access to a car compared to the average of 73.2% across England and Wales” but claimed that “mode Share for trips to, from and within Harlow by bus is fairly typical at around 8%.”4 Owning a car in Harlow is a necessity for many residents. For those older people in the town with mobility problems, just as throughout the rest of the UK, scooters and small electric buggies have also recently become an attractive option to make their shopping trips. Comparative studies of ageing g populations in the U.S. claim that; “Research shows that the average American male who reaches age sixty-five will outlive his ability to drive by six years, and the average American female by ten years.”5 Even if these figures do not compare exactly with the UK, their conclusions that “there is a fundamental need to enhance alternative modes of travel” are beginning to be heeded.6
1 Some short promotional films have recently been made available on Youtube by the BFI. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ophEYd4A-Q John Halas and Joy Batchelor, Charley in New Town, (London: COI, 1948) Bella Bathurst, The Bicycle Book, (London: Harper Collins, 2011), p. 37. As 2 Bathurst points out, this needs to be set in the context of today where even in 2010 after a doubling on the previous decade, they still accounted for only 3%. PACEC & Halcrow Group, Harlow Regeneration Strategy, (Harlow: Harlow 3 Council, 2005), p. 151 MVA Consultants, Harlow Transportation Study, (Harlow: Harlow Council, 4 2005), p. 7. 5 Ellen Dunham-Jones & June Williamson, ‘Retrofitting Suburbs’, in, Cisneros, Henry, Dyer-Chamberlain, Margaret and Hickie, Jane, Eds. Independent for Life; Homes and Neighbourhoods for an Aging America, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2012), pp. 179-96. This quote, p. 194. 6 Ellen Dunham-Jones & June Williamson, Op. Cit., p. 194.
Fig. 2.7 Charley in New Town demonstrates how central movement through green spaces was deemed to be to the improved wellbeing of New Town residents. This is still the case today.
Fig. 2.8 Archive footage of cyclists leaving work in Harlow ca. 1955.
Fig. 2.9 All of the arterial routes of the town include cycle paths at their sides
Building on new investment Through the reappropriation of space beyond the limits of the site the works of phase 1 mediate the conditions of boundaries not just around the Stow, but in wider perceptual terms throughout the neighbourhood and on into other parts of the town. In this, increasing connectivity to and improving the perception of the neighbourhood centre as a destination are achieved without the need for cost intensive intervention. By contrast, in phase 2, the creation of the shared surface area and civic space is the first move towards more permanent change of the built fabric of the centre itself. The supermarket chain Aldi received planning permission in 2009 for a 850m² supermarket on the site they own at the corner of First Avenue and Howards Way. (fig.2.10) 24 months have now passed and that planning permission has expired. Local planning limited the amount of housing that could be provided on the site to 14 units and this has since caused the stalemate that has resulted in the site remaining as a temporary car wash. Housing development by superstore chains such as Tesco is a relatively recent step in expanding the remit of building a supermarket.7 Of late such schemes have become increasingly common. As other financing streams for housing have begun to disintegrate in the current economic climate, supermarkets have presented a valuable source of investment to a number of sites that would otherwise have proved difficult to develop. 8
7 See David Rogers, ‘Tesco completes first homes in London’, in, Building Design, 28th March 2012 Available online: http://www.bdonline.co.uk/news/tescocompletes-first-homes-in-london/5034231.article 8 There is of course much public disagreement with Tesco’s values. See: Anna Minton, ‘This Town has been sold to Tesco’, in, The Guardian, 5th May, 2010. Available online: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/may/05/urbandevelopment-tesco-towns. In addition, their stores themselves are also evolving. David Rogers, ‘Scottish Firm wins Tesco store of Future Competition’, in, BD, 26th March, 2012. Available Online: http://www.bdonline.co.uk/news/scottish-firm-wins-tescostore-of-future-competition/5033951.article
Fig. 2.10 Corner site of Aldi supermarket proposal from the Stort tower The current proposals of Aldi received planning permission in 2009 but this has since expired. Permission was granted for an 850mÂ˛ supermarket on the site they own at the corner of First Avenue and Howards Way. Local planning limited the amount of housing that could be provided on the site to 14 units and this has since caused the stalemate that has resulted in the site remaining as a temporary car wash. 91
Fig. 2.11 Phase 2 courtyard block from Great Plumtree Park entrance 92
Phase 2 of the thesis scheme develops an alternative proposal for the supermarket and a higher density of housing on the corner of the site. (fig.2.11) The proposal better incorporates the needs of the supermarket as a commercial enterprise within the neighbourhood centre as a whole by bringing the supermarket to the eastern edge of its site and providing the main entrance off the new civic space. (fig.2.12) This allows it to benefit from increased pedestrian passing trade whilst retaining a presence on the street front of First Avenue and car park entrance. In the broader success of the neighbourhood centre however, it is the housing provided within the double courtyard block that is playing the more important role. (fig.2.13-15) At a general level, the provision of housing at the Stow at a density higher than that found in other areas within the Mark Hall/Netteswell neighbourhood can help by increasing the overall urban capacity of the neighbourhood without altering the character of some of the lower density areas on the North side of First Avenue. It is within this area - what now forms the Mark Hall North conservation area - that the continued provision of larger, high end market housing so important for the image of the neighbourhood can continue.
Fig. 2.12 Phase 2 Plan, supermarket level, -04.00
Fig. 2.13 Phase 2 Plan, podium level, 00.00
Fig. 2.14 Phase 2 Plan, first floor level, +03.00
Fig. 2.15 Phase 2 Plan, second floor level, +05.80
Urban capacity in the neighbourhood Measured against studies of urban capacity compiled by the Urban Task Force, the Mark Hall/Netteswell neighbourhood would not be judged to have the critical mass to make public transport successful.14 (fig.2.16) At an average of 40.2 dwellings per hectare (dw/h) it is only marginally less than the figure of 45dw/h claimed as the minimum basis at which “a bus service begins to be viable”.15 This is the figure currently being applied to current housing growth in new development at the perimeter of the town like New Hall, but in the New Town neighbourhoods things are slightly more complex. It was on grounds of density that the first critics of the New Towns proclaimed their ‘failure’16 and ever since the reality of their make up of different housing groups with different characteristics has been obscured. Density itself does not reveal everything about the conditions and qualities to be found within a given settlement, however a number of recent commentaries are entirely misleading on its effects. Either they have highlighted the figures of some of the largest detached houses in are as low as 4dw/h17 or have suggested “very low densities” as being a result of a “lack of variety of housing forms”.18 Returning to the overview of Mark Hall/Netteswell details the more complex reality of this. (fig.2.17) As Alexander has said, “lowdensity arrangements” in the New Towns “were made possible by the cheap land values” of the agricultural land on which many were built and were desirable “as a response to the high density of the urban slums”.19 Despite this low density and its effect on Mark Hall/Netteswell’s urban capacity, recent infrastructural 14 Rogers, Richard, Ed. Towards an Urban Renaissance, (London: DETR, 1999) 15 Rogers, Op. Cit., p. 61. 16 Richards, J. M. ‘Failure of the New Towns’, in, Architectural Review, Vol. 114, No. 679, July 1953, pp. 29-32. 17 Alexander, Op. Cit., p. 74. 18 Jim Bennett, From New Towns to Growth Areas: Learning from the past, (London: IPPR, 2005), p. 19. 19 Alexander, Op. Cit., p. 74.
works have widened the major route ‘First Avenue’ passing east to West through the area to create a ‘multi-modal corridor’. After Old Harlow, Mark Hall/Netteswell is the lowest density neighbourhood. It consists of roughly 23 different housing groups, each of which was designed to a different density. Some groups are three times as dense as others. Such a retrofitting strategy is unlikely to have much effect on public transport under present conditions of supply and demand. Of course, in further reinforcing the position of the neighbourhood centre as a provider of services and employment for older people, the second phase of the thesis scheme will also begin to have a wider impact on how local residents move within the neighbourhood. As studies of transport provision have shown, the neighbourhood centres play a wider role in compensating for the effects of car dependency in Harlow and the other Mark 1 New Towns. Nevertheless, as that research also highlights, the attachment of many residents of a town like Harlow to their cars is not a relationship that can be speedily changed. And any idea of constraining vehicle use is made all the more complicated by the understanding of the relationship between the car and the wellbeing of older people as recent research in gerontology highlights: “It seems that especially for (future) older people ageing in place in suburban and rural areas, the need to reduce car use and the importance of being able to drive may clash with each other, which may adversely affect their personal wellbeing.”20 20 Schwanen, Tim & Ziegler, Friederike, ‘Wellbeing, independence and mobility: an introduction’, in, Ageing & Society, Vol. 31, (2011), pp. 719–733. This quote, p. 729.
Fig. 2.16 Models of urban capacity in neighbourhoods ÂŠ DETR Most of Harlow is less dense than the numbers suggested here. The different housing groups vary considerably in terms of density however. Phase 2 of the thesis masterplan uses this to its advantage.
Fig. 2.17 The variety of densities within the Mark Hall/Netteswell neighbourhood. At present, the Stow is not a clear centre because environments in its immediate vicinity are more dense.
In organising phase 2, preparation work was done for the development of housing typologies that feature in phase three of the masterplan. Tests made of a number of different options for massing on the site incorporated the standards for car-parking of 1.5 cars per dwelling suggested within the local development framework.9 (figs.2.18-26) Because of the commercial development need of the supermarket, housing in the second phase adopted a higher density model than that used for housing in phase 3. The courtyard typology proposed accommodates older households throughout. These are integrated with keyworker housing in groups of three to five flats organised around external porches in the corners of the courtyards with views both to the interior and outside the block. (fig.2.27) The courtyard itself is split into two by the two storey section bridging between the central two cores of the block. This is arranged in section to reinforce the corner of the site and step down from five storeys to two to allow the ingress of sunlight from the south. In addition to the supermarket in the lower ground floor, the phase two housing also experiments with the incorporation of public elements on the upper ground floor within the east edge of the block. As discussion of building types by Mcgrail et al. has highlighted, with the right technological installations, high-rise housing typologies that would not usually be considered as suitable for older households can be and indeed are considered as ‘ideal for pensioners’.10 In many parts of the UK where high-rise living is prevalent, there are many older people living in these schemes.11 And as recent examples in the Netherlands have shown, high-rise living and old-age can be compatible.12 Within parts of these schemes however restrictive tenancy policies are operated that ensure that new tenants and home owners are all over the age of 55. Without strict tenancy selection that is difficult to effect in a UK context, high-rise living can prove counter-productive in terms of the mixing of age-groups and different forms of tenancy. More importantly however, there is a wealth of research which suggests the negative impacts of high-rise living on wellbeing. As Boyko et al have commented: “Generally, individuals living in high-rise buildings suffer significantly higher levels of mental health problems than those in low-rise developments.”13 For those residents who may no longer be in full-time employment and spending more time at home, clearly this could result in effects on their well-being.
Orthodox Harlow Garden to Garden & Garden Buffer 76 Dwellings 4 Sixty+ Dwellings (5%) 41.3 dwellings/hectare 1 Parking Space/dwelling (Seperate)
East-West Terrace 118 Dwellings >118 Sixty+ Dwellings 64.1 dwellings/hectare 0.76 Parking Space/dwelling
9 HDC, Harlow Local Plan, (Harlow: HDC, 2006), p. 175. 10 Mcgrail, Brian; Percival, John and Foster, Kate, ‘Integrated Segregation? Issues from a range of housing/care environments’, in, Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland Eds., Inclusive Housing in an Ageing Society: Innovative Approaches, (Bristol: Policy Press, 2001), pp. 147-168. This quote, p. 151. 11 Mcgrail et al. Op. Cit., p. 148. 12 See Schittich et al. Op. Cit., p. 74-5 for the scheme by Arons en Gelauff architecten in Rotterdam. And; Homes & Communities Agency & The Department of Health, Op. Cit., p. 22 for the De Rokade scheme in Groningen. 13 Boyko et al. Op. Cit. p. 9.
North South Terrace Figs. 2.18-26 Dwelling massing and open space options tested on the site 106
105 Dwellings >105 Sixty+ Dwellings 57.0 dwellings/hectare 0.85 Parking Space/dwelling
Orthodox 8 Storey 0.2 ha Point Block
Orthodox Harlow New Hall â€˜Mews Parkingâ€™
210 Dwellings 14 Sixty+ Dwellings (5%) 114.1 dwellings/hectare 1 Parking Space/dwelling (Seperate)
88 Dwellings >4 Sixty+ Dwellings (51%) 47.8 dwellings/hectare 1.5 Parking Space/dwelling
Back to Back North-South Terrace
193 Dwellings 0 Sixty+ Dwellings 105.4 dwellings/hectare 1 Parking Space/dwelling
100 Dwellings >100 Sixty+ Dwellings 54.3. dwellings/hectare 1 Parking Space/dwelling
Terraced Steps 96 Dwellings >96 Sixty+ Dwellings 52.2 dwellings/hectare 1 Parking Space/dwelling
12m Courtyards 108 Dwellings >108 Sixty+ Dwellings 58.7 dwellings/hectare 1 Parking Space/dwelling
Fig. 2.27 Section through courtyard block looking east 108
Fig. 2.28 Approaching the phase 2 courtyard block from Great Plumtree Park with the new toilet block and bus shelter on the left.
The provision of car-parking for the supermarket in the basement of the courtyard block is unavoidable in the context of public transport provision in Harlow today. In conjunction with the third phase of the thesis masterplan however, over time, some of this space given over to car parking for the supermarket could be allocated for dwellings developed nearby sometime in the future. In the meantime, as an alternative route to mediating these circumstances, the final proposal within phase 2 is to enhance public transport provision through the creation of a new bus shelter and toilet block in the centre of the new civic space adjacent to the park. (fig.2.28) As recent research by social gerontologist Sheila Peace on ‘intergenerational use of public spaces’ highlights, you’ve only got to talk to elderly people once about what they need in public squares, and public toilets are essential.21 Commentators on urban transport have noted the importance of the services provided by local centres within neighbourhoods in reducing carbon emissions. Hugh Barton, Professor of Planning, Health and Sustainability at the University of the West of England has surveyed a number of research studies. Quoting studies including “ECOTEC and Winter & Farthing” he states that: “Local use does reduce trip length, and does reduce the total amount of motorized travel. However, in suburban locations with high car ownership this does not necessarily result in a significant reduction in car trips, though the trips will on average be shorter. Any action to reduce car reliance will therefore need to combine the promotion of local facilities…with constraints on motor traffic.”22 21 Peace, Sheila, Intergenerational use of Public Places, Lecture, Available online at: http://www.urbannous.com/Professor-Sheila-Peace.htm 22 Hugh Barton, ed., Sustainable Communities: the potential for eco-neighbourhoods, (London: Earthscan, 2000), p. 62-64.
Fig. 2.29 Mapping of 400m radius from First Avenue Despite the fact that much investment has already taken place to make First Avenue a more efficient bus route, the major problem in the neighbourhood is that buses do not stop along the whole length of second avenue to the south.
It is not simply a slight under concentration of people that makes bus services inefficient to run in Harlow however. Throughout the design of the town, Street patterns were an aspect of the town’s approach to controlling vehicles. In this a hierarchy of road widths was employed graduating down to capillary culde-sacs that were not intended to perform a connective role. Living at the end of one of these cul-de-sacs, an elderly resident often has to walk a significant distance in order to reach public transport. As mapping of transport routes through the Mark Hall/Netteswell neighbourhood demonstrates, a large proportion of dwellings lie beyond the maximum recommendation of a 400m walk assumed reasonable for older people. Along the south edge of the neighbourhood, there are no bus request stops along the entirety of Second Avenue. As a result of this, they rely on services that use the secondary ‘feeder’ routes running through the neighbourhoods which because of the indirect road structure are infrequent and slow moving services. This situation can only serve to increase car usage and carbon emissions from fuel exhaust.
Fig. 2.30 Mapping of walking distances to bus services in the Mark Hall/Netteswell neighbourhood
116Moira Jones at home in Bishopsfield
Neighbourhood Place to Live
Beyond ‘independence’ “Did you ring for me?” asks a man as he peers his head around the architrave of his front door. “No, not me” I reply, “I’m here for Moira”, and as he shuts his door with a frown the glossy brown one I’m standing in front of duly opens. “Ah, Phillip, you made it. I was wondering where you were.” I’ve known Moira for about five years now and I’ve still not once seen her with a hair out of place. She’s now 83, I 28, yet despite the years between us, the friendship we struck up has stuck. Moira lives in a well-known area of housing in the Great Parndon neighbourhood of Harlow, built in the 1960s. At the time it was seen as “a test bed for
fundamental research” on the design of housing. 1 Here on a nice spring morning, with the living spaces all arranged around her sheltered patio the living room is full of light and Moira begins to tell me about how nice it was on an evening in the previous week when she had a number of artists and architects to visit as an event to celebrate an exhibition of some photographs of the local area taken by an Austrian photographer. Even with the photos still littered all over the sofa at the other side of the room at first I’m surprised when she tells me that the exhibition actually took place in her living room. Though as she begins to explain the problems 1 p. 38.
Anon. ‘High Density, Low Rise’, in, AR, July 1966, pp. 38-50. This quote, 117
with access to the local common room which had caused this and how she challenged the management companies in charge, I realise that I’ve underestimated her again. Moira is certainly not typical of the older people I’ve met in Harlow throughout my research. In the ways in which she uses her home however, though the photography exhibition is an extreme example, her practice of hosting is not uncommon. A major research project undertaken over the last decade by academics in the field of gerontology as part of a network throughout Europe looking at well-being in old age confirms the importance of these kinds of practices: “The home was a key site for social and community participation in which a variety of forms of passive, active and proactive participation encouraged older people to feel a valued part of their social networks, local community and wider society.”2 Realising in such terms the profound effect that practices within the private realm have on an older individual’s well-being was a key step in getting thinking about their independence and their housing beyond the polarisation of ‘communal/institutional’ and ‘individual’ that so much writing has, and can still tend to exhibit.3 As Sheila Peace wrote in 2001, “Interdependence and companionship may play an equal part with independence in helping older people to maintain an integrated lifestyle…without social relationships it is possible for people to become so isolated that independence alone cannot sustain well-being.4 Despite all this research over the last decade however, in the UK today the situation can often still resemble Peace’s description then, that: “Older people in particular have often seen a stark choice between living alone in social isolation and living with a group of other people not of their own choosing.”5 2 Sixsmith, J, Sixsmith, A, Green, S, Kennedy, V, Griffiths, J, Ball, M & Pimor, A. Enabling Autonomy, Participation, and Well-Being in Old Age: The Home Environment as a Determinant for Healthy Ageing- In-depth Study: National Report, UK, (EU Commission: 2004) p. 5. 3 Within Cisneros et al. Independent for Life, Op. Cit. for instance, Chapter 10, ‘Interior Design for Ageing in Place’ talks of ‘premature institutionalization’ in this way. 4 Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland, ‘Inclusive Housing’, in, Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland Eds., Inclusive Housing in an Ageing Society: Innovative Approaches, (Bristol: Policy Press, 2001), pp. 235-260. This quote, p. 246. 5 Peace and Holland, ‘Inclusive Housing’, Op. Cit., p. 246.
Moira’s rendition of her living room and garden
In Harlow, this is still the situation facing many older people. As Sheila Peace described in 2001, the development of the Lifetime Homes initiative over the last decade represented “another milestone on the road to accessibility in new build housing.”6 The single family homes designed in the early 1950s throughout Mark Hall however have interiors typical of the type that initiated support for lifetime homes back in the late 1980s.7 As analysis of their layouts suggests, though some of the larger homes do provide WCs on the ground floor, otherwise they are full of highly structured interior space and the circulation typical of homes of the time. There are a number of problems with cill heights in section. (Fig 3.1 & 3.2) Recent housing added within the neighbourhood has not improved this situation either. Lying in close proximity to both of the town’s mainline train stations as well as the town centre and the two employment areas, Mark Hall/Netteswell has recently been subject to small amounts of housing growth as the market for affordable flats for singles and keyworkers looking to use the town as a transport hub has grown. This four and five storey housing at the very oddly placed Bromley Close on the south edge of the Templefields industrial estate is evidence of the first shifts towards the breaking down of the strict use zoning. Over and above the awkward location however, the absence of lifts makes only a small portion of the housing accessible. In this situation, there is little alternative to those growing older in the town to the model of sheltered housing we saw in chapter 1. 6 Peace and Holland, ‘Inclusive Housing’, Op. Cit., p. 241. On this see; Mark Kelly, ‘Lifetime Homes’, in, Sheila M. Peace & Caroline 7 Holland Eds., Inclusive Housing in an Ageing Society: Innovative Approaches, (Bristol: Policy Press, 2001), pp. 55-76.
Fig. 3.1 Difficulties encountered in modifying Dwellings in Mark Hall/Netteswell for older people 119
Hoist 0,7m² 0,8m² 0,8m² 0,95
1m² 1m² Hoist
Fig. 3.2 Difficulties encountered in modifying Dwellings in Mark Hall/Netteswell for older people 120
The dawn of a new era? The third phase of the thesis masterplan is grounded in the future development of the home environment. Building on the scenario created in the first two phases, it examines the potential of a future proposal to redevelop the existing service bay areas of the Stow as an area of medium-density, single family and collective housing. As such it is a more speculative endeavour built around forecasts for future social and demographic change. Current growth patterns in the UK suggest that areas within the south east of England will continue to grow, becoming increasingly diverse and increasingly old in the medium term. As such, this part of the thesis masterplan asks: to what extent can the type of growth currently happening at the fringes of Harlow be incorporated within the neighbourhood structure of the New Town? (Fig 3.3) How will this be realised? And what models of housing will this involve? In doing so, the third phase begins with the assumption that within the area of such a large site (1.6 ha.) there is the need to achieve the mixing of tenures that has become common in UK housing over the past 15 years or so, but which has not been planned in Harlow. As such, the housing provided in phase 3 of the thesis masterplan is to consist of both dwellings for sale and for social rent. In addition, taking its lead from recent research into the changing preferences of successive generations of older people, this tenure mixing was considered in unison with the mixing of different modes and levels of care for older people therein. (Fig 3.4)
Fig. 3.3 Dwelling Quantities brought into the New Town neighbourhoods?
general needs housing
specialised /dementia care
very sheltered/ assisted living
general needs housing
specialised /dementia care
very sheltered/ assisted living
Fig. 3.4 Segmentation of the Non-Standard Housing Sector as perceived by HAPPI - 2009 (top) Segments sought for potential within the integrated housing in phase 3 of the thesis masterplan (bottom) Diagrams adapted from ÂŠ DCLG, HAPPI - Final Report, (London: DCLG, 2009), p. 10. 122
One aspect of housing in Harlow that is relatively straightforward While the number of those in council owned socially rented to speculate on is ownership. , are aspects of ownership that accommodation might be expected to fall in line with national will be likely to continue. In 1971, “no more than 11% of averages over the long term11, as a 2008 housing strategy 8 Harlow residents owned their homes.” Today, socially rented report outlined, in the medium term there will continue to accommodation managed by the town council still houses almost be a demand for social housing in Harlow. 12 Today, Harlow a third of all households in the town.9 (Fig 3.5) In comparison with Council sees itself as standing at ‘the dawn of a new era’.13 In 10 towns in the surrounding region this is remarkably high. In line with the changes recently made to the financing of housing authorities through the Localism Act, the town’s housing a changed world with a variety of shared ownership and other tenure options available, much of the town’s resources in housing department has published a Business Plan setting out its management of housing for the next thirty years. (Fig 3.6) Free over recent years have been spent trying to redress this balance. Under this set of circumstances, the development of single family of the red tape of previous governments, the intention is to dwellings for the market in Church Langley and now in New Hall make its housing stock pay for itself through steady increases presents only one option, that for many people in the town, and in rental levels in line with private sector rental markets. 14 especially those in later life, is beyond their means. As we saw in From there, it sees itself beginning again to take on the roll as a the statistics of the indices for deprivation, incomes within the provider of finance for building after 2020. Though it is a vague New Town neighbourhoods tend to be much lower than those and uncertain promise, housing funded at least in part by the found in these newer areas outside and this is strongly reflected council could well become a reality in Harlow in the future. in the relative youth of the population to be found there. Under these circumstances, many of the town’s residents have become 11 The national figure in 2008 was 11.9%. locked in the circle of social renting. 12 HDC, Harlow Housing Strategy, 2008-13, (Harlow: HDC, 2008) ndon Commuter Belt (West) SHMA SHMA report Executive Summary 13 8 Morton, Op. Cit., p. 186. 3. Opinion Research Services, Strategic Housing Market Assessment Report, 9 14 Harlow and some of the(Harlow: rural areas to the South. Executive Summary, HDC, 2008), p. 5. Relatively high levels of deprivation in rural DCLG, Dwelling Stocknumbers Estimates,of2011, (London: DCLG, p. 4. low incomes areas 10 are not unusual due to large retired households on2011), relatively
HDC, Housing Services Business Plan 2011-2041, (Harlow: HDC, 2011), p. HDC, Housing Services... Op. Cit., p. 25.
some of whom live in dwellings with higher heating costs. That said, when compared to other areas in England and Wales, deprivation in LCB (East) is low with most areas in the lowest quartile for deprivation relative to the rest of the country. Regarding dwelling type, across the sub-region about a quarter is detached housing with semidetached 28%, terraced 25% and flats around 18% of the stock. There are considerable variations by Local Authority. Harlow has the highest proportion of terraced dwellings (50% of its stock) and flats (22%). It has the lowest proportion of detached dwellings (10%). Uttlesford has the highest proportion of detached dwellings (42% of its stock). Dwelling type varies greatly by tenure with owner-occupied housing having near equal proportions of terraced, semi detached and detached housing but relatively few flats (just under 10% of the stock). In contrast social rent and private rent has a much higher proportion of flats at just over 40% of the stock of each tenure.
ag to show social housing level!!! The dominant tenure in LCB (East) is owner occupation (84%) of the total stock. Over 35% of the housing stock in Brentwood is owned outright (i.e. not subject to a mortgage) with slightly lower proportions in other Local Authority areas. Harlow has the lowest proportion at around 18%. (Figure 3). Figure 3 Housing tenure by District 2001 for the LCB (East)/M11 Sub-region (Source: Census 2001).
90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
% Owned % Social rent % Private rent
Harlow Council Housing Services Business Plan 2011 – 2041
The overall proportion of social rented housing in LCB (East) is slightly higher than the English Fig. 3.5 Fig. 3.6 Housing tenure bythan district the London Commuter Belt region. (Opinionthere Research Strategic between average but lower thein East of England average although areServices, key differences HDC, Harlow Housing Strategy, 2008-13, (Harlow: Housing Market Assessment Report, Executive Summary, (Harlow: HDC, 2008) the authorities. Harlow has the highest proportion of social housing in the eastern region (at 33.1% of all dwellings), while 15.4% of the dwelling stock of Epping Forest is social housing. Brentwood has the lowest proportion of social housing at around 11.9%.
The intractability of Harlow’s problems with a high proportion of people within social and sheltered housing is as much a function of the town’s typologies of housing as it is of its resident’s economic circumstances. In Harlow today, the types of housing that have emerged with the mixture of tenures and that have begun to become common elsewhere in the UK over the last 15 years simply do not exist. The homogeneity of dwelling types in certain areas within certain housing groups could well have been a contributing factor to the relative failure of social home buy schemes recently piloted in the town.15 A more straightforward impact however stems from the simple proportions of dwelling types available. Returning to the figures of different housing types from chapter 1, the proportion of terraced/detached dwellings and flats leaves around 18% of the total stock made up by semi-detached properties. This level is much lower than the surrounding areas (28%). 16 Traditionally, semi-detached dwellings in extra-urban areas have provided a stepping stone of slightly less expensive housing for those families wanting a ground floor with garden but not able to afford a detached home. Their scarceness in areas of Harlow pushes up their prices beyond the means of those in the New Town neighbourhoods. 15 A number of schemes similar to right-to-buy including the ‘social home buy scheme’ have been piloted in Harlow of late, with little success. See HDC, Harlow Housing Strategy, 2008-13, (Harlow: HDC, 2008), p. 36. 16 Opinion Research Services, Op. Cit., p. 5.
Fig. 3.7 (Following 7 pages) Predominant Typologes of housing in Harlow; bugalow, terrace, detached single family, podium block, slab block, stacked maisonettes/townhouse.
Putting ‘International Style’ back in the New Town Of all the typologies present in the New Town neighbourhoods, it is the last one catalogued here that has carried the most potential for mixing tenancies and households of different ages. (Fig 3.8) Known at the time by a variety of terms including ‘double-stack maisonettes’ and ‘townhouses’ they were used at various points within the early stages of New Town development but later fell out of favour as patio housing and system built flats started to be come and increasingly effective option to rising demand for housing. 17 As a type, as the examples here demonstrate, the circulation system allows each dwelling to retain its own front door as well as its own frontage. And unlike the other typologies, this takes place alongside more both communal and private spaces and routes, both inside and out. Over the last two decades the concept of ‘Town House’ has seen something of a revival throughout its homeland of Western Europe. As Günter Pfeiffer relates in his work cataloguing recent examples: “The architecture of this kind of housing can offer a platform for such open forms of communal interaction. Open spaces and circulation structures linked to semi-public and public spaces have the potential to become spaces for such interaction. The communal aspect could become a catalyst for new forms of housing, as the communal cohabitation of several generations necessitates multi-functional, flexible structures that can be expanded or reduced as required without the need for building works.”18 17 18 p. 10.
For further examples in Harlow see Morton, Op. Cit., p. 110, and 185. Günter Pfeiffer, Town Houses: A Housing Typology, (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2008),
Fig. 3.8 Town House as a housing typology in Harlow
Research by the Department of Health’s Panel for Innovation on Housing our Ageing Population (HAPPI) in 2009 reviewed typologies of housing and care available for older people in the UK. In compiling their report, the Panel made visits to many housing schemes across Europe. (Fig 3.9) Of the final 24 that made it into the document as exemplary case studies, only 11 were inside the UK. Of the other 13, 2 were in Denmark, 3 were in Sweden, 3 in the Netherlands, 2 were in Stuttgart and 5 were in Switzerland.19 The concept of Integriertes Wohnen or Integrated Housing is a central European development that has arisen over the last two decades in response to the deeper demographic change that has been taking place in Germany.20 In true fashion it has already been “defined and its architectural typology demonstrated.”21 However, as a type integrated housing is more defined by its diversity than by its rigidity. The projects listed in Christian Schittich’s recent volume ‘Housing for People of all ages’
tackle a range of different urban and suburban conditions, from speculative, 5-6 storey city infill blocks to care homes in 2-3 storey edge-of-town complexes and on to houses built for clients on their own plots. (Fig 3.10) What links the best of them together is the overarching determination to avoid designing spaces exclusively around older people. As Peter Ebner, professor at the Technical University of Munich describes:
19 Homes & Communities Agency & The Department of Health, Op. Cit., p. 58. 20 For more detail on European Ageing Statistics see; Peace, Sheila, DittmannKohli, Freya, Westerhof, Gerben J., & Bond, John, ‘The Ageing World’, in, in, Bond, John; Peace, Sheila; Dittmann-Kohli, Freya & Westerhof, Gerben J., Eds, Ageing in Society: European Perspectives on Gerontology, 3rd Edition, (London & Los Angeles: Sage, 2007), pp. 1-14. 21 Schittich, Christian Ed., Housing for People of All Ages, (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2007)
22 Ebner, Peter, ‘Integrated Living’, in, Schittich, Christian Ed., Housing for People of All Ages, (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2007), pp. 10-23. This quote, p. 12.
“The idea of ‘integrated living’ is to encourage different groups of residents who can mutually support each other to live together. The long-acknowledged desire to live in a residential environment that allows in equal measure both independence without isolation, and informal community with safety and security, is shared by the elderly and disabled with other groups of residents, for instance single parents, or parents of large families.”22
1 2 3 4 5
7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Brunswick Centre, Bloomsbury, london Holly Street, Hackney, london Darwin Court, southwark, london Patching Lodge, Brighton, sussex Oranjehof/de Lombarde, lombardijen, rotterdam, netherlands De Plussenburgh, iJselmonde, rotterdam, netherlands De Rokade/Maartenshof, groningen, netherlands Colliers Gardens, Bristol, Avon Painswick Retirement Village, near stroud, gloucestershire Spire View, Pickering, Yorkshire Hartrigg Oaks, new earswick, York Allerton Bywater, Wakefield, Yorkshire Gradmann Haus, stuttgart, germany Sankt Antonius, stuttgart, germany Irchel, Zurich, switzerland Gibeleich, Zurich, switzerland Konradhof, Winterthur, switzerland Flurgarten, st gallen, switzerland Wohnfabrik Solinsieme, st gallen, switzerland Neptuna, Bo01, Malmö, sweden Postiljonen, vellinge, skänor, sweden Opus, lljunghusen, skänor, sweden Flintholm Care Home, Copenhagen, Denmark Herfra til Evigheden, roskilde, Denmark
HAPPI Housing our Ageing PoPulAtion: PAnel for innovAtion
Fig. 3.9 Homes & Communities Agency & The Department of Health, Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation, (London: Homes & Communities Agency, 2009) The selection of case studies in the report includes many different types of care and typologeis of housing. Only two schemes resemble town houses.
Fig. 3.10 Schittich, Christian Ed., Housing for People of All Ages, (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2007) The integrated housing schemes in central europe adapted from the common courtyard typologies of inner cities are similar to phase 2 of the thesis scheme. 133
Similar diagram fo er areas!!!! Typical p
E s s e x
The town house - a typology for the New Town Phase 3 of the thesis masterplan proposes re-introducing the town house typology of housing to Harlow. Today, for any form of housing construction, right along the scale from collective to single family housing, the very modern idea of a ‘typology’ itself has begun to lack coherency. As one commentator writing on housing throughout Europe has said; “today the distinctions are no longer quite as cut-and-dried as they used to be.”23 With the prevalence of various forms of hybrids, this could indeed be considered something of an understatement. Even from a Germanic perspective, there is the recognition that “hybrids are actually the rule as opposed to the exception”.24 Working from an understanding of Harlow’s existing housing groups and their typologies, the housing solution proposed in phase 3 of the thesis masterplan suggests that one particularly effective way of achieving several layers of mixing within a scheme is to adopt a less rigid and prescriptive typology than those already available in the town. In this way, iterations of this part of the masterplan developed several hybrids of different typologies. The final iteration takes the form of a modern townhouse, but still retains aspects of semi-detached and row or terraced typologies. (Fig 3.11 &3.12)
23 Bart Lootsma, ‘The Umpteenth Typology: The Typology of the And, or the end of typology?’ in, Arc en Réve ed. New Forms of Collective Housing in Europe, (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2008), p. 251. 24 Weidinger, Hans, ‘Low Rise Housing Typologies’, in, Detail, No. 3, 2010, pp. 146-53. This quote, p. 146.
Fig. 3.11 Thesis Phase 3 town house The construction of the town houses is derived from the same simple prefabricated timber construction which was used in phase 1 of the thesis masterplan to remodel parts of the Stow. 137
Fig. 3.12 Thesis Phase 3 town house row The town houses are oriented in rows running east to west following the decisions made in phase 2 of the thesis masterplan. 139
Within the townhouses there are nine different types of unit. Five of these cater to those in later life. (Fig 3.13) Each of these five dwellings could be used by a household with some form of care requirement. These are located throughout the row, within all four storeys. Three of those five however, are specifically suited to current care requirements. Extra-care sheltered housing requires that a warden or nurse be able to care for a sufficiently large group of residents simultaneously. The use of the town house as a type opens up the potential of using the roofscape as a separate entity for this category of care environment. These ‘lofts’ in the fourth storey have the required elements including; a large main bedroom (>18m²) to allow for technical installations; the possibility for observation of this bedroom from the access deck that links them; a spare bedroom that could accommodate a part-time carer; a large bathroom adjacent to the bedroom with a removable partition that can enable the rooms to be joined and wider circulation areas that can be fitted with rails. (Fig 3.14) Yet in allowing for this provision, the lofts do not exclude more general models of housing for older people with much lower levels of care, and indeed, would promote the mixing of several together. For while the layouts fulfil requirements, they also attend to the wider, growing aspirations of older individuals within their homes. As architects Feddersen & Lüdtke have commented: “The kitchen, for instance, previously a separate room of its own, is being opened up and shifting to the centre of a communally used living and eating area…the bathroom too, is undergoing a transformation; from the utilitarian shower stall or tub to a location of recovery replete with a wellness function.”25 25 Feddersen, Eckhard & Lüdtke, Insa, ‘Kitchen & Bathroom as living space’, in, Schittich, Christian Ed., Housing for People of All Ages, (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2007), pp. 158-65. This quote, p. 160.
Fig. 3.13 Town house dwellings catering to older households.
mic use only]
Fig. 3.14 Loft A Living Space Where care is mixed, it can often be useful to allow certain dwellings to overlook other units that may require a higher level of care. As a potential care environment, the fourth storey lofts allow for the mixing of care levels in the provision of different types of untis with different aspect. In the lofts at the ends of the rows, a view back down the shared terrace provides the resident with an overview of their neighbours.
In this same way, for a more mobile, younger older person, a spare bedroom fulfils the social need of hosting and having visitors. Together, these ideas are a part of the broader sensibility of the loft, which, as Pfeiffer reiterates: “Instead of defining spaces according to different activities such as sleeping, cooking, eating or living, the loft embraces them all at once.”26 None of the units are entirely prescriptive about the age or the tenancy of their household however. The lofts could also be packaged together with the family dwellings below them and marketed as annexes for older family members or lodgers as a way of subsidising family costs. (Fig 3.15 & 3.16) At only four stories with two dwellings per storey, it is often difficult to make lift provision financially viable.27 This is circumvented by providing a single lift core between two houses that effectively serves four. Of the 29 dwellings in a row, 25 (85%) have step free access. (Fig 3.17) Extra-Care Sheltered Housing has arisen to fill the gap between the care home and sheltered housing that arose out of uneven development of both of these types of environment in the 1980s and 1990s. As Sheila Peace explains: “A department of the Environment study carried out in 1993 indicated that, overall, there was by then a probable over-provision of sheltered housing, but an under-provision of very sheltered housing or extra-care housing which provided a higher level of personal support.”28 26 Günter Pfeiffer, Town Houses: A Housing Typology, (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2008), p. 12. 27 Levitt, 2010, Op. Cit., p. 78. 28 Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland, ‘Housing an Ageing Society’, in, Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland Eds., Inclusive Housing in an Ageing Society: Innovative Approaches, (Bristol: Policy Press, 2001), pp. 1-26. This quote, p. 15.
Fig. 3.15 [Academic use only] Town House Tenancy - Scenario 1 - Lofts occupied as extra-care sheltered housing (orange), socially rented housing remains over two storeys, every 3rd and 5th house. Fewer dwelligs for downsizers as a result (yellow), but kept alongside market housing (white) surrounding gardens on ground floor.
Fig. 3.16 [Academic use only] Town House Tenancy - Scenario 2 - Family dwellings of various tenancies annexe lofts towards the middle of the row (here second and fourth from left). Increase in number of donwsize dwellings as a result. Scenario 3 - Lofts become seperate homes, either for sale or social rent.
Fig. 3.17 [Academic use only] Town House Accessibility. Four dwellings not accessible via lift (darker grey).
While the lofts aren’t prescriptive in their layout, their construction is intended to respond to the comfort needs of older people. In principal, the construction of the town houses is derived from the same simple prefabricated timber construction which was used in phase 1 of the thesis masterplan to remodel parts of the Stow. In addition to implying a relationship between the buildings visually, the lightweight timber construction is used in the townhouses for the same reasons of thermal comfort. In the lofts and other units that may well be occupied by an older household, the timber structure is completely enclosed and its full depth utilised for 300mm of insulation. (Fig 3.18) This highly isolative cloak is then used in the same way as in the remodelling solution, by introducing 150mm of concrete thermal mass lining the walls as a thermal store. This takes advantage of the higher heating points and steadier occupation of older households within the interior. In a changeable maritime climate such as that in the UK, as Day and Hitching’s study has shown, older people hold on to “the belief that maintaining personal warmth is vital for health, and especially so when older.”29 This is confirmed by data recorded in recent studies of ambient interior temperatures of dwellings by institutions grouped together as part of the ‘Warm Front Study’: 29
Day & Hitching, Op. Cit., p. 14.
Fig. 3.19 The Southern (Left) and Northern Facades of the row.
“There were small differences in standardized temperatures depending on whether the household included anyone over 60 years of age. There was no significant difference in the hours of heating for over 60s (12.1 h per day) and under 60s (11.6h per day) suggesting that the increase in standardised temperatures was due to a higher demand temperature for the over 60s.”30 In the town houses, detailing is supported by broader passive solar strategies. The southern façade opens up with more, larger openings to take advantage of passive solar gains with the introduction of dark, matt finishes as heat storage at floor level inside.31 All homes are organised so that living spaces are behind this façade oriented south. (Fig 3.19) As a general principal, the two types of home for families are located on the ground floor over two or three stories at the centre of the house. In these units, kitchens and some bedroom s are placed on the north side of the building as spaces that are usually heated to lower temperatures. (Fig 3.10) 30 Tadj Oreszczyn, Sung H. Hong, Ian Ridley and Paul Wilkinson (Warm Front Study Group), ‘Determinants of winter indoor temperatures in low income households in England’, in, Energy & Buildings, Vol. 38 (2006), pp. 245-52. This quote, p. 250. 31 Porteous, Colin, & Macgregor, Kerr, Solar Architecture in Cool Climates, (London: Earthscan, 2005), p. 158.
Fig. 3.18 Use of materiality in conjunction with broader passive solar orientation to provide a higher base heat for households throughout the town house.
Communality and comfort in Harlow’s future housing Within the field of building research, thermal comfort has only very recently begun to look in any detail at its relationship with ageing. This has emerged alongside questions about how varying thermal conditions might affect older people differently to younger. Research into the issue can be more complicated than with younger generations. As one particular study has highlighted matters of thermal comfort can be “a sensitive topic for discussion” with older people.32 Various factors in their social realm and within peer groups can often impact on how they express themselves and their level of thermal comfort. This can be the case as much in owner occupied housing as it can be in larger institutional settings, as Day & Hitching’s description of the importance of televised weather forecasting and ‘thermal hosting’ - the desire of many households to overheat their homes when receiving visitors - has portrayed. Yet, as van Hoof et al confirm, “In principle, older adults do not perceive thermal comfort differently from younger…adults.”33 The biology of the ageing body is a complex subject. For the purposes of this study, van Hoof et al.’s succinct description is a useful introduction. “The ability to regulate body temperature tends to decrease with age…The circadian rythmycity in body temperature tends to decrease with age. Also, basal metabolism declines with advancing age leading to lower body temperatures, and on average older adults have a lower activity level than younger persons which is the main reason that they require higher ambient temperatures.”34 For older people in institutional settings, the temperatures to which interiors are heated has for a long time followed the guidelines set as part of the Institute of Housing/RIBA document ‘Housing Design Brief – Housing for Elderly People’ of 1988.35 As Colquhoun & Fauset have detailed; “In the same year higher mandatory standards were established for elderly persons’ housing, and a minimum temperature of 70°F (21°C) throughout 32 Day, R & Hitchings, R, Older People & Their Winter Warmth Behaviours: Understanding the contextual dynamics, (London & Birmingham: 2009), p. 36. 33 Van Hoof, J., Kort, H.S.M., Hensen, J.L.M., Duijnstee, M.S.H. & Rutten, P.G.S., ‘Thermal Comfort and the Integrated design of homes for older people with dementia’, in, Building & Environment, Vol. 45, Issue 2, Feb. 2010, pp. 358-70. This quote, p. 361. Van Hoof et al. Op. Cit., p. 361. 34 35 Colquhoun, Ian, & Fauset, Peter G., Housing Design in Practice, (Harlow: Longman, 1991), p. 291.
the dwelling was now required.”36 Within their own homes in the town house however, clearly, older people will allow rooms to vary depending to how they use spaces and where they spend their time, as the warm front study has highlighted: “There may be some variation with age of the householder, older people having higher living room temperatures but lower bedroom temperatures, which may again largely reflect personal choice.”37 Orienting the majority of living and sleeping spaces of those units with older households south and providing external shading allows their residents the choice of benefiting from solar gains. By recessing the south façade into the structure shading is provided by the structure itself and in the middle of the day can be supplemented on the principle of adaptive control with an external shutter operated from within the interior. The depth of the rooms in plan also provides a degree of space for adaptation so that occupants might retreat away from windows. (Fig 3.20) If, as van Hoof et al. have also suggested; “high ambient temperature is found to negatively influence habitual physical activity”, then the home environment can clearly play a role in avoiding these factors accumulating into a negative feedback loop of a self-perpetuating sedentary routine.38 Whilst paying attention to how older people tend to establish their own favourite positions and seating areas within their living spaces, the open plan interior layouts within the town house allow this stationary aspect to continue whilst also encouraging and promoting movement through and around the dwelling by providing through views to the outside that wouldn’t be available in a tighter layout. This can work to give confidence to older people and encourage movement about the home.39 On a thermal comfort basis, this can help to maintain a more positive routine. As van Hoof highlights “according to [physiologists] Kenney & Munce, when the effects of chronic diseases and sedentary lifestyle are minimised, thermal tolerance appears to be minimally compromised by age.40 36 Colquhoun, Ian, & Fauset, Peter G., Housing Design in Practice, (Harlow: Longman, 1991), p. 291. 37 Tadj Oreszczyn, Sung H. Hong, Ian Ridley and Paul Wilkinson (Warm Front Study Group), ‘Determinants of winter indoor temperatures in low income households in England’, in, Energy & Buildings, Vol. 38 (2006), pp. 245-52. This quote, p. 251. 38 Van Hoof et al. Op. Cit., p. 362. 39 On open-plan layouts and visual links see: http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/ mod/oucontent/view.php?id=398080§ion=2.1 On open plan and supporting surfaces see: Timlin & Rysenbry Op. Cit. 40 Van Hoof et al. Op. Cit., p. 362.
Fig. 3.20 Testing of solar ingress in ground floor dwelling in town house with two storey side return; Midday at Winter Solstice (Left Plan and Section) and Summer Solstice (Right Plan and Section)
Solar ingress testing for ground floor dwelling in town house with one storey side return and courtyard twice the width of the house; Midday at Winter Solstice (Left Plan and Section) and Summer Solstice (Right Plan and Section)
By reducing the height of the side-return and staggering them at wider intervals at lease twice the width of thhe house, a base of 2 hours of solar ingess is achieved for the interior whilst increasing the variability of ingress from the front to the back of the room. This would allow for an increased degree of adaptive comfort in the dwelling.
In addition to the interiors of the town houses however, the private and semi-private outdoor spaces also play a role in increasing the range of thermal environments available to older people. (Fig 3.21) Each dwelling within the row has direct, stepfree access to their own garden area or terrace. For the dwellings at ground floor, these are collected together as a courtyard with small level changes between them. (Fig 3.22) There are between four and seven households in each house. The courtyards vary in size with this and the staggering of the row immediately in front of it. The provision of private open space in housing is one of the most contested aspects of its design. David Levitt’s recent notes on the topic drawing from his experiences within the UK sum up the current circumstance today: “One of many conundrums about gardens and balconies is the contrasting preferences of different households when they try to assess their need for private open space…some want more outside space and others less, while some don’t want any at all.”41 Tenancy is varied throughout the row with the variety in sizing of units used to place houses for social rent every 3 and 5 bays alternately to ensure that they are equally dispersed throughout. (Fig 3.14) As a rule however, the smaller, two storey, family dwelling of the size for social rent is given a terrace above and adjacent to the courtyard instead of a garden within it. This is to try and avoid the risk of, as Levitt mentions, “one occupant’s lack of interest in their space becoming a neighbour’s eyesore.”42 A lack of interest in gardening can be as true for those in later life as it is for the younger portion of society. There is however, a definite benefit to the wellbeing of older people that comes from having the opportunity to be outside whilst remaining within their own home environment. And as recent research in the field of wellbeing highlights, this can be furthered through semi-public or communal spaces that stretch the boundaries of this ‘private realm’ to increase opportunities for ‘mediating processes’ or social contact. “Neighbourhood features also affect older people’s quality of life through mediating processes. For example, Milligan et al (2004) found that communal gardening creates inclusionary spaces and helps mitigate social isolation, which is a major problem affecting older people.”43 41 Levitt, Op. Cit., p. 96. 42 Levitt, Op. Cit., p. 97. 43 Aspinall P A, Ward Thompson C, Alves S, Sugiyama T, Brice R, Vickers A, 2010, “Preference and relative importance for environmental attributes of neighborhood open space in older people” Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Vol. 37, No. 6, pp. 1022 – 1039, this quote, p. 1022.
Fig. 3.21 The gardens at Halyday House in Harlow demonstrate the value of gardens to older people. 151
Fig. 3.22 View from veranda ovelooking the shared garden from the ground floor downsizers dwelling 153
Getting older people outdoors is also encouraged by the broader layout of Phase 3 of the masterplan. The proposal to orient dwellings in rows was developed early on in the design process in seeking to provide a series of ‘loops’ within the local area that improve connectedness to the existing green and public spaces in the vicinity. (Fig 3.24, over page) These mews streets negotiate the change in levels that exist on the site, rising the two metres from west to east. (Fig 3.23) Following the establishment of the new cycle route and shared surface leading to the park over First Avenue in phases 1 and 2, the series of Mews access routes provide an easily legible street pattern from the homes within the town houses to the neighbourhood centre. These routes are a key stage in furthering the home environment of the older residents within the town houses. As research by Aspinall confirms: “Path connectedness and the existence of specific destinations along paths have been positively linked to instrumental and recreational walking in retirement-community campuses. ( Joseph and Zimring, 2007)”44 44 Aspinall P A, Ward Thompson C, Alves S, Sugiyama T, Brice R, Vickers A, 2010, “Preference and relative importance for environmental attributes of neighborhood open space in older people” Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Vol. 37, No. 6, pp. 1022 – 1039, this quote, p. 1022.
Fig. 3.23 The small parking areas along the mews are left uncovered to work as small meeting points along the Mews streets.
Fig. 3.24 Neighbourhood Centre Loops Ambulant loops were mapped across the neighbourhood centre to ensure that rest spots were provided at 400-500m intervals. The use of the uncovered parking spaces and a buffer zone between the garden and the Mews street endeavor to create destinations along these routes.
The greenhouses held within the structure on the fourth floor compensate the lofts for the lack of a garden with a smaller, more manageable space to grow plants. It is more difficult to compensate for their position above and away from the mews street. Again to paraphrase Levitt, there is a “justifiable prejudice against narrow access galleries in their normal UK configuration”.45 However, as a number of schemes within the study ‘living streets’ recently undertaken in Germany highlight, when given the right orientation and sufficient width, especially for residents with lower mobility, external access galleries can function not just as ideal ambulatory routes but destinations in their own right.46 By configuring the greenhouses to shelter smaller destinations along the route the proposal seeks to encourage the kinds of claims on public space that are easy to observe in many other care environments. (Fig 3.25 3.26 & 3.27) The provision of external but sheltered stairways between the houses extends this further. In particular here, the use of the timber structure as a climbing frame for plants can be maintained as a way of providing a shift for senses of colour and texture that help with interpretation and recall of the entrance as a space for older people. (Fig 3.25 & 3.26) In parallel to this, along the Mews, opportunities for resting are provided with benches overlooking the courtyards along a buffer between te courtyard and the street.47 Fig. 3.25 Even where access decks become as narrow as in this photo (1.5m), people wit reduced mobility will make use of the space if they perceive it to be safe.
Fig. 3.26 Greenhouses in the Row The pre-fabricated units of the greenouses could be installed to the requirements of the tenants needs, either as part of the care package of extra-care housing, or, at the cost of teh tenant. 158
45 Levitt, Op. Cit., p. 110. 46 See: Ebner, Peter, and Klafke, Julius, Wohnwege: Laubengange im Wohnungsbau, (New York & Vienna: Springer, 2009) and, Erbner, ‘Integrated Living’, Op. Cit., pp. 10-23. 47 Veronica Simpson, ‘Designing for Dementia’, in, World Health Design, January 2010, pp. 22-29.
Fig. 3.27 Greenhouse plan extract Spaces between the greenhouses can be easily covered to articulate them as destinations off the path of the route.
Fig. 3.28 Stairwells as vertical green spaces connecting the Mews to upper stories and the lofts
Fig. 3.29 The stairwells run through the length of the building to give landings views in each direction. Utilising a stair layout that climbs in one direction and avoiding using a dog-leg or return stair is also reccommended to aid with recall of destinations and to avoid disorientation. 161
The older section of Harlow’s society does have a presence at the ground level of the townhouses. The ninth type of home within the house responds to the needs of those older people in the town needing to downsize. (Fig 3.27) By its nature and the younger generation of older people it involves, downsizing is a less immediate need than care environments. It is a need that is increasingly problematic in Harlow and the UK today however. For the large proportion of Harlow’s population who are just approaching old-age, the lack of typical variety in Harlow’s housing stock has a further dimension. In their work ‘Longevity and Urbanism’, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk & Scott Ball have highlighted the importance of a diversity of dwelling types to those “older adults who wish to remain in their current neighbourhoods” whilst “downsizing to reduce maintenance and expense seems practical.”48 As they describe, ensuring that there is variety in the types of home available is a key first step to ensuring that aging in place can happen should health or mobility problems occur. In the UK, again, as with the subject of heating and thermal comfort, the idea of downsizing can be a terribly sensitive subject. For many of those approaching retirement who have grown used to living in spacious family homes by themselves it is simply not an option they wish to consider. Within the Mark Hall/Netteswell neighbourhood where 3-bedroom detached and terraced homes constitute over three quarters of the housing stock, smaller dwellings, that is, with fewer bedrooms but perhaps more living space, are not easy to find. Of those that there are, many are in the two towers within the neighbourhood. (Fig 3.28) 48
Plater-Zyberk & Ball Op. Cit., p. 202.
Fig. 3.30 Plan. Unit Ground A The dwelling for downsizers has a second and a larger bedroom. The key for its success as a proposal however are the open plan living spaces and terraces. 162
Fig. 3.31 Aside from the terraces witin the Tanyâ€™s Dell housing group (the 160 in the tallest spike of the graph) the average dwelling size in Mark Hall/Netteswell is 70mÂ˛. For downsizers who discount homes with large gardens, this leaves a small proportion of flats which are all under 70mÂ˛.
Today’s 45 year old in 2032 - A co-houser? Research by the Panel for Innovation on Housing our Ageing Population (HAPPI)suggests that of those that do move to smaller homes in later life, only a third are doing so out of a choice about space requirements.49 Of course, in Harlow, as elsewhere in the country, this has had its own knock-on effect for families looking for the type of property those younger older people are occupying. As the HAPPI panel have concluded, in order to begin what they call “a virtuous circle of downsizing and reinvestment”, “a major shift of perceptions and national priorities is needed to match the quality and quantity of desirable housing for older people now found in many European countries.”50 With this final type of home, the town houses created in phase 3 of the masterplan begins to address this issue. But there are other possibilities within the neighbourhood centre that can offer solutions to this, and they need not necessarily make recourse to top down, government lead ‘national’ schemes as referred to by the HAPPI panel. There are already signs of change however in the preferences of how older people are choosing to live. One particular area of this only just beginning to come to fruition has been the growth of self-build, ‘co-housing’ communities developing housing on their own sites, often to their own designs.51 Indeed, these schemes can include a great deal of participation on the part of their residents in the construction process and on in to the management of their surroundings. They also invariably include some small provision for community interior spaces including kitchens and common rooms.52 In the current economic climate and under the recent difficult conditions emerging in the housing market for those looking to rent privately, co-housing has become an attractive option for individuals at all stages of life. Co-housing involves groups of people coming together on the basis of common interests, and a lot is made of how it “is based, by definition, on resident choice, empowerment and sustainable community.”53 Especially for older people, and especially older, often single, women, co-housing is an effective option to counter some of the kind of problems that someone like Moira experiences with mismanaged community spaces. But it is not quite that simple here in the UK. If it seems like a quick fix answer to housing problems throughout the country, then why has it not developed as a standard method of procurement for housing? The answer is the same as it was over a decade ago. As Maria Brenton wrote then: 49 Homes & Communities Agency & The Department of Health, Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation, (London: Homes & Communities Agency, 2009), p. 10. 50 Homes & Communities Agency & The Department of Health, Op. Cit., p. 45. 51 For an introduction to Co-Housing see; Brenton, Maria, ‘Older People’s CoHousing Communities’, in, Sheila M. Peace & Caroline Holland Eds., Inclusive Housing in an Ageing Society: Innovative Approaches, (Bristol: Policy Press, 2001), pp. 169-188. And for more recent information, the national co-housing network: www.co-housing.org.uk 52 Link to scheme in Leeds 53 Brenton, Op. Cit., p. 181.
“There is no equivalent in Britain to the infrastructure of support provided to CoHousing in the Netherlands. Britain’s culture fosters individualism rather than collective enterprise and our social and financial institutions are not geared to facilitating group mortgages, mutual ownership and group autonomy.”54 The closest model to that of co-housing in a UK context was the 1980s model of ‘community technical aid’ or ‘community architecture’.55 Recent commentators on this model have suggested that: “Community Architecture may be dormant, but it is not dead. Properly promoted, its revival could do much to stimulate the development of alternative values.” 56 The modes
of funding set up to support this at the time however are no longer available. Even if group mortgages are becoming
more common in the UK today as prices and wages continue to diverge, there are still major financial barriers to be overcome. As a more recent report detailed; “as a result the sector is dominated by those who have been able to build equity in their existing homes before switching to co-housing.”57 Change in the housing market is driven by demand. This however, could also begin to be more changeable than it has been for a long time over the next twenty years. Stepping away from academic texts for a moment to a broadcast last year on BBC Radio 4’s thinking allowed programme: “Much political debate still revolves around the assumption that most of us live in conventional family homes. However research suggests that in 20 years time only 2 out of 5 people will be in marriages and married couples will be outnumbered by other types of household. Behind closed doors, Britain is changing: Single living has increased by 30% in 10 years but at the same time financial pressures are fuelling a growth in extended families - people sharing bills, childcare and mucking-in in a way which makes private life far less private.”58 An alternative to downsizing for many families in the UK is to live as an extended family under one roof. The townhouses make this form of living possible. The nine types of home presented here are not exhaustive and could be added to by various other permutations within the structural framework of the house. As a form of collective living between from four to seven households, it would also present an opportunity to a collective of families to come together on a co-housing model to purchase a townhouse in its entirety. (Fig 3.32) 54 Brenton, Op. Cit., p. 181. 55 There are examples of this model and ‘self-build’ projects in some of the later New Towns. See Colin Ward, ‘The Do-It-Yourself New Town’, in, Talking Houses: Ten Lectures by Colin Ward, (London: Freedom Press, 1990). Paul Jenkins, Joanne Milner and Tim Sharpe, ‘A Brief Historical Review of Community Technical Aid and Community Architecture’, in, Paul Jenkins and Leslie Forsyth Eds. Architecture, Participation and Society, (London & New York: Routeledge, 2010), pp. 23-38. Paul Jenkins et al. Op. Cit., p. 37. 56 57 Miles Brignall, ‘Communal Living: Grand designs on living in perfect harmony’, in, The Guardian, Sat. 24th October 2009 58 Charlie Taylor (Producer), ‘Home Life 1 - Multi-Generational Household’, Thinking Allowed, Last Broadcast on Mon, 29th August 2011, 00:15 on BBC Radio 4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b013fj1p (last Accessed 24th June 2012)
Fig. 3.32 Axonometric View of town house from north Co-housing groups in the UK to-date have consisted of between twenty and thirty housholds. Where this can be difficult to achieve, a form of housing such as that proposed in phase 3 of the masterplan has the potential to offer a variety of different group sizes, from 4 to almost 30. 165
As a model, the remodelling of the neighbourhood centre also presents a possibility for addressing the shortage of large 4 or 5 bedroom homes in the Mark Hall/Netteswell neighbourhood. Should current trends of extended â€˜bean poleâ€™ families living under one roof continue and any of the shop units in Block A of the neighbourhood centre become disused, a strategy could be to introduce more variety to the Stow by extending the two bed maisonettes down into the shop below. (Fig 3.33) This final proposal beyond the thesis masterplan returns to the neighbourhood centre, creating a garage out of the yard of the old shop and an annexe above it. In this way a shared courtyard is created at first floor level. (Fig 3.34) This would be difficult to achieve without two neighbouring shop units becoming available, largely for acoustic reasons. The integration of four to five bedroom homes within the Stow would further the thesis masterplan however and continue the reinvigoration of the neighbourhood centre beyond the initial investment of the first three phases.
Fig. 3.33 Plan of ground floor extension of maisonette into shop unit 4 bedroom layout (above) and optional 5th bedroom (below) 166
Existing 2 bedroom maisonette over 2 stories
Annexe Extension over garage to create courtyard
Fig. 3.34 Axonometric view; Extension of 2-Bed maisonette into the shop beneath to create 4/5 bedroom dwellings in the Stow. 167
Consultation Policy making on care for older people is constantly changing. During the period in which this thesis has been written and collated, the Department of Healthâ€™s white paper on minimum standards for care funding throughout the UK has promised to make it easier for older people to move home whilst retaining the level of care to which they have become accustomed. It will be some time before the consequences of this for housing provision in the UK are felt by providers and local government. The increasingly mobile older generation it will create could well contribute in the short term to changes in attitudes about housing for older people however.1 In the latter stages of the development of this design thesis, 1 See for instance: Nicholas Watt, â€˜National Minimum Standard for elderly care to be introducedâ€™, in, The Guardian, Monday 9th July 2012. Available online: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jul/09/elderly-minimum-standard (Last accessed 14th July 2012)
consultation with the sheltered housing service within Harlow town council was undertaken to evaluate the housing within the masterplan that was beginning to emerge. Reactions of the staff and management present were positive but inevitably mixed. On the subject of the dwellings attending to the needs of those older people wanting to downsize for example, some felt collective housing was ideal for the types of families that live in the town who want to be next to older members of their own families. Others felt that the sheltered housing service was catering well to this need already. Still others preferred the model of adapting parts of the Stow to provide much larger, single family homes for this purpose. Alongside a number of helpful examples of other schemes to compare the thesis with however, there was one key point to which conversations returned. From a point of safety, maintenance and the cost of care, the view of many in the group was that integrated housing was not yet a viable option in the town for older people. Clearly, when it comes to more vulnerable older people, attitudes are difficult to turn. This is never more
the case than when talking with those who deal with older people in their daily work. For them, the safety and wellbeing of the people within homes they run are a source of great pride. From the other side of the fence as well, as meetings with a number of older people in sheltered housing have shown, tenants in sheltered housing really love living there. Design Guidance The thesis masterplan has demonstrated that through integrated housing, the neighbourhoods of post-war New Town settlements can certainly be re-imagined as environments for their ageing populations. Through the creation of hybrid models of collective and single family housing in their redevelopment, neighbourhood centres can provide the kind of opportunity rich environment that affords great benefits to the wellbeing of those in later life. By adopting phased masterplanning that begins with small, low budget interventions, it is possible for local government to raise expectations about what these small centres have to offer in order to secure investment for more extensive redevelopment. Then, in partnership with both private enterprise and groups or co-operatives of local residents, neighbourhood centres can be restructured as attractive places to live. The initiation of all three phases of the thesis masterplan for the Stow would amount to a major commitment to investment in the area by any collective group. And given more time, further opportunity for research on neighbourhood centres in the other Mark-1 New Towns would be desirable to assess the effectiveness and potential for further application of the design approach. Yet as the success of certain aspects of the scheme in consultation highlight, as their populations continue to age, there is much to be taken from this study for the development of local design framework policies in post-war New Town settlements. There are several outcomes of the research that could be extracted as design guidance for future development. Three in particular can be stated quite boldly: 1. The neighbourhood centres are a vital asset in transforming the towns for all their residents, but especially older people. The centres must be recognised as an architectural typology in their own right and strategies developed to modify their podium typologies. In the current economic climate, the potential of low budget use-change and remodelling strategies must be utilised as direct means to counter negative perceptions of their performance. 2. The neighbourhood centres can also be green spaces. The creation of easily accessible, public open green space at the centre of the neighbourhoods must be prioritised. If older people are to live within the immediate area of neighbourhood centres, accessible green spaces in the form of formal parks and gardens should be planned there. Re-appropriation of current underused green areas should be considered in this. 3. The town house should be reconsidered as a typology of housing in the New Towns. As sites for infill in the vicinity of the neighbourhood centres become available, town house forms of housing should be used to integrate older households alongside families. As a form of housing it can achieve the integration of form s of tenancy as well as size and type of household through its provision of a variety of shared, semi-private and communal spaces that can be of great benefit to the wellbeing of its occupants. 170
The future value of design research As a piece of design research within an emerging sphere of architectural pedagogy, this thesis has been highly speculative. As a contribution to knowledge, in many ways it has been a study scoping for gaps between fields and disciplines of research. At a broad level, the thesis has hopefully demonstrated the potential of the discipline of architecture to contribute to the work of gerontologists. Looking more broadly still, throughout the duration of the project, the environmental implications of integrating older people within collective housing has been a persistent background to the argument for doing so. There was not the opportunity to properly investigate this for the final iteration of the scheme however. Research into the implications of how older people heat their homes is a burgeoning field of study, with a number of scientific research projects being funded at several UK institutions. One EPSRC study in particular, Conditioning Demand - Older People, Diversity and Thermal Experience - a collaboration led by Manchester University with Lancaster, Cardiff and Exeter Universities - will doubtless go on to offer great insight into current perceptions of thermal comfort in old age. Yet in trying to establish â€œimplications for future energy consumptionâ€?, such a study will be working almost entirely on primary research drawn from interviews.2 In demonstrating the potential for the integration of older people in collective housing, living at close quarters with families and other groups, hopefully, this study has also demonstrated the potential of more propositional methodologies to accompany existing scientific research methods.
2 See: http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/ H051082/1
Jack at Home outside the Stort Tower
The Stort Tower 2 View from flat 27 looking East over the Mark Hall/Netteswell Neighbourhood
Flat number 27 6 Fig. 0.1 7 The Position of Harlow and the Mark-1 New Towns within the South-East Region Fig. 0.2 8 Demographic Spreads in 1971 (Left) and 2001 (Right) for the UK (Light Grey) and Harlow (Dark Grey) Fig. 0.3 9 Proportion of Harlow’s Population over the age of 65, in 1971 (Top), 2001 (Middle) and in particular areas of the town today (bottom). Jubilee Tea Party at Katherine’s House, Harlow
Fig. 0.4 12 The Mark-1 New Towns’ Neighbourhood Structures Fig. 0.5 13 Harlow Mapped by Government Statistics in the form of the Indices of Multiple Deprivation. Total (Left) and Employment (Right) Harlow Today - An aerial view of the town and its context in west Essex
Fig. 0.6 16 Plans for growth in Harlow Fig. 0.7 18 Aerial view of the Thesis Masterplan Fig. 0.8 20 Section through the Thesis Masterplan Out and about in Harlow’s Mark Hall/Netteswell neighbourhood
Fig. 1.0 26 Harlow’s Urban Infrastructure Fig. 1.1 29 Harlow’s Neighbourhood Structure as planned in 1948 (top) and Metabolism today (bottom). Fig. 1.2 33 Harlow’s 5 Neighbourhoods From Left, p. 46: Old Harlow, Little Parndon, Bush Fair, Great Parndon, and Mark Hall/Netteswell 173
Maisonette Blocks in the Little Parndon Neighbourhood by Powell and Moya
Fig. 1.3 Distribution of Older Population in Harlow by Super Output Area (SOA)
Fig. 1.4 35 Typical mid-morning street scene in the Stow, the neighbourhood centre of the Mark hall/Netteswell neighbourhood. Fig. 1.5 36 The value of the neighbourhood centres to the wellbeing of local older residents is clear. (From left) The Stow in Mark Hall/Netteswell and its services, recognised use as a social meeting space, and small employment. Fig. 1.6 39 Employment at the Stow Fig. 1.7 40 Green Space categorisation in the Harlow Local Plan for Mark Hall/Netteswell Fig. 1.8 42 Stow Block B from the North Square Fig. 1.9 43 Block B within the North West Corner of the Stow Fig. 1.10 43 The different organisations of the Stow podium blocks The Stow ca. 1955 45 Fig. 1.11 The New Town Neighbourhood Centre Type
Fig. 1.12 49 Harlow’s Sheltered Housing Schemes Fig. 1.13 48 Harlow’s 17 Sheltered Housing Schemes and their relationship to green spaces in the town. Fig. 1.14 50 The existing yards at first floor level on the west side of blocks A and B of the Stow provide little amenity value other than in the summer months in evenings. Fig. 1.15 51 Plan. Phase 1 Proposal for Remodelling of Ground Floor Shop Units as Dwellings Fig. 1.16 Private outdoor spaces with the opportunity to share areas between the group.
Fig 1.17 Spalling Brickwork and Warping Roof Felt, Mark Hall/Netteswell, July 2012
Fig 1.18 55 Spalling Brickwork, The Stow Fig 1.19 56 The Stow’s Solid Brickwork Construction Fig 1.20 57 Existing section through Block B detailing solid brickwork and false ceiling removed in remodelling 174
Fig 1.21 Phase 1 construction proposal for shop unit conversion
Fig 1.23 60 Local Green Space Proposals. Fig. 1.24 62 Harlow’s Green Space Infrastructure Fig. 1.25 64 Allotments off Howards Way, Mark Hall Fig. 1.26 66 Second Avenue Green Wedge Fig. 1.27 68 Second Avenue Green Wedge Fig. 1.28 70 ‘Prairie Planning’ Fig. 1.29 71 Mobility Scooters are used by many older people in the UK today to compensate for frailty and a reduction in their mobility. Fig. 1.30 73 First Avenue is the street running from east to west over the roundabout Fig. 1.31 Great Plumtree housing group border with 1st Avenue
Fig. 1.32 Phase 1 proposal for Great Pulmtree Park Entrance
Fig. 2.1 Mark Hall/Netteswell’s Green Corridor Sub-Network
Fig. 2.2 ‘Green’ corridor extension through the site. 82 Fig. 2.3 Phase 2 proposal for Courtyard Housing along First Avenue
Fig. 2.4 Stow Block F 86 Fig. 2.5 86 Block F garage corner Fig. 2.6 87 Removal of spandrel walls to create new street. Fig. 2.7 88 Charley in New Town demonstrates how central movement through green spaces was deemed to be to the improved wellbeing of New Town residents. This is still the case today. Fig. 2.8 88 Archive footage of cyclists leaving work in Harlow ca. 1955. Fig. 2.9 All of the arterial routes of the town include cycle paths at their sides
Fig. 2.10 Corner site of Aldi supermarket proposal from the Stort tower
Fig. 2.11 92 Phase 2 courtyard block from Great Plumtree Park entrance Fig. 2.12 94 Phase 2 Plan, supermarket level, -04.00 Fig. 2.13 96 Phase 2 Plan, podium level, 00.00 Fig. 2.14 98 Phase 2 Plan, first floor level +03.00 Fig. 2.15 100 Phase 2 Plan, second floor level +05.80 Fig. 2.16 103 Models of urban capacity in neighbourhoods ÂŠ DETR Fig. 2.17 104 The variety of densities within the Mark Hall/Netteswell neighbourhood. Figs. 2.18-26 106 Dwelling massing and open space options tested on the site Fig. 2.27 108 Section through courtyard block looking east Fig. 2.28 110 Approaching the phase 2 courtyard block from Great Plumtree Park with the new toilet block and bus shelter on the left. Fig. 2.29 112 Mapping of 400m radius from First Avenue Fig. 2.30 114 Mapping of walking distances to bus services in the Mark Hall/Netteswell neighbourhood Moira Jones at home in Bishopsfield 116 Fig. 3.1 119 Difficulties encountered in modifying Dwellings in Mark Hall/Netteswell for older people Fig. 3.2 120 Difficulties encountered in modifying Dwellings in Mark Hall/Netteswell for older people Fig. 3.3 Dwelling Quantities brought into the New Town neighbourhoods?
Fig. 3.4 Segmentation of the Non-Standard Housing Sector as perceived by HAPPI
Fig. 3.5 123 Housing tenure by district in the London Commuter Belt region. Fig. 3.6 123 HDC, Harlow Housing Strategy, 2008-13, (Harlow: HDC, 2008)
Fig. 3.7 124 Predominant Typologies of housing in Harlow; bungalow, terrace, detached single family, podium
block, slab block, stacked maisonettes/townhouse. Fig. 3.8 132 Town House as a housing typology in Harlow Fig. 3.9 133 Homes & Communities Agency & the Department of Health, Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation, (London: Homes & Communities Agency, 2009) Fig. 3.10 133 Schittich, Christian Ed., Housing for People of All Ages, (Basel: Birkh채user, 2007) Fig. 3.11 135 Thesis Phase 3 town house Fig. 3.12 136 Thesis Phase 3 town house row Fig. 3.13 139 Town house dwellings catering to older households. Fig. 3.14 140 Loft A living space Fig. 3.15 143 Town House Tenancy - Scenario 1 Fig. 3.16 143 Town House Tenancy - Scenario 2 Fig. 3.17 143 Town House Accessibility. Fig. 3.18 145 Use of materiality in conjunction with broader passive solar orientation to provide a higher base heat for households throughout the town house. Fig. 3.19 144 The Southern (Left) and Northern Facades of the row. Fig. 3.20 147 Testing of solar ingress in ground floor dwelling in town house with two storey side return; Midday at Winter Solstice (Left Plan and Section) and Summer Solstice (Right Plan and Section) Fig. 3.21 149 The gardens at Halyday House in Harlow demonstrate the value of gardens to older people. Fig. 3.22 151 View from veranda overlooking the shared garden from the ground floor downsizers dwelling Fig. 3.23 153 The small parking areas along the mews are left uncovered to work as small meeting points along the Mews streets. Fig. 3.24 154 Neighbourhood Centre Loops Fig. 3.25 156 Even where access decks become as narrow as in this photo (1.5m), people wit reduced mobility will make use of the space if they perceive it to be safe. 177
Fig. 3.26 156 Greenhouses in the Row Fig. 3.27 157 Greenhouse plan extract Fig. 3.28 158 Stairwells as vertical green spaces connecting the Mews to upper stories and the lofts Fig. 3.29 159 The stairwells run through the length of the building to give landings views in each direction. Fig. 3.30 160 Plan. Unit Ground A Fig. 3.31 161 Mark Hall North dwelling dispersal Fig. 3.32 163 Axonometric View of town house from north Fig. 3.33 164 Plan of ground floor extension of maisonette into shop unit 4 bedroom layout (above) and optional 5th bedroom (below) Fig. 3.34 165 Axonometric view; Extension of 2-Bed maisonette into the shop beneath to create 4/5 bedroom dwellings in the Stow.
B i b l i o g r a p h y
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