PROSPECTS #01 DUBLIN
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men’s blood. Daniel Hudson Burnham
Welcome to Prospects #01 — A New Kind of Suburbia
Metropolitan Workshop has committed to a programme of practice-based research aimed at capturing and communicating our practice expertise and reflecting on it with leading thinkers to promote innovation and enhance our creative endeavour.
04 — Evolution of the Dublin Suburbs
Why Suburbia, Now? — In Numbers 06 — Unaffordable Ireland
Centre for Cities estimate that between 2001 and 2011 the suburban population of cities grew by 8%.
12 — The Homestead
Centre for Cities estimate that in 2015 the suburbs were home to 55 percent of total population of England and Wales.
Smith Institute study in 2009 identified that between 75% and 80% of homes in England can be found in suburban places.
We intend to select a major research theme biannually, driven by our practice imperatives and our collaborators. Like everything else we do as a studio, our research process will be tailored to the specific issues at hand and encourage collaboration. Each research project will begin with an issue of Prospects, a set of proposition papers that will constructively challenge our thinking, and coincide with an exhibition to encourage participation and planned events to capture debate within practice and refine our analysis. Our research projects will end with an addendum Prospects, which will capture new knowledge from participating experts, present new reflection and analysis on our past and current practice, and critically propose new ways of thinking that will enrich our future practice with collaborators.
8% 7% 6% 5% 4% 3% 2% 1%
The percentage of 25-34 year-olds who own a home has fallen from 60% to 38% between 1981 and 2016. (ONS)
08 — Why Suburbia, now?
16 — Designing for Play % OF 25-34YO WHO OWN A HOME
Private rent has risen from 25% in 2006 to 47% by 2016. (ONS)
In 2017, 160,606 new homes were registered with the NHBC, with semi and detached properties accounting for 26% and 30%.
46 — Case Study: Clonburris, Dublin West
38% At the end of CABE’s national audit in 2006 only 4% of suburban projects were considered good and had the highest proportion of poor schemes at 43%.
This copy of Prospects is special. It is the entry point to our first research project and our emerging research programme, and the first issue we have selected is A New Kind of Suburbia.
The UK population is ageing – around 18.2% were 65 or older at mid-2017, compared with 15.9% in 2007. This percentage is projected to grow to 20.7% by 2027. (ONS)
32 — Case Study: Ranelagh
Very Good Good
URBAN 8% 8% 46%
42 — Recalling Ballymun
60% 43% 40% 29%
Metropolitan Workshop with Dinah Bornat (Co-director of ZCD Architects) Mark Latham (Regeneration Director, Urban Splash) Jo McCafferty (Director, Levitt Bernstein) Grace Keeley and Michael Pike (Director, GKMP) John O’Mahony (Director, O’Mahony Pike Architects) Madeleine Waller Brian Moran (Managing Director, Hines)
52 — Origins of the Semi-D
54 — Stories of Suburbia
Designed by Smiling Wolf smilingwolf.co.uk 3
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Evolution of the Dublin Suburbs A close reading of our existing sub-urban fabric promotes a deeper understanding of the fundamental constituents of these areas informing more considered future suburban neighbourhoods.
IN THE LATE 19TH AND EARLY 20TH CENTURIES our cities expanded to house the growing middle-classes seeking to move out of the crowded city centre. The Victorian and Edwardian red brick terraces were developed in response. These remained a dense typology as the majority of people still needed to live in close proximity to the city or at least the railways. The residents of early 20th century Dublin travelled on public transport, by foot or by bike. At this time cars were still unaffordable. By 1915, there were 9,850 cars in Ireland and a third of them were in Dublin. In 2019, 84% of households in Ireland have a car. As transport and density are inextricably linked our low density suburbs would not be possible without affordable private cars. While the negative aspects of this type of development were not foreseen at the time, we are all too aware of them now. Apart from the obvious environmental issues associated with private transport the low-density suburb has adverse effects on people’s quality of life. A recent study by Focus Ireland showed that 1 in 4 people are commuting for over an hour each way in Ireland. So how can we create sustainable medium density low rise suburbs in Ireland today, how do we find the balance between people’s desire for space, privacy and quality of life?
The following studies look at the evolution of the typical suburban block and breaks them down into their constituent parts. We then look at how current planning guidelines inform current development and how we might work within these constraints to promote typologies which might better suit Ireland’s changing demographics.
.95 HA Portobello - Victorian 4
Crumlin - 1940s
Ballinteer - 1970s
The Victorian Suburb Taking a typical street in Portobello we discover that itâ€™s a high-density low-rise area. The houses themselves are small (approx. 60m2) and the amount of private amenity space and car parking is below the current minimum standards. However, it is a very popular residential neighbourhood and yet under todayâ€™s planning guidelines we would not be able to replicate this model to achieve a density of 100dph.
Metropolitan Workshop have developed some block studies that relate to the Irish context. These look at how the density and diversity can be increased within a similar block size. This model could be used for extensions or as infill development to existing suburbs. In order to allow for more innovative solutions to emerge the following should be considered, a relaxation of parking standards (supported by improvements in public transport) and more flexibility around how private amenity space is provided.
100% 2B4P Dwel:
front to front
The Contemporary Suburb The pattern of development from 1940-2000s is very similar. The land around the city begins to be developed as low density housing by the Councils and private developers. The block studies illustrate the relationship between dwelling size, private amenity space, car ownership and density. In each case the area for parking and roads is substantial. A New Kind of Suburbia If we are to create diverse, flexible and sustainable suburban neighbourhoods then the house types that make up suburbia need to diversify to respond to our changing demographics. We are no longer a society defined by the nuclear family and the suburbs need to reflect this change. A wide variety of house sizes and tenure are required to allow people to stay in their area while their needs change during their lifetime.
100% 2B4P Dwel: 65-70m2
100% 3B5P Dwel:
A New Kind
of Suburbia Low Density
Clonburris Metropolitan Workshop
18% 4B7P Dwel:
36% 1/2/3B Apts: 51/74/91m2 14% Duplx:
93% 1/2/3B Apts: 51/74/91m2 Duplx:
front to front
Left: Illustrative view of a contemporary Dublin suburb Below: Density plan diagrams
High Density 5
Unaffordable Ireland -In Numbers
6. 5 6. 5
%% 6060 %% 5050 %% 4040
%% 3030 %% 2020 %% 1010
44 2046 2046
2008 2019 20082019
The population in Ireland is expected to grow rapidly in the The Therising risingpopulation populationgrowth growthfrom from2008 2008toto2019 2019and and next 35 years, this suggests a greater demand for housing in expected population growth forfor2046. expected population growth 2046. the future.
Families account Families account forfor 37% ofof 37% households households
65% ofof housing 65% housing stock stock == family homes family homes
In Dublin, 37% of all households are families, however 65% InInDublin, Dublin,37% 37%ofofallallhouseholds householdsare arefamilies, families,however however65% 65% of all dwellings are family homes. ofofallalldwellings dwellingsare arefamily familyhomes. homes.
HOUSING HOUSINGDELIVERY DELIVERY 25,000 25,000 (REQUIRED ANUALLY) (REQUIRED ANUALLY)
The diagrams opposite attempt to set out some driving factors behind today’s housing crisis as well as some of the impacts this is having on people’s lives. A New Kind of Suburbia looks at some of the solutions coming forward to deliver sustainable suburbs for the future.
The solutions need to address a range of issues from fiscal policy, taxation, land costs, planning and regulation issues. In parallel there is a need for the state to deliver a steady supply of social housing and to create a mechanism for the delivery of affordable housing.
%% 8080 %% 7070
In simple terms the cause of the housing crisis can be defined as too little supply (primarily in cities), which is failing to meet the growing and diverse demands from first time buyers and new arrivals who are moving to the nation’s larger urban areas.
The issue of affordability is one symptom of the current housing crisis. It is a multifaceted problem and as such the solutions are also varied and not straight forward to deliver.
%% 100 100
It finds that in some counties – Meath, Kildare and Wicklow – it can take more than 15 years for someone on an average income to accumulate enough for a 10 per cent down-payment, due mostly to high house prices and rising rents.
HOUSING HOUSINGDEMAND DEMANDV VSUPPLY SUPPLY
POPULATION POPULATIONGROWTH GROWTH
NEARLY HALF of all counties in the State are unaffordable for first-time buyers on average incomes, as recent property price hikes continue to push home ownership out of reach for many. This is according to a recent study by EY-DKM Economic Advisory. The report has assessed affordability in terms of the salary required to qualify for a mortgage, as well as the ability to save enough for a 10 per cent deposit.
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
URBAN POPULATION Approx Approx18,816, 18,816,additional additionalhousing housingunits unitswere werebuilt builtinin2018. 2018. The report also forecasts 22044 dwelling to be built The report also forecasts 22044 dwelling to be builtinin2019. 2019.
65% of housing stock = family homes
Goodbody “Irish Economic Report”. Goodbody “Irish Economic Report”.
INCOME INCOMEV VHOUSE HOUSEPRICE PRICE
€1€0120,699 9 2, 6 9
Urban Population In 2018, 63% of 4.8 million people live in urban areas. €2€3263,282787 6,
ds are families, however 65%
In 2018 63% of 4.8 people live in urban areas.
4 4 2046 2046
2008 2019 2008 2019
The rising population growth from 2008 to 2019 and The rising population growth from 2008 to 2019 and expected population growth for 2046. expected population growth for 2046.
Families account Families account for 37% of for 37% of households households
65% of housing 65% of housing stock stock = = family homes family homes
In Dublin, 37% of all households are fami of all dwellings are family homes.
25,000 (REQUIRED ANUALLY)
65% o s
Families account for 37% of households
In 2018 63% of 4.8 people live in urban areas. In 2018 63% of 4.8 people live in urban areas.
In Dublin, 37% of all households are families, however 65% In Dublin, 37% of all households are families, however 65% of all dwellings are family homes. of all dwellings are family homes.
Housing price inflation
The rising population growth from 2008 to 2019 and expected population growth for 2046.
25,000 25,000 (REQUIRED ANUALLY) (REQUIRED ANUALLY)
10% 2008 2019
5.3% HOUSING DELIVERY HOUSING DELIVERY
70% 60% 60% 50% 50% 40% 40% 30% 30% 20% 20% 10% 10% 0% 0%
Approx 18,816, additional housing units were built in 2018. The report also forecasts 22044 dwelling to be built in 2019.
Wages are not increasing at the rate as house prices and 2017 2018 2019 2020 rent 2017 2018 2019 rate as 2020 Wages are not increasing at the same house prices and rent
Approx 18,816, additional housing units were built in 2018. The report also forecasts 22044 dwelling to be built in 2019. Goodbody “Irish Economic Report”.
Approx 18,816, additional housing units were built in 2018. Approx 18,816, additional housing units were built in 2018. The report also forecasts 22044 dwelling to be built in 2019. The report also forecasts 22044 dwelling to be built in 2019.
(Source: CSO and Rebuilding Ireland)
INCOME V HOUSE PRICE
Goodbody “Irish Economic Report”. Goodbody “Irish Economic Report”.
1.1. London. London. Housingprice price Housing inflation inflation
€ 1 0 2, 6 9 9 1 0 2, 6 9 9 €€1 0 2, 6 9 9
€ 2 3 6, 2 8 7 €236,287
WageInflation Inflation Wage
2.2. Zurich. Zurich.
€1 3 , 5 8 8 €€11333,5,58888
€PRIME € €COSTS €€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€ € 1. € € UK. €€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€ € 2. € € France. €€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€ € 3. € € Ireland. €€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€ € 4. € € Germany €€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€ € 5. € € Netherlands €€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€
RentInflation Inflation Rent
0 5.3% ,69 COSTS CONSTRUCTION CONSTRUCTION €€ €€€ € €25.3% €€ €€COSTS €€€€€ €€ € €€ €€€23€6,28€7 € € €€ € €€ €€€€€€€€€ € € €€ €€€€€€€8%€ € € €€ € €€ €€€€€€€€€ € € €€ €€€€€€€8%€ € € €€ € €€ €€€€€€€€€ € € €€ €€€€€€€ € € € €€ € €€ €€€€€€€€€ € € €€ €€€€€€€ € € € €€ € €€ €€€€€€€€€ € € €€ €€€€€€€ € € € €€ € €€ €€€€€€€€€ € € €€ €€€€€€€ € € € €€ € €€ €€€€€€€€€ € € €€ €€€€€€€ € € € €€ € €€ €€€ €€€€€€€ € € €€ €€€€€€€ € € € €€ € €€ €€1€3€,5€88€€€€ € € €€ €€€€€€€ € € € €€ € €€ €€€3.3% €€€€€€ € € €€ €€€€€€€ € € € €€ € €€ €€€3.3% €€€€€€ € € €€ €€€€€€€ € € € €€ € €€ €€€€€€€€€ € € €€ €€€€€€€ € € € €€ € €€ €€€€ €€Dublin. €Dublin. €3. € € € €€ €€€€€€€ € € € 3. € € € € € € € € € € € € € € € € €€ €€€€€€€ € € € Average wage is €38,000 the highest average mortgage is € € € € € € € € € € € € € € € € €€ €€€€€€€ € € € 13,588 average house price is €236,287 € € € €€ €€€€€€€€€ € € €€ €€€€€€€ € € €
INCOME V HOUSE PRICE INCOME V HOUSE PRICE
Wages are not increasing at the rate as house prices and Dublin is theare third expensive in as Europe buildand Prime costs soley relate to capital costs, th Wages notmost increasing at thecity rate housetoprices Dublin isafter therent third most expensive city in Europe to build after (ICM Survey) comparable to othe EU countries. London and Zurich rent
Average wage is €38,000 the highest average mortgage is Average wage is €38,000 the highest average mortgage is 13,588 average house price €236,287 Average wage is €38,000 andis average mortgage is €133,500 13,588 average house price isthe €236,287
average house price is €236,267. The average earner cannot afford the average house
London and Zurich (ICM Survey)
Construction costs alone in Ireland are co (ICM Survey) worldwide. Soft cost include professional fees, development contributions , VAT, taxes and the cost ofother EU countries. There is only a differe between the UK (highest) and the Nether is ranked most city to build ConstructionDublin cost refers to prime7th costs + softexpensive costs.
(Source: Irish Examiner, based on 3.5 times your salary - Central Bank lending rules)
10 % d e o si t € 3p 6,0 0 0
1, 0 0 0
€PRIME € €COSTS €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ € 1. € € UK. €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ € 2. € € France. €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ € 3. € € Ireland. €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ € € € €€9€,00€0 € € € € € €€3€24,€000€ € € € € 4. € € Germany €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ € 5. € € Netherlands €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ € € € €€31€5,0€00 € € € € € € € € € € € € required earnings
€CONSTRUCTION € € € € € COSTS €€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ € € € € € €3.€ Dublin. €€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ €€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€
Average Couple annual salary
cost of 2 bed apartment
Average Couple-mortgage +deposit
Source: Housing Agency. Comparison of Residential Construction Costs in Ir 03.2018
TAL DELI VE
site purchases brick and mortar co costs
The average couple earning an average wage cannot afford theis the third most expensive city in Europe to build Prime costs costs) are comparable with other Prime(capital costs soley relateintoIreland capital costs, these are Dublin average 2 bedroom flat (€361,000). EU countries. There only a difference of 9.7% between the UK comparable to is othe EU countries. after London and Zurich (ICM Survey) 10 % deposit First they require a 10% deposit (€36,00) and the max. mortgage (highest) and the Netherlands (lowest). (Source: Housing Agency) Construction costs alone in Ireland are comparable with Dublin is ranked 7th most expensive city to build they can borrow equates to €315,00 leaving a gap of €9,000. (Source: Goodbody Report)
worldwide. (ICM Survey)
other EU countries. There is only a difference of 9.7% between the UK (highest) and the Netherlands (lowest)
Source: Housing Agency. Comparison of Residential Construction Costs in Ireland to Other European Countries. 03.2018
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Why Suburbia, now?
OUR EXHIBITION and event programme intend to initiate a conversation about the current character and future potential of the most taken-for-granted form of residential development: suburbia. This dialogue between designers, developers and policy makers will inform our long-term thinking on suburban place-making and offers an opportunity to reflect on our past and current practice. We hope this will enable us to better anticipate and devise design-led responses to the challenges and opportunities facing suburban residents. This paper aims to act as a primer for these conversations about suburbia during our planned exhibition and round table, as well as acting to initiate more spontaneous dialogue within the new and existing networks that our programme will stimulate.
Calling Suburbia, Home Given the apparently relentless pace of urbanisation, why focus our attention on innovation in suburban development now?
Metropolitan Workshop was founded to foster genuine collaboration. We are grateful to the collaborators who confirmed their contribution to our programme at the time of going to print, including: Gus Zogolovitch (Solid Space), David Birkbeck (Design for Homes), Peter Freeman (Argent), Sarah Wigglesworth (Sarah Wigglesworth Architects), Vincent Lacovara (Enfield London Borough Council), Chris Langdon (Engie), Graham Cherry (Countryside Properties), Stephen Proctor (Proctor Matthews Architects), Shelagh Grant (Housing Forum), Dinah Bornat (ZCD Architects), Richard Partington (Studio Partington Architects), Jo McCafferty (Levitt Bernstein Architects) and Mark Latham (Urban Splash). We are confident that collaboration with this diverse range of experts will enhance the rigour and creativity of our project.
Using a broader definition of suburbia, the Smith Institute identifies that between 75% and 80% of homes in England can be found in suburban places.2 Suburbanisation is an inseparable part of broader trends towards urbanisation. Although the challenges and
The programme has enabled practitioners within Metropolitan Workshop to reflect on their formative and current experiences of suburbia and connect these experiences to their professional aspirations as designers. These accounts are presented in Stories of Suburbia, Suburbia Making Architects series (pp. 54-61) that can be found within the paper and demonstrate the diversity, social potential and challenges presented by suburbia. These accounts reflect our longterm commitment as a practice to reflecting on the suburban experience and will be complemented by contributions by expert practitioners involved in residential place-making as our programme progresses.
Quite simply, despite an increasing city centre population, most of the United Kingdom continues to live in suburban places. The Centre for Cities estimate that between 2001 and 2011 the suburban population of cities grew by 8 percent, and in 2015 the suburbs were home to 55 percent of total population of England and Wales. During this time those calling the city centre home accounted for a mere 1.6 percent of the population of England and Wales, and grew by 37 percent.1
Words by Neil Deely Co-founding Partner, Metropolitan Workshop with Dhruv Sookhoo
opportunities associated with housing that confront suburban residents are frequently overlooked by policy-makers relative to the attention paid to socio-economic and wellbeing issues affecting those living in urban centres. We feel that collective investment in improving the design, development and delivery processes that build and sustain suburban neighbourhoods has the potential to realise social value within residential places that most of the United Kingdom calls home. As architects and urban designers, we feel that focusing on new, innovative forms of suburban place-making offers us the best means of engaging with the intersecting challenges and potentials of the form of housing most common within the United Kingdom and increasingly across the Republic of Ireland.
Below: Somewhere in Suburbia - all too familiar... Opposite, top: Figure 2: Poster from Ian Nairn’s Subtopia, from June 1955. The striking similarity in the street scene from suburban roads in Southampton and Carlisle, some 400 miles apart. Opposite, middle: Figure 1a: Ebenezer Howard’s 3 magnets diagram which addressed the question ‘Where will the people go?’, with the choices ‘Town’, ‘Country’ or ‘Town-Country’. Opposite, bottom: Figure 1b: Diagram to illustrate the Garden City’s principle of correct city growth.
Defining Suburbia Despite the term suburb being notoriously difficult to define, commentators recognise a shared suburban identity as being part of our national psyche.4 This shared suburban culture is perhaps best understood through our common understanding of suburban places as represented through our popular culture and stereotypes,5-6 and related common assumptions about what constitutes suburbia and what it offers its residents. The social character and meaning of the suburbs have altered throughout history, from describing the suburban estates of aristocratic families during the 1650s, to the weekend villas of the professional classes of the 1700s, to the prototypical middle-class commuter suburbs of the early 1800s and the emergence of speculatively developed detached and semi-detached properties.7 The suburban form that we are most familiar with developed during the interwar period and its proliferation represents an attempt to democratise lifestyles previously unavailable to the working classes. Suburbia offered the healthier lifestyle of the imagined countryside, in combination, with ready access to employment through the increasingly affordable private and public transport (Figure 1a&b). While the processes of urban industrialisation simulated early exploration of the suburban condition by the more affluent, it was the political and professional advocacy within the inter-war period that saw the greatest expansion of suburbanisation across the United Kingdom.
The socio-economic imperatives associated with post-war reconstruction, the expansion of social housing provision and access to mortgages fuelled speculative private sector housing, saw the suburban context increasingly become the predominant domestic experience whether meeting the aspirations of owner-occupiers or council tenants.8 Regardless of tenure the basic suburban form adopted was characterised by the predominance of detached and semidetached standardised house types offering self-containment and privacy, situated within individual back gardens for private leisure and front gardens and drives promoting public display.9 This plot-based configuration produced an open landscape in striking contrast to previous closed streetscapes associated with urban development.10 Lower densities within suburbs afforded designers, developers and decision-makers to prescribe private and communal open space alongside planned communal amenities (e.g. schools and health care facilities) as part of a social programme to address the social imperatives of period. At its most heroic and far-sighted suburbia has been brought into being new ways of living, often finding inspiration in the principles of the Garden City Movement, and later New Town Movement.11-13 Where successfully planned, designed and realised suburbs, like Milton Keynes, have offered more sustainable models for housing growth and provided residents with relative affordability within a proactively planned context for employment, health, education and leisure.14
This dialogue between designers, developers and policy makers will inform our long-term thinking on suburban place-making and offers an opportunity to reflect on our past and current practice.
Neil Deely â€” Co-founding Partner, Metropolitan Workshop
This section is intended for the man-in-the-street, rather than for architects and planners, to whom the points it makes may seem over simplified, or over obvious. One reason for Subtopia is that nobody has bothered to indicate its effects in terms that the man-in-the-street can see as relevant, and the recommendations below are therefore Suburbia Proliferates The trying importance of the phrased in terms an architect would use if he were to sum up the argument to a A familiar configuration of slowly-evolving suburban housing market standard house types set within private layman. gardens appears in nearly every context: in the north and south, on village boundaries and by industrial estates, squeezed into infill sites and expanding over greenfield land. While the quality of suburbia may vary substantially, a hallmark of the development model is its apparent adaptability to almost every context. It is this ubiquity and apparent power to render previous places contextless that is so perturbing to critics of speculative suburbia. Since Nairn coined the term subtopia in 1955 to describe poorly designed post-war suburban estates critics have consistently identified poor quality suburbia is associated with ineffective planning decision-making, adoption of routine highway layouts, places with limited social amenities, tendency towards false historicism, arbitrary repetitions of standardised house types, variable build quality, and neighbourhoods that promote individualism rather than communality among residents (Figure 2).15 For residents, suburban housing may be compromised, but represents the only means of realising a home.
In England and Wales, the semi and detached properties that we tend to associate with suburban development contribute around 29% and 22.5% of existing homes. In 2017, 160,606 new homes were registered with the NHBC, with semi and detached properties accounting for 26% and 30% of the registrations respectively.3 However house builders frequently produce a narrowly targeted product focusing on early middle-aged parents. Other sectors of the market are growing and offering new opportunities: 1. â€˜Smaller householders who want a sociable lifestyleâ€™ First-time buyers New families Co-living renting
2. Later-living Demand for Later Living homes is not met and growing. On average another 220,000 households for those aged over 65 are added to demand every year. 9
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Suburban products must improve Despite a consumer preference for lower density living, the past design performance of suburban developments has been mixed relative to other forms of development. For example, in 2006, CABE undertook a systematic national housing audit to assess the quality of newly constructed houses in the UK. Building for Life criteria (2005) provided a means of assessment regardless of whether the scheme was developed in urban, suburban or rural contexts. CABE’s audit of the East and West Midlands and South West revealed that over half of new-build developments audited in the East Midlands were judged to be poor, with no scheme rated ‘good’ and only one ‘very good’. In the West Midlands, only 15% of schemes were rated ‘good’ or ‘very good’, with almost half rated ‘poor’ (Figure 3).16 At the end of CABE’s national audit only 4% of suburban projects were considered ‘good’, none were ‘very good’, and the lower density scheme type had the highest proportion of ‘poor’ schemes at 43%.
Above: The homestead at Campbell Park North, Milton Keynes
Urban schemes outperformed suburban projects due to provision of local services and public transport, but also over factors well within the remit of the development team, such as producing a distinctive architectural character, creating homes with well proportioned interiors and situating homes in site specific, well considered landscaping. CABE also identified that urban sites were likely to provide design teams with increased constraints, such as a need to respond to existing, rectilinear street patterns and avoiding inefficient, curved road layouts associated with suburbia. Urban contexts were also perceived to provide less opportunity for the use of poorly conceived generic house types, because site constraints necessitated the use specific, architect designed solutions.
Figure 3: Suburban, lower density schemes are outperformed by urban schemes across the country (CABE 2006).
Very Good Good
Rural 0% 0% 71% 29%
Very Good Good Average Poor
Suburban 0% Very Good 4% Good 52% Average 43% Poor
Urban 8% 8% 46% 38%
Very Good Good Average Poor
Gauging the Quality of Suburbia While developers may incrementally develop powerful, working insights into what consumers within local markets prefer or will accept based on experience, a limited and fragmented evidence-based approach makes understanding current consumers perspectives on the design quality and building quality of suburban development at the national level difficult to gauge. Audits by experts on the pass performance of new suburban developments relative to other forms of development across a range of design criteria supports the position that poor quality suburban development is endemic .
twice as many consumers preferred older properties (47%) than new build homes (21%). Where new build is a preference the presence of a warranty to cover potential construction issues is highly valued, as is the perception of relative energy efficiency. Although consumer preference for older or newer properties are complex, Home Owners Alliance assert consumer perspective for older homes relates to the perspective among buyers that new homes lack character, are smaller and poorly constructed.18 These finding are borne out by regular media coverage questioning the size, robustness and value of the standard suburban product conflated with issues of aesthetics and taste.
At a fundamental level, the build quality of housing produced by speculative homebuilders is under increasing scrutiny by politicians, policy-makers and consumer groups. While homebuilders regularly report favourable, improving results through the annual HBF and NHBC National New Home Customer Satisfaction Survey, this is in contrast with the perspectives of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment identified unacceptable levels of reported defects reported for new build properties 1n 2015.17 Likewise, The Home Owners Alliance identified that the quality of homes was increasingly a concern for consumers, with those saying poor quality was a serious concern increasing from 52% to 57% between 2014 and 2018. In 2017, the same consumer group identified more than
While consumer dissatisfaction relating to more qualitative issues of proposed and built projects are difficult to capture with certainty, what is clear from the mass consumption of architecture lifestyle television programmes and press, is that there is an interest in alternative, contemporary forms of housing. It would be reasonable to assume that the consumers of design-fuelled lifestyle media are current or future housing consumers with increased awareness of the potential of residential development yet confronted with the same, standardised products. Evidence of an untapped demand for a new response to housing market is perhaps best demonstrated by the successful sales rates and profitability of the few forward-looking developers currently driving quality and innovation within suburban development.
The Social Potential of Suburbia. Suburbia emerged from a radical social agenda, the forms of suburban development we are most familiar with today are nearly dislocated from the most progressive social aspirations and professional intent of early advocates of the suburban form. Our mainstream suburban product that constitutes most of new build housing under construction in the United Kingdom, and much existing housing stock, is now most readily associated with unimaginative, speculative development of poor design, compromised build quality and without regard for long-term maintenance. Despite this apparent banality of much suburban development and the pervasive, long-standing anti-suburbanism of urban-orientated intellectuals, the suburbs have been chosen and benefited successive generations from very different classes and ethnic groups.19 While suburbia does not guarantee social equality and affordability, the adaptability of the typology appears to offer a commonly accepted basis for a range of lifestyles that the city and countryside perhaps may not. The popularity and apparent flexibility of the semi-detached house, the typology most associated with suburbia, testifies in no small part to the long-term appeal and potential adaptability of suburban homes. 20 The suburban form that developed and proliferated in the interwar period may have done much to meet the challenges and opportunities confronting past generations. But how are these suburban places serving their residents? The apparent sameness of suburban developments has potential to mask differences between the potential of the basic suburban form to offer radically different opportunities for its residents based on a range of associated socio-economic factors and physical characteristics. So, while the suburban format is quintessentially part of the national character, commonly held stereotypes about the sameness of suburban life tend to obscure the rich cultural differences between suburban places, and their relative potential to enrich our lives.21 The basic suburban format that provides a home through standardised house types situated within a garden for private leisure, offers the concept of home most familiar to population at large, but has very different social potentials depending on its relationship to other everyday aspects of domestic life (e.g. affordable transport enabling access to education and employment, opportunities for communal activities for health and wellbeing)22. Fundamentally, the same suburban model of development that has remained largely unchanged since its post-war proliferation, has potential to create communities that thrive or struggle based on the social and economic opportunities they afford23.
Manchester, there is evidence of suburban decline linked to reducing opportunities for employment, reduced provision for public housing and welfare, and reduced housing affordability.24 This is part of a trend that is increasingly seeing growing social inequality between urban centres and their suburbs. The marginalisation of suburban residents and places calls for a suburban renaissance by reconnecting our suburbs to the opportunities of urban centres and rural communities in a more sustainable way. 25 While the work of architects alone cannot overcome these challenges, we feel that linking the design process and its outcomes more proactively to planning, development, construction and management processes that create and maintain our suburban places may provide a means of re-injecting some of the social purpose that originally drove previous generations of placemakers to promote suburbia in the first place. Interwar suburbia was designed to accommodate and promote the idea of the nuclear family and reflect early 20th century lifestyles. The communities it served were not particularly mixed by household or tenure when home ownership was the ambition for the rising middle classes. Now, with household sizes shrinking and with a growing ageing population (Figure 4), models of suburban living that more accurately reflect society, as it is today, must be discovered.
Figure 4; The UK population is ageing – around 18.2% were 65 or older at mid-2017, compared with 15.9% in 2007. This percentage is projected to grow to 20.7% by 2027. (ONS)
The Architect in Suburbia How should architects support their clients to anticipate and respond to the needs and aspirations of housing consumers in suburban housing? It may seem obvious, but being present within the development process that realises suburban developments is key. A defining characteristic of mass market housing is the absence of the architect in the design, development and delivery of suburban neighbourhoods and the house types that form the basis of the developers’ offer to their customers.26 While critics of homebuilders identify the absence of directly employed architects within their organizational structures as a cause of poor design quality, there is evidence for the withdrawal of architects from speculative, mainstream mass suburban housing at the professional level during the interwar period. Suburbia represents a challenge for architects, requiring skills and attributes to work within a development process that emphasises design and build quality through intelligent standardisation and choice, rather than restricted production for one off solutions. Metropolitan Workshop counts itself among the architect’s practices working today with the specialist housing expertise and values to support clients realize speculative residential projects capable of extending their offer within existing markets and creating new markets by successfully anticipating consumers demands. A New Kind of Suburbia represents an investment by our practice in the exploration of new models of suburbia by reflecting on our models of thought, their translation into built projects within the suburban context and entering into a critical discussion about how we can support developer-clients, residents and stakeholders to adapt the existing model of suburban development to address emerging issues in the housing market through better design and construction.
1. Elli Thomas, Ilona Serwicka and Paul Swinney, Urban demographics Why people live where they do. (London: Centre for Cities, 2015). 2. Paul Hackett, Housing and Growth in Suburbia (London: Smith Institute, 2009). 3. NHBC., New Home Statistics Annual Review 2017 (NHBC: London, 2017). 4. Peter Hall, ‘Introduction’, in Housing and Growth in Suburbia, ed. by Paul Hackett, Housing and Growth in Suburbia (London: Smith Institute, 2009), pp.3-6. 5. Rupa Huq, Making Sense of Suburbia through Popular Culture (London: Bloomsbury, 2013). 6. Vesna Goldsworthy, ‘Suburban identity’, in Housing and Growth in Suburbia, ed. by Paul Hackett, Housing and Growth in Suburbia (London: Smith Institute, 2009), pp.7-14. 7. J.W.R Whitehand and C.M.H. Carr, Twentieth-Century Suburbs: A Morphological Approach (London: Routledge, 2001). 8. Robert Stern, David Fishman and Jacob Tilove, Paradise Planned: the Garden Suburb and the Modern City (New York: The Monacelli Press, 2013). 9. Alison Ravetz and Richard Turkington, The Place of Home: English Domestic Environments, 1914-2000 (London: E&FN Spon, 1995). 10. J.W.R Whitehand and C.M.H. Carr., p1. 11. Stephen Ward, The Peaceful Path: Building Garden 12. Cities and New Towns, (Hatfield, Hertfordshire: University of Hertfordshire Press, 2016). 12. Sarah Rutherford, Garden Cities (London: Shire Publications, 2014). 13. Kate Henderson, Katy Lock and Hugh Ellis, The Art of Building a Garden City: Designing New Communities for the 21st Century (London: RIBA Publishing, 2017). 14. Anthony Alexander, Britain’s New Towns: Garden Cities to Sustainable Communities (London, Routledge, 2009). 15. Ian Nairn, Outrage (London: Architectural Press, 1956). 16. Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. Housing Audit. (2011) <https://webarchive. nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110118104336/http://www.cabe. org.uk/housing/audit> [accessed: February 2019, archived content]. 17. All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment, More Homes, Fewer Complaints: Report from the Commission of Inquiry into the quality and workmanship of new housing in England (London: APPG for Excellence in the Built Environment/ Construction Industry Council, 2016). 18. Home Owners Alliance, The Homeowner Survey 2015: Issues, trends and how we feel about our homes (London: Home Owners Alliance, 2015). 19. Mark Clapson, ‘The suburban aspiration in England since 1919’., Contemporary British History, 14(1), (2000), 151-173. 20. Neil Deely, ‘Semi-detached’., in The Housing Design Handbook: A Guide to Good Practice ed. by David Levitt and Jo McCafferty (London: Routledge, 2018). 21. Goldsworthy, pp.8-9. 22. Hackett. 23. Yolande Barnes, ‘Suburban property markets’, in Housing and Growth in Suburbia, ed. by Paul Hackett, Housing and Growth in Suburbia (London: Smith Institute, 2009), pp.37-44. 24. Paul Hunter, Urban towards a suburban renaissance: an agenda for our city suburbs (London: Smith Institute, 2016). 25. Ben Kochan, Achieving a Suburban Renaissance: the policy challenges (London: TCPA/ Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2007). 26. Colin Davies, The Prefabricated Home (London: Reaktion Books, 2005) .
For many suburbia is synonymous with the promise of home ownership, associated forms of consumerism and an improving, independent quality of life regardless of tenure. However, in many metropolitan suburbs such as London, Birmingham and 11
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
The Homestead The homestead creates a high quality suburban housing development, by offering shared amenity, enabling the adoption of the latest construction approaches and allowing more flexibility to suit local communities. Metropolitan Workshop’s approach to suburbia aims to foster greater social opportunities for new residents and strengthen the sense of identity of existing neighbourhoods, while achieving considerably greater density than the traditional suburban development models.
THERE IS A PERFECT STORM in UK housing: limited supply, high prices, low wages. The percentage of 25-34 year-olds who own a home has fallen from 60% to 38% between 1981 and 20161. The prospect of home ownership for today’s younger generation is bleak. Understandably this has given rise to alternative forms of household tenure, most notably private rent which as has risen from 25% in 2006 to 47% by 2016 (Office for National Statistics). The UK population is ageing – around 18.2% were 65 or older at mid-2017, compared with 15.9% in 2007. This percentage is projected to grow to 20.7% by 20272. A standard suburban house designed for the nuclear family is unsuited to the requirements of later living. Homes must be adaptable to ensure people can live independently, happily and for longer in a familiar environment. Conventional suburban layouts and tenure, favoured by housebuilders, responding to outdated planning policy, maximise private space within a mix of home types skewed in favour of large detached and semidetached family homes. These are often arranged in a confusing and inefficient street pattern. Speculative private developments are commonly stand-alone and have poor connection to context and existing neighbourhood centres. As a result the car and highway dominate the street scene with a disproportionate amount of the site covered in hard surfaces. Our ideas for a new suburbia challenge that approach. We want to see a new housing 12
model that is more efficient and flexible, with a dramatic improvement in the quality of public realm. Our objective is to provide, through design, places with real opportunities for residents to develop a strong sense of belonging and neighbourhood; creating stable communities that promote a greater sense of shared ethos and mutual identity. A different, desirable alternative that will re-balance the generational divide in home-ownership and foster a better sense of community stewardship: a new sustainable and adaptable model for suburbia that supports more people. We have designed, as the basic building block of our new suburbia, the homestead. This provides a flexible framework, a unit of development, like a small city block, which provides a variety of homes in various forms arranged around a shared green space with smaller squares, courts and yards to control privacy and offer opportunities for interaction. Cars are pushed to the periphery of the homestead with streets that have shared surfaces prioritising pedestrians and accessibility. The homestead allows greater density (up to 75 homes per hectare or with relaxed parking provision over 100 dph) compared to traditional suburban housing (around 20 homes per hectare normally) whilst still providing generous communal amenity set within a clear grid that can be tessellated changed and adapted - to respond to varying sites. And within a phased development, the homestead can also be made to respond to changing market trends, mix and tenure demands by adapting individual components.
Twentieth Century suburbia was about home ownership, the nuclear family, house with garden, and car ownership Twenty-first Century suburbia is experiencing a demographic shift to many smaller households who are renting, cannot afford to live centrally, but seek an exciting sociable lifestyle – our ideas explore what a new offer could be for them.
David Prichard — Metropolitan Workshop
1. ONS. UK Private Rented Sector: 2018 (London: Office of National Statistics, 2019). 2. ONS. Overview of the UK population: November 2018 (London: Office of National Statistics, 2018), p.2. Right: Shared garden within the Engie Homestead
A settlement is simply a means by which men or women may share themselves with their neighbours.
Henrietta Barnett, 1898 â€” English social reformer, educationist, and author. Worked to establish the model Hampstead Garden Suburb in the early 20th century.
PROSPECTS #01 â€” A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Principles The homestead provides a residential framework that can be successfully applied to different site contexts and a range of client briefs to provide greater densities within an ethos that strives for higher quality living through design-led development processes.
Character The character of our schemes develop from the unique nature of the existing context. Our proposals aim to enrich the distinctiveness of existing landscapes, the structure of existing building structures and enhance the setting of neighbouring buildings. Layouts should respond to historic views and assets. Use of local materials with a constrained palette will reinforce local identify. Development should engage with existing green and blue infrastructure, maintaining mature trees and existing waterways wherever possible. Variety A diverse range of homes for every type of resident that can be easily adapted or to respond to growing families or changing needs. A variety of sizes and living formats that allow an innovative tenure mix which means more quality homes for all ages and pockets. Buildings that are exciting and vibrant places to live in with generous shared landscape and public realm that promotes healthier and more cohesive communities. A fully inclusive environment that supports all ages â€“ a neighbourhood for long-term living. Variety in building types and architectural design providing more diverse and characterful streets. Neighbourly New neighbourhoods that maintain an appropriate scale to ensure residents take ownership of shared amenity and form close-knit communities that last. Neighbourhoods that meet local housing demand and create the distinctive places that homeowners seek. 14
Opportunities for chance encounters, such as pairing of front doors and shared landscapes and spaces to support summer fetes and street parties, for example, at all scales together creating more sociable neighbours and communities. Ownership If residents feel engaged with their environment, they are more likely to take ownership of it. Increased variety in tenure beyond traditional private ownership accentuates a sense of ownership, maintaining longer term tenants who are invested in their home and community. A programme of regular interactive amenity, such as growing spaces and hobby pavilions, is one way to achieve this, as well as opportunities for future residents to personalise homes from simple gestures like offering choice of front door colours and provision of window planter boxes, to more substantial customisation with the introduction of modular build systems allowing greater choice in regards to layouts, additions and cladding (all options still working with an agreed design code). Prioritised public realm and integrated landscape Generous shared landscape and public realm will support more cohesive communities supporting all ages. A neighbourhood for long-term living encouraging healthy lifestyles with easy access to local services and facilities, plentiful green amenity for gardening and growing food. Shared spaces that will be overlooked, offering children the freedom to play and explore their environment. A legible street pattern that prioritises the pedestrian and cyclist with defined and direct routes to local neighbourhood centres and services will promote more active lifestyles.
Within a larger development made up of several Homesteads, each can have its own landscape character and amenity use, from formal gardens to meadows to productive allotments and the overall landscape habitat can accommodate more structured recreational amenity such as playgrounds for children to more incidental landscape elements such as dwell space for the elderly. All promoting the cross-fertilisation of homestead residents and inclusion of all demographics. Sustainable and connected communities Thoughtful integration of renewable energy and smart technology in the home and site-wide is essential to optimise energy use. Using the latest energy technology will create healthier places to live and more responsible developments that help sustain our environment. Public transport infrastructure will be designed so connections to bus stops or train stations are easily accessible. In most cases the introduction of sustainable infrastructure can have a positive impact within wider landscape proposals, adding to the aesthetic and environmental value of a place. For example integrating urban drainage into the landscape can also provide destinations for social activities and interaction. Innovation Modern methods of construction, where appropriate, can allow a higher quality of home to be built in a more time efficient and cost effective way. Opportunities for off-site manufacture can ensure a more sustainable construction process, requiring less heavy machinery energy and within in a controlled and process led factory environment create
less wastage with less labour required. With a well-planned delivery programme construction sites can be smaller and create less disruption to nearby residents. Selection of appropriate materials facilitated by modern build systems and inclusion of renewable and smart technology within homes will reduce both there carbon footprint and running costs. The creation of a new modern suburban aesthetic, with greater flexibility in layout and future adaptability, impossible to achieve on a traditional building site, will appeal to the next generation of pioneering suburban residents. Fit for purpose Within the homestead the infrastructure needs to accommodate the day-to-day and infrequent activity of the street: delivery drivers dropping off parcels; taxi drivers picking up and dropping off and access for emergency service vehicles through the day, evening and night. Parking must work to minimise visible car presence and traffic, with most parking pushed to the edge of the homestead beside its surrounding primary roads. Waste storage provision must be easily accessed but not impact on the street scene. Cycle storage should encourage use. Each home will have its own cycle storage that is accessible and safe.
Four environments: 1. Parking and transport 2. Green Streets 3. Communal gardens and yards 4. Private patios
Above: The Engie Homestead
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Designing for Play
Words by Dinah Bornat Co-director of ZCD Architects
Play is a fundamental aspect of a healthy society; it’s what children do naturally as their ‘default activity’1 and has other wider social benefits. Play is defined as ‘freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated’, which essentially means that it should happen when, where and how a child chooses and that it should be neither organised for them nor supervised by others.
SINCE CHILDREN spend most of their spare time at home, the spaces in their local neighbourhood are the most crucial for supporting play. For a number of varied and complex reasons, however, the numbers of children able to play outside has dropped significantly over the last generation.2 In Harrow, for example, of those that use the borough’s play spaces, only a quarter visit at least every two weeks and provision for teenage children is seen as poor.3 The consequences are huge; from rising obesity levels to child development issues such as mental health and other physical and social problems. When looked at from a positive point of view, providing a built environment that gives children the opportunity, and indeed the right, to play safely has many potentially positive outcomes. Understanding how children play Extended observation is the key to understanding how children and the rest of the community use space and forms the basis of our research into ten recently completed housing estates in England.4 This and previous observational work,5 suggests that a network of car-free, shared spaces that are well overlooked and accessible from dwellings create the best condition for social use of space and the safest environment for children of all ages to play and get about safely. Play is also a social activity; what Jan Gehl calls a ‘self reinforcing process’6; in other words children attract other children who attract other children. Documenting the diversity of activities We’ve worked with the photographer Madeleine Waller to illustrate what is possible when play happens close to home. Waller’s photographs, taken over the period of one year, document the rich variety of activities that can take place in a successfully planned neighbourhood; children playing quiet 16
imaginary games, football and cycling, parents engaging in incidental conversations, organised parties, barbecues and firework displays. Our research has found that providing for unsupervised play is the key to creating successful places. We have found that places which have more children playing outside independently tend to be used more by other members of the community, leading us to suggest that children are the generators of community life. Play begins close to home Current play strategies apply a rather crude, tick box approach, asking for dedicated play spaces within maximum walking distances from front doors; 100m for under 5s and 400m for 5 to 12s. More often this will require adult accompaniment and supervision, which tends to reduces children’s playtime and also restricts their ability to take calculated risk, itself an essential part of healthy play. Play needs to begin close to home, in order for children to get to know their own neighbourhood:
When children are very young they test independence and will want to play outside, but within sight and sound of their parent or carer. For example on their doorstep or in shared communal space. As they grow older and gain confidence they will want to be able to visit friends in the same street or close by. Young people should be able to access spaces further away, such as open spaces and recreational facilities. Harrow has an abundance of green open spaces for all age groups to enjoy, although mainly concentrated in the north east of the borough. Older children and young people should grow up finding these spaces easy to visit so that they are well used and loved throughout their lifetimes.
This extract was originally published within Harrow Better Design (2017). Dinah Bornat is co-director of ZCD Architects. The practice is passionate about socially inclusive architecture and urban design and has published ‘Housing design for community life’ in 2016 and ‘Neighbourhood design, working with children towards a child friendly city’ in 2019. Both use observational techniques to better understand how children use space. Neighbourhood design is a more detailed study, which involved local children and has led to the Mayor of Hackney’s manifesto commitment to becoming a child friendly borough. ZCD Architects are delivering quality engagement programmes on strategic and major projects, that aim to bridge the gap between child and young people’s lived experience and built environment objectives. Dinah is an expert on child friendly cities, a Mayor’s Design Advocate for the Mayor of London, a design review panel member of Harrow and Hounslow Councils and works with a number of local authorities across the country.
1. Voce, A. (2015) “Policy for Play” London: Policy Press 2. Shaw, B., Bicket, M., Elliott, B., Fagan-Watson, B., & Mocca, E (2015) “Childrens Independent Mobility: an international comparison and recommendations for action”. London: Policy Studies Institute. Hifiman, M., Adams, J, & Whitelegg, J, (1990) “One False Move”. London: Policy Studies Institute. 3. London Borough of Harrow “Open Space, Sport & Recreation Study” (2011) 4. “Bornat, 0(2016) “Housing Design for Community Life” London: ZCD Architects 5. Biddulph, M (2011) “The impact of innovative designs on activity in residential streets” School of City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University. Wheway A,, and Millward, A,, (1997) “Childs Play: Facilitating play on housing estates” The Joseph Rowntree Association and Chartered Institute of Housing. 6. Gehl, J (2011). “Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space”
The characteristics of the environment where we live influence our lifestyles and daily experiences, contributing significantly to our health and wellbeing. Low-density living and a lack of good community facilities are associated with increased social isolation and a lack of appealing green space reduces levels of physical activity and mental wellbeing.
NHS Healthy New Towns — Network Prospectus 2017
Opposite: Photographic series capturing children at play within the Crown Estate, London 2018. Photography by Madeleine Waller www.madeleinewaller.com
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Origins Metropolitan Workshop has developed the homestead concept over several years. Its application to various sites provides opportunities to establish greater density, shared amenity, innovative homes types, mix and tenure, with each site seen as an opportunity to establish new flexibility and features that are transferable to the next.
THE HOMESTEAD originates from our winning entry to the RIBA/Wates Private Rented Sector competition in 2013. Our submission, developed with Sir Richard MacCormac, addressed current housing issues with a simple concept that reconfigured a suburban PRS (Private Rented Sector) development to provide a range of homes in a denser layout using a flexible dwelling typology. Our alternative approach adopted a more rational, orthogonal layout based on a new suburban block – the homestead. The homestead allowed us to design higher quality suburban housing developments that deliver improved efficiency and considerably greater densities and shared amenity compared to traditional house builder layouts. Whilst conventional suburbia maximises private space, our design provided space in radically different ways: retail and workspaces to link with neighbouring communities, encouraging social inclusion; communal gardens, allotments and orchards, for recreation and biodiversity; and the neighbourhood park, a twenty-first century village green promoting sharing and healthy lifestyles, recreation, sculpture trails, swales and ponds, crèche, allotments. Traditional streets were replaced by landscaped courts – routes separated by a shared garden, accommodating offstreet parking at its edges, with orchards and opportunities for play and communal
growing. These made attractive addresses lending a distinct identity to each homestead and act as a gateway to surrounding countryside with wildlife and jogging trails. The homestead has formed the basis of our thinking for several distinct projects in a variety of contexts in the past five years, demonstrating the concept’s flexibility. At Mayfields (pp.20-21), a proposal for a new market town in rural Sussex, the structure of the historic Wealden farmsteads - the organisation of the farmhouse and outbuildings around a central yard with peripheral working fields - informed the development of the Wealden homestead. This appropriated the traditional layout and scale of buildings and hierarchy of spaces and applied it to a residential use, employing an architectural language and palette of materials sympathetic to the Wealden vernacular, creating new, inclusive communities embedded in the rural context. At Oakfield in Swindon (pp.28-29) - the first housing project to be delivered by Nationwide Building Society – we have used the homestead concept, creating a collegial layout of new interchangeable home types arranged around a neighbourhood park, that allow greater variety in mix and tenure, and accommodate the requirements of all generations - from singles, first-time buyers, families and later living.
Right: The homestead for Wates/RIBA Ideas for the Private Rented Sector competition. Opposite: Sequence of shared landscapes within the Wates/RIBA Ideas Homestead.
Suburban Ideal In 2013, we collaborated with the late Sir Richard MacCormac to channel our housing research to create a winning entry to the Wates/RIBA Ideas for the Private Rented Sector competition.
20TH CENTURY suburbia was about the car, a garden and a nuclear family. 21st Century suburbia must be about accommodating the shift to many smaller households who are obliged to rent, who cannot afford, or do not wish to live centrally, but who want an exciting, sociable urban lifestyle. Our concept reconfigured suburban PRS development to provide a range of homes in a denser layout using a flexible home typology arranged in a new suburban unit known as the homestead. The efficiency of our concept delivers more amenity space compared to conventional schemes, to foster a closer-knit community.
An exemplary piece of research and enquiry providing a model scheme that masters density shifts, a range of flexible unit types and a balance of public, shared and private spaces to produce a scheme with a convincing sense of place. Development phasing and flexible investment models added depth to a proposal for a new suburban dream only available be renting.
Simon Allford â€” RIBA Adviser, on behalf of the Judging Panel 19
PROSPECTS #01 â€” A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
The Government attaches a great deal of importance to improving the design of homes and neighbourhoods. A core part of the mission is the commitment of both the Government and the Royal Institute of British Architects to building a bigger and better Private Rented Sector to help the country meet its housing needs and to raise standards in the sector. I believe these awards are an invaluable way of recognising and rewarding projects that set the standard for great architecture all across the country.
Kris Hopkins â€” Minister for Housing 20
The Homestead Layout – Improving Efficiency Traditional volume house builder layouts seek to maximise private space and off-road parking, often in the form of car courts. They also promote larger detached and semi-detached family homes arranged around curved streets.
Density 47dph 470 homes
25dph 250 homes
53dph 530 homes
Such layouts are confusing to navigate and ignore the housing needs of the community they serve. This approach is inflexible, creates inefficiency and an unnecessarily high proportion of site devoted to hard surface. By using terraces arranged orthogonally and promoting on-street parking, our Homestead based layouts change the breakdown of land-take in favour of promoting shared open space, increasing it from 18% to 44%. The improved efficiency enables us to achieve greater densities and offer more communal open space without compromising overlooking distances. Public Realm – Shared Landscapes The Homestead terraces front landscaped gardens which can connect to green belt edges. Landscaped gardens create attractive addresses lending a distinct identity to each Homestead, with orchards and opportunities for play and communal growing. These ‘green fingers’ lead to and bring in the surrounding countryside with wildlife and jogging trails.
16% – 2P1B Apts 13% – 4P3B Houses
37% – 6P3B Houses 34% – 5P4B Houses
56% – 2P1B Apts 19% – 4P2B Houses 15% – 4P3B Houses
5% – 6P3B Houses 5% – 5P4B Houses
53% – 2P1B Apts 22% – 4P2B Houses 15% – 4P3B Houses
Collegial Courts Hard-landscaped courts create a focal point at one end of the Homestead, overlooked by adjacent homes. Smaller householder, old or young, will appreciate opportunities to socialise, so there is an emphasis on shared entries.
T1 Multi-Gen House 12P8B (240m2)
T2 3 Houses 2x 6P3B (100m2) 1x 4P2B (76m2)
T4 6 Apts 2x 2P1B (50m2) 4x 1P1B (38m2)
T-House Flexibility – Repetition, Efficiency & Variety This idea offers opportunity to flex the mix of occupancies and density within the same two-storey envelopes – ‘dial-a-density’ – ensuring any scheme can be attuned to local need and market demand at the time of delivery, without changing the layout or massing. Houses can be easily adapted to maisonettes which means tenants can move within the scheme maintaining community bonds, reducing voids, redecoration costs and enhancing rental income.
The T-shaped envelope can provide four 1-bed flats plus one 2-bed house; or six 1-bed maisonettes; or two 3-bed houses and on 2-bed house; or one multi-generational home.
Communal Yards These are the most intimate spaces, used by clusters of homes. Private back gardens overlook the communal yard which provide safe play and a shared social life – BBQs and edible landscape, bike stores and hobby huts.
5% – 6P3B Houses 5% – 5P4B Houses
T5 3 Apts & 1 House 3x 4P2B (80m2) 1x 4P2B (76m2)
Opposite, top: Illustrative Site Plan for Wates/RIBA Ideas for the Private Rented Sector competition. Opposite, bottom: Room with a view - living in the homestead
METROPOLITAN PAPERS 01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Shared Landscape & Neighbourhood Park The shared landscape offered by the homestead operates at graduated scales: from streets, squares, greens and courts that offer a focus for each cluster, and the neighbourhood park generated by the whole. This approach to scale offers a tailored response to existing context and the needs of residents now and in the future.
The neighbourhood park is a shared landscape environment. Within larger developments, along with the Homestead greens and gardens , each landscape can take on their own distinct character and type of amenity provided, with a diverse offer fostering a more integrated community.
Suggested shared amenity: 1. Recreation 2. Sculpture Trails 3. Swales and ponds 4. Crèche 5. Allotments 6. Formal gardens 7. Orchards 8. Play spaces 9. Local Shops 10. Meadow gardens
Right: Neighbourhood park and themed shared landscapes from illustrative Engie homestead framework. Opposite, Left: Lime Tree Square - FCB Studios. Centre left: Accordia - Grant Associates. Centre right: Wohnanlage - Zanderroth Architekten. Right: Great Kneighton - Proctor Matthews Architects
The Neighbourhood Park: Community centre for all homesteads The neighbourhood park acts as the heart of the development promoting sharing and healthy lifestyles, reinforcing its local identity, embedding the scheme into the existing neighbourhood and context. The park would accommodate larger communal amenities such as recreation pitches, crèches, allotments and local shops on its edges. It would also be the focus for schools and a larger high street if the size of the site dictated.
The Street: Public thoroughfare serving the homestead
The Square: Shared public realm for residents
The Green: Shared green space for homestead residents
Gardens & Yards: Private external space for homes
Streets designed for the prevalence of pedestrians and cyclists. Highway access is direct but subordinate within the street scene.
The square is the place where residents gather. Through everyday meetings as well as big occasions such as summer fetes and street parties.
The green or shared garden is an ecologically rich and biodiverse landscape with dense planting and lawns bounded by mixed beds of grasses, bulbs, flowering shrubs and herbaceous species for year round form and colour. These spaces are also for safe children’s play and for residents to grow their own food.
Each home will have dedicated private amenity as well as access to a number semiprivate external spaces, creating a protected retreat from the more public spaces and smaller sociable neighbourhood clusters.
Key features: Shared surfaces – connecting public realm and prioritising pedestrians and cyclists Prioritised active travel – designated pedestrian and cycle routes to local neighbourhood centres and public transport connections Discreet parking – visual impact reduced through landscape Places to dwell – opportunities for chance encounters with familiar faces, helping to nurture communities Planting – Trees to enliven street scene and heavily planted defensible space and front gardens to create a pleasant environment
Key features: Events facilities – pavilions equipped with infrastructure such as power and water Play spaces - from designated zones with equipment to more ad-hoc opportunities for imaginative exploration Incorporation of existing features – such as heritage assets or mature landscape can bring specific character to a space
Key features: Diverse planting – trees, hedges, shrubs, climbing plants and ground cover species, chosen to suit the site and provide an invigorating environment for residents and wildlife. Recreation – play equipment for young children as well as inviting landscape elements for incidental play Growing – designated planters and sheds for residents to grow own seasonal fruit and vegetables
Key features: Front gardens - are large enough to create a privacy buffer and allow personal expression Back gardens – overlooking the homestead green ideal for al-fresco dining in summer with low level boundary planters so residents can control their desired level of privacy through selective planting Balconies - ensure every home benefits from valuable outdoor amenity and enviable views from valuable outdoor amenity
PROSPECTS #01 â€” A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Market Forces A vision for Mayfields that reflects on its past to deliver a new kind of rural settlement - a new market town. A place with the charm and character of a village, and the life, creativity and culture of a thriving town.
MAYFIELDS is a vision for a new market town in mid Sussex which will provide homes for 20,000 people, formed of a number of typologies of self-sufficient, walkable, neighbourhoods surrounding an urban centre which will be flexible enough to provide a wide variety of densities whilst adapting to the existing landscape features. Traditional Wealden ‘farmsteads’ – small clusters of buildings that make up the farms found in the Weald – are the inspiration for this development of the homestead typology where a variety of adaptable homes – apartments, semi-detached, detached, and terraced houses – echo the traditional configuration of the farmhouse, the oasthouse, cattle sheds, barn, granary, and stables, clustered round a central working yard. The Wealden Homestead remains highly flexible; able to accommodate a wide mix of home types within the same two or threestorey building cluster. They can include one and two-bed apartments, two, three and four-bed homes, and large multi-generation homes for larger families, which can be built efficiently using modern methods of construction. Buildings are of a domestic scale, two or three storey, with pitched, gabled and valley roofs, typical of traditional Weald homes and buildings, and employing architectural motifs and use of materials – wall hung tile and timber weatherboard, corbelled parapets and patterned masonry panels – that are familiar to the area. At Mayfields the homestead has been developed into four different configurations to provide a range of densities and grouping of sympathetic home types and external amenity spaces, some shared some private. These distinct models can provide a wide range of densities between 25dph and 75dph depending on their proximity to the urban centre, and the need to adapt to changing landscapes, orientation, and topology. They can be varied to suit any plot size, shape or landscape condition including existing ancient woodland, rivers, hedgerows, roads, and bridleways.
Mayfields provided an exciting opportunity to develop the homestead for a rural setting; one with its own pre-existing character of agricultural buildings, ancient woodland, hedgerows, lanes and bridleways. Working with a strong sense of place rooted in the Wealden landscape.
Jack Hughes— Project Architect
Opposite: Aerial of new denser neighbourhood, composed of groupings of homes, offering a variety of housing types separated by green public spaces. Right, top: Mayfields Site Plan. Right, centre left: Typical Sussex Weald Farmstead. Right, centre right: Traditional Weald roof styles. Right, bottom: View of new neighbourhood from river. Below: Weald vernacular provided inspiration for Mayfields materiality and architectural language.
Within the Homesteads, the central spaces – the working yard of the traditional farmstead - are highly versatile and can accommodate private gardens, communal yards or orchards, hard landscaped ‘collegial courtyards’, or a combination of these reflecting the changing mix of dwellings that enclose them. Working in the context of open countryside provided the opportunity to experiment with the idea of splitting the housing clusters in half to open the central courtyards out to the surrounding landscape. This forms a cultivated buffer on the edge of the settlement, breaking down the density of development at the edge, and creating fingers of open space that lead to and connect with the surrounding countryside with its wildlife and walking trails and bridleways.
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Density, Mix & Tenure The Homestead provides a flexible model. An interchangeable suite of house and villa typologies can be arranged to deliver a variety of density, mix and tenure within the same footprint.
THE HOMESTEAD is based on a grid street pattern. This allows the introduction of longer terraces that deliver greater density. Arrangement around a central shared space provides flexibility to introduce villas - small blocks of apartments - that can negotiate overlooking between the end terrace gables of the terraces.
spaces can be re-configured back into the shared landscape.
The villas, up to an appropriate scale (typically up to four storeys in a suburban location) can deliver more density and introduce greater choice in mix and tenure.
The three homestead axonometrics shown opposite are examples from Mayfields and show how a variety of housing typology can be arranged to vary density and mix.
By reducing the size of private gardens and reallocating the space to a shared central garden provides a more efficient footprint for each home, and for the homestead as a whole from both a resident’s and a developer’s point of view, while creating better neighbourhood benefits.
On larger sites with phased delivery, different arrangements of the homestead can be combined to create a variety of conditions. This allows each development to respond easily to changing market trends and demands in density, typology and tenure.
Breaks within the terraces allow secondary routes into the central garden and the opportunity to introduce different house types into the street, giving greater flexibility to respond to market demand and more variety and character to the street. A variety of house types and sizes and villa apartments can work around the shared landscape and accommodate a variety of tenures. Within the same homestead villas with one and two bed apartments can sit alongside houses ranging from two-bed starter homes up to large six-bed family homes. The homestead can easily support unbiased tenure mix and multi-generational living. Within the villas there is opportunity for more supported later living, extending the homestead’s demographic. The homestead supports a greater emphasis on active and public travel. Parking is also flexible and can be delivered within each homestead in peripheral bays, on-street and on-plot spaces and integrated garages so that it can respond to brief and local planning policy. All external parking is discreet, set within landscape with well-placed car club spaces. As car dependency reduces car 26
In a lower density homestead of houses (35dph), a car space to home ratio of 2:1 is achievable, whilst an apartment-led higher density homestead (up to 75dph) can deliver a ratio of 1:1.
The homestead framework can negotiate unusual geometries and boundary conditions, minimising effects to overall density as terraces run both vertically horizontally. Importantly boundary conditions provide constraints such as overlooking, sensitivity with existing built context, proximity to major roads or flood risk, the shared garden or yard can be extended to work as an effective intermediary.
Right: Three Mayfields homestead variations. Opposite: Cast model of Campbell Park Homestead.
Engie Homesteads with varying typologies illustrating flexibility in density, mix and tenure
C - 63 dph
A - 50 dph
Engie Homestead framework illustrating site wide flexibility in density and phasing
B - 57 dph
D - 69 dph
PROSPECTS #01 â€” A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Pioneering Places â€” Greening the Grid
Conclusion Our winning ideas for the Wates sponsored RIBA open competition in 2013 delivered an economic, flexible and sustainable approach for rented housing in suburbia. Our proposals were honed by dialogue with several industryleading professionals including June Barnes, Daniel Kaye and Alan Leibowitz. The collaboration with the late Sir Richard MacCormac developed his theories of sustainable suburbia exploring higher densities and rational, legible and efficient housing layouts. The challenge of the brief was to devise a new way of thinking about rented communities in locations on the edge of the green belt. Our response was 28
simple; flexible clusters of homes in convivial arrangements and a mix of typologies around shared, communal gardens and yards. We called it the homestead; orthogonal layouts that use land efficiently to prioritise green space by optimising land utilisation and density. These higher densities providing efficiencies in highways and infrastructure costs which can be reinvested in the quality of communal amenity and biodiverse green streets and spaces. Our proposals challenge the traditional approaches to car dominated layouts favoured by volume house builders. These principles are now being utilisied at Oakfield
in Swindon, for Nationwide Building Societyâ€™s first ever housing scheme of 239 homes and at Campbell Park North in Milton Keynes for Urban Splash to provide a new twenty first century residential development for the pioneering city. These projects will demonstrate the benefits of the homestead, and create a new and well integrated model of housing which can be replicated anywhere in the country to provide mixed tenure, diverse and socially sustainable suburban settlements. Our work on the homesteads has evolved though our work with Engie and on a proposals for a major new settlement
South Dublin. The Engie homestead embraces modular housing technologies and incorporates new smart and sustainable energy infrastructure. At Dublin Gateway, the city edge location provided the opportunity for the Homestead to negotiate between the suburban and urban scales with interchangeable gird squares that can provide higher densities with apartments buildings and villa typologies and larger neighbourhood centres.
Traditional Suburbia vs The Homestead Traditional suburban development 19 dph Low density Private external space maximised Cul-de-sac layout lacks communal focus, shared amenity and coherence Private sale only Middle aged family households High car ownership
The Engie Homestead 42 dph Mid density (35-75 dph) Terrace rows ordered around central green
with complimentary shared landscape
Multi-generational Supports diverse tenure and mix Legible street grid promoting active lifestyles
Highways & footpaths
Highways & footpaths
Above: Masterplan illustration, Campbell Park North, Milton Keynes
PROSPECTS #01 â€” A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Building Society Nationwide A new neighbourhood for Oakfield. An integrated mixed tenure community and the first homes developed by Nationwide.
PROJECT: Oakfield LOCATION: Swindon CLIENT:
Nationwide Building Society
Technical Design (RIBA Stage 4)
THE HOMES we have designed at Oakfield are seen as the catalyst for wider change in the neighbourhood, not merely as an end in themselves. The following principles have guided the project throughout its course: Society Building a mutually supportive community and neighbourhood from the outset, positively impacting communities beyond the red line of the project Diversity Meeting the aspirations of the widest range of households, including those under-served by the mainstream market Affordability Committing to the Council’s policy level of affordable housing, and providing a wide range of market homes to suit different lifestyles and stages Robustness Designing and building solid, comfortable homes which meet customer priorities, in a setting that is thoughtfully and properly managed in the longer term Transparency Demonstrating best practice in marketing, sales, lettings and aftercare processes
which integrate parking with footpaths and communal gardens therefore maximising permeability and accessibility. The use of carefully located buildings, planting and landscape are utilised to enclose, screen and reveal certain defined territories (a public square, a private garden, a busy road or a quiet passageway) which gives opportunities for pause, change of speed, direction or a sense of arrival. By creating these separated and legible places of enclosure, we can offer a deeper reading of the streets and parks that link them; a series of short journeys with a defined beginning and end. Expressing the relationships between the buildings and their adjacent open spaces, creates a neighbourhood with a palpable sense of identity. The development is designed to extend its positive influence beyond the site boundaries, improving the public realm around the shops, creating a new community hub near The Oakfield Project; a special education school located adjacent to the site, and helping to connect the surrounding communities to the local amenities and to each other along attractive new routes.
Replicability Breaking even and allowing other responsible organisations to follow the spirit and process of this project in their own localities. The scheme provides 239 homes with a mixture of tenures, suitable for local people at every stage of their life, from first time buyers, to families, to over 55s. The project aims to deliver a high-quality benchmark for housing, which challenges the approach of the traditional volume house builder. The economic arrangement of home types, forming terraces around communal courts, are designed to foster community spirit, and enable a higher proportion of the site to be devoted to soft landscape, even at high parking densities. The project has been developed through extensive consultation with the local community and in close dialogue with the council’s planning team. The conceptual framework for the development is based on creating a permeable and walkable new neighbourhood with a grid of streets and paths that respond to existing facilities: local shops, bus stops, walking and cycling routes, allotments and open green spaces, to facilitate the integration of the site with the surrounding area. By connecting existing cycle routes and providing well maintained attractive foot paths away from loud busy roads, we begin the process of making a place for all communities. New streets and parks can connect these neighbourhoods with valued local amenities. A single primary vehicular street connects Greenbridge Road and Marlowe Avenue. It feeds the dwellings via tertiary roads, which are designed to be over looked to allow for safe, pedestrian priority shared areas
I’m really encouraged by the emerging architecture, it will heavily contribute towards creating a strong sense of place and a distinctive identity for the future community that will live here. This would set an exemplary design standard for the rest of our major housing development across the Borough.
Peter Garitsis BAS, MCPUD — Urban Designer & Masterplanner, Swindon Borough Council
Opposite: Illustrative view from the street. Above, top: Illustrative view from neighbourhood green. Above, bottom: Oakfield Site Plan. Right: Masterplan Strategy - re-established links to local centre and green corridors to existing parks.
PROSPECTS #01 â€” A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Dunville Close A terrace of 20 family homes has been designed to occupy a tight backland site. Surrounded on all sides by protected structures the house types on this new street are a direct response to the local context.
PROJECT: Dunville Close LOCATION: Ranelagh, Dublin CLIENT:
METROPOLITAN WORKSHOP were commissioned to investigate the provision of new homes on a former light industrial site in Ranelagh, Dublin. The extremely sensitive back land site is surrounded on all 4 sides by protected residential structures. Context The constraints of the site and grain of the surrounding streets has informed a linear proposal of houses along a shared surface street. The main access to the site is via an existing laneway off the main terraced street. The site backs onto another laneway which offers rear garden access. The Terrace A key concern in the design of the new terrace was finding the balance between creating a coherent whole on the one hand and giving each house its own identity on the other. The street consists of two house types, each of which has a primary feature on the front elevation which sets up a regular rhythm along the street. In addition each house has a light ‘chimney’ over the stairs which articulates each individual house. House Types The two house types respond to the differing site constraints. Both are two storeys with an additional floor of accommodation in the roof space. Within these types are a number of variations which respond to the shape and condition of the particular building plot. The first house type is the Bay Window House (x11). Characterised by an asymmetric bay window, it is designed to provide oblique views along the street via the corner windows.
the street side to create a covered entrance space. A metal dormer ‘hood’ at roof level complements the light ‘chimneys’ creating a crenellated roof profile. The corner windows again provide oblique long views back down the terrace.
Materiality and Texture The scheme consists of two terraces , the main north south terrace of 17 houses and the short terrace of three houses at the top of the site. Brick was selected as the primary material to allow the new houses to sit comfortably alongside the surrounding streets of brick period properties. For the main terrace a red brick multi brick with natural variation was selected. For the terrace of three houses a lighter buff brick was chosen. This reflects the lighter buff brick used on the rear elevations of the period buildings. The brick detailing also takes its cue from the surrounding red brick terraces. These are simple Victorian houses but even still they have a level of refinement; the eaves are corbelled and depth is given to the facade by a band of dogtooth brickwork. Window heads are articulated by brick arches and entrances are given special treatment with rounded corners. This level of detail was brought into the scheme. The panels of fluted brick work add depth and set up a regular rhythm along the terrace, while the bands of double stacked soldier course serve to tie the terrace together.
Above, top: Perspective walking up the shared surface Below: General Arrangement Site Plan Opposite: Initial sketches for design development
The second house type is the Cantilever House (x9) set out on a shallower plot the house is wider in plan in order to provide the required amount of private amenity space to the rear. The first floor steps out on
Through careful consideration of space provision and site restrictions, a play on a typical terraced house typology has re-energised an underused backland site with generous, modern homes with ample outdoor amenity space. Dunville Close, developed with a nuanced recognition of its surroundings will form part of vibrant and well recognised Dublin suburb.
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Granville Road Levitt Bernstein The project will regenerate the Granville Road Estate in the London Borough of Barnet through sensitive infill development and significant landscape improvements, providing additional homes and a better environment for new and existing residents.
THE ESTATE currently features three 15-storey tower blocks and three mid-rise buildings, situated within a suburban street network of semi-detached and terraced homes. Three apartment buildings and a series of terraces will be carefully stitched into this streetscape; making use of underused amenity space to densify the estate and provide much-needed new homes for the local community. The masterplan creates a simple, legible layout that re-establishes a traditional street pattern and creates a more cohesive sense of place. A strong central spine running north to south introduces new public spaces, increases permeability across the estate and further integrates it within the wider context. Reconfiguring and improving green space is central to this project, with particular areas designed to respond to the character and geometry of the nearby buildings. In response to the repetitive nature of the existing 1960’s architecture, our design approach is for each typology to be visually distinct. This is expressed primarily through different roof profiles, which are also exaggerated by the sloping nature of the site. Other aspects are deliberately kept relatively simple with more subtle variations introduced in details such as the design of the bay windows, entrances, brick detailing and balconies, which respond to the context and create a variety of character areas across the neighbourhood. Houses are generally designed with an emphasis on vertical proportions, whereas the new apartment buildings reflect the strong, simple geometric form of the existing towers by emphasising horizontal parapet lines and minimising large steps in height. 34
A limited palette of materials and details for both the new homes and landscape elements, predominantly featuring light, cream coloured brickwork complemented by bronze metal cladding, will unify the contrasting nearby architectural characters and ensure a cohesive character is formed between old and new. A key element of the design brief was to integrate car parking areas across the estate. Two of the apartment buildings feature underground parking with vehicle ramps and secure gates, which are carefully screened to allow simple ventilation and extra green amenity. Additional car parks will also be created at the rear of existing buildings, so that in total, 332 new parking spaces are being provided. There is also sufficient storage for at least one bicycle per home and 30 pram sheds will be re-provided for the existing buildings. The majority of new homes are terraced houses, not only to sensitively respond to the predominantly suburban streetscape, but to address the lack of family accommodation within the local area. This new provision will in turn free up apartments better suited to single occupants, couples and small families. Furthermore, the proposed tenure mix reflects the council’s wish to create a more balanced community, with more shared ownership and private sale homes to complement the large number of affordable rental homes already on the estate.
PROJECT: Granville Road LOCATION: Barnet, London CLIENT:
Granville Road LLP
Post Planning (Completion 2020)
373 homes (132 new & retaining 241)
Jo McCafferty Director, Levitt Bernstein
The landscape strategy knits the new and existing buildings together, creating a green ribbon of high quality amenity across the long and narrow site. A new linear green space sits at its heart, whilst new public squares front onto each of the existing towers, ensuring both new and existing residents benefit from the public realm interventions. Across all of these spaces, various opportunities for structured and incidental play are also introduced.
This scheme will be carefully integrated into the existing estate, improving the streetscape and amenity for existing residents whilst offering a wider range of homes for the local community.
Eamon Oâ€™Malley â€” Director, Sherrygreen Homes
Left, top: Illustrative view of Granville Road. Left, bottom: Granville Road house types. Below: Granville Road site plan.
NEW BUILDINGS EXISTING BUILDINGS
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Power to the People A new suite of low cost housing typologies and a flexible residential framework for Engie’s introduction into the UK housing market provide battery powered homes for modern twenty-first century suburbia.
PROJECT: Engie Living LOCATION: Various CLIENT:
METROPOLITAN WORKSHOP have worked with multinational energy supplier Engie to develop a new suite of modular homes targeted at the UK suburban PRS market. We have also created a flexible masterplan framework that employs the Homestead concept, to allow these home-types to be deployed over various sites across the United Kingdom. We have created a Design Manual to allow Engie’s regional delivery teams and/or architects to use the house typologies and our approach to the masterplan to prepare outline and detailed planning applications, before moving through to construction and delivery of major new suburban developments – for which Engie will supply energy and retain management of the sites. All developments will include Engie’s new sustainable energy infrastructure providing affordable, greener energy to homeowners, with any excess energy production feeding back into the National Grid. The homestead was adapted to allow more homes to have on-plot parking to allow for electric car charging. However other parking was pushed to the periphery along primary access roads. This meant the homesteads’ private and shared landscape
can be optimised for residents, making more space available for communal uses, while ensuring each home has good private amenity. House types are arranged around generous, overlooked shared gardens and yards encouraging neighbours to come together and allowing children to play safely. Further hierarchical squares, courts and yards encourage collegial living creating opportunities for interaction, fostering more inclusive communities. The Engie Homestead can provide density up to 80 dwellings per hectare, whilst still providing generous, green communal amenity within an efficient and legible grid structure. The Engie Homestead can be tessellated to respond to site conditions and within a phased development can flex to respond to changing market trends, mix and tenure demands. All Engie Homes have been designed to modular spatial parameters to allow the homes to be prefabricated off-site. This will provide extensive benefits compared to relying solely on traditional build methods. Each house type can be customised in the factory to deliver maximum consumer choice and a high-precision finish.
circulation core which reduces the amount of construction work required on-site, whilst also allowing a diverse suite of house types to be generated from a set of engine and spine modules. Remaining living and bedroom modules are also designed to off-site spatial design parameters but can be built in traditional construction methods, if required. The design approach offers ways to incorporate different degrees of prefabrication depending on the most economical and viable route. It allows easy future extension and adaption with standard service or living modules being able to be added at any point. Engie’s house range is designed to accommodate growing demographic trends such as multi-generational homes and livework studios, all stemming from the core module concepts. There is also a modular apartment type that provides further variety and can accommodate later living. All the home-types can be provided within the Homestead cluster and flexed in terms of numbers and types to suit local need.
The principal feature of Engie homes is a prefabricated wet room, service and
Opposite: Illustrative view of Engie Homestead. Left, top: All homes with direct relationship to shared landscape. Left, bottom: Illustrative aerial view of Engie Homestead. Below: Illustrative view of loft living format for Engie Homestead.
ENGIE has long recognised that globally we are facing unprecedented challenges to our societies and communities. We believe that to meet these challenges we need to collectively change our behaviours and work together to create connected places, places with beauty and places with community. These places must meet the wants and needs of all parts of society and we are fully invested in providing a new range of suburban living formats that accommodate a wider range of tenure, mix and density. By providing our homes and places with the latest smart technology, by enabling residents to share and reduce energy usage and by ensuring clean and decentralised energy generation and storage we can continue the market shift to longer term and more sustainable models of place-making.
Chris Langdon — Development and Investment Director
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
A Modular Future — New Thinking, New Suburbia
Mark Latham interviewed by Dhruv Sookhoo.
Mark Latham, Regeneration Director, Urban Splash predicts the future of suburbia and discusses how modular approaches are offering quality hungry consumers greater choice.
MARK LATHAM is Regeneration Director at Urban Splash, currently responsible for future phases of the celebrated renovation of the grade 2* listed Park Hill, Sheffield, and the delivery of Smith’s Docks regeneration masterplan in North Shields, Tyneside. He read Classics at the University of Cambridge, before undertaking a MA in Art in Greek and Roman Art and Architecture from the Courtauld Institute and MSc in Urban Regeneration, Development and Planning from University College London. He served as a Senior Regional Advisor to the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (2003-2006) and is a past panel member of the Sheffield Sustainable Development and Design Panel (2006-2011). He is currently client lead for Campbell Park North and Northstowe, two residential led schemes in Milton Keynes and North Cambridgeshire. Mark is interviewed here as an advocate of modern methods of construction in residential design and development and for his insights into the way contemporary approaches to modular housing will inform how suburban settings will be experienced by residents now and in the future.
The interview is conducted in conjunction with Metropolitan Workshop’s New Kind of Suburbia exhibition and event series. Dhruv Sookhoo: Suburbia conjures up different things to different people. What does the word mean to you? Mark Latham: My experience of suburbia is the surreal, closeted versions you find in British military bases around the world from Warminster to Germany to Cyprus. The house-types and cul-de-sacs are straight out of volume builder playbooks, but you’re inside a barbed wire fence and outside there may be palm-trees or lederhosen! Like all army families, we moved on every two to three years, never putting down the roots, that are – it seems to me – one of the great strengths of suburbia. At its best, suburbia for me conjures up: peaceful leafy streets, neighbourliness, spaciousness and stability, connections with nature and green space, a sense of comfort, security and community. The classic flipside to this is the potential for banality, uniformity, that reflects a settled, self-satisfied understanding of normative behaviours. There is potential for suburbia to produce a suffocating sameness and for that characterless repetition of built form to reflect the assumption that every life lived within the suburban homes are identical. This leaves a nagging feeling of disconnectedness and isolation, which goes with that lack of diversity and sense of underwhelming mediocrity. In this kind of suburbia there may be a feeling that real life is going on somewhere else in the exciting, wider world. DS: Urban Splash is celebrated for its unique approach to residential development. What do you predict will be the major changes
in the way we experience and conceived of suburbia by 2050? ML: I won’t be the only one thinking that a massive driver will surely be climate change, coupled with advances in technology – both offer constraints and opportunities. For suburbia, I see particular impacts in terms of changing habits around transport, and different opportunities for physical and digital connectedness. The pressure to reduce private car ownership and the possibilities of autonomous, on-demand, subscriptionbased personal transport services will trigger a number of shifts: public transport networks could be newly invigorated and more people will cycle or walk. Just think of all that space currently set aside for storing cars – in garages, on plot, on street, in car parks – that could be freed up for alternative uses. Technology will continue to erode that suburban sense of disconnectedness and distance from the heart of things. Now, the world is within your grasp from your phone, you can work from home, you can browse the virtual shelves of any shop from your armchair. Some interactions – live music, meeting up with mates at the pub, kissing your lover – will remain resolutely face-toface. But the balance between the tranquillity and separation of the suburb on the one hand and the activity, congestion and exchange of urban centres will be ever more blurred. Another looming challenge is demographic change, and the need to develop living formats and communities adaptable to multi-generational occupation. How do we enable older people living ever longer and healthier lives to continue to live in suburban locations where they have roots, social capital and networks, and form vital civil societal functions, whilst freeing them from sitting on large house assets better suited to families.
In a number of Urban Splash projects we are actively designing in future-proofed thinking across these and other emerging issues – we can’t hope to get it all right, but suburbia has proofed a resilient and adaptable format over the years. DS: Speculative developers have used pattern books or house types for centuries, with mixed results for suburban place-making. As relatively new entrants to the housing market how do you manage the tension between delivering a standardized, modular product and your desire to create unique places?
We are now working with shedkm on ways to apply a wide variety of facade treatments, materiality and colour on to our standard volumetric chassis using common fixing systems. This allows us to respond more sensitively to local character and conditions, and to vary elevational appearances even within a single terrace or street of houses, without overly compromising efficiency and standardisation, or resorting to pastiche. We are very active in this area of research and development at the moment, and this modular approach will be key to unlocking many more sites and consents.
ML: You’ve hit the nail on the head – that is precisely the central challenge we face as we look to disrupt housebuilding norms and scale up our modular business: how to balance repetition and variety, efficient standardization and individual customization, repeatable typologies and local contextual responses. After all, we want to beat the volume-builders, not join them.
We are also developing a family of formats of different sizes to sit alongside Townhouse offering further variety and a clear focus on their ability to be mixed and matched in many different layout configurations – terraced, crescent, semi-detached and freestanding. Over time, I believe we will need to explore formats for other uses to be incorporated – corner shops, a pub, homeworking, older care.
One answer is that the inherent flexibility of our modular typologies is specifically intended to allow multiple purchasers to occupy the same basic footprint in many different ways. This facilitates greater social diversity, not necessarily normative household types, and the layouts can be readily changed over time, building in long-term adaptability.
Finally we will always play close attention to the wider setting – the role of public space, streets, gardens, unique historical and landscape features that frame the houses themselves. We have always been committed to highly bespoke and place-specific responses in our developments. That won’t change, even though the house types may be essentially repeated.
Left: Volumetric floor modules of Townhouse being craned into position to form terrace rows at New Islington, Manchester. Above, top: Illustrative aerial view of Port Loop, Birmingham. Above, bottom: Sketch masterplan of Northstowe, Cambridge by Proctor & Matthews Architects
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
DS: Other modular products attempt to replicate the neo-vernacular aesthetic associated with volume housebuilders. You commission developments that don’t. Does this limit your market to more pioneering residents? ML: Maybe, but that’s still not a small market! Yes, there will be buyers who prefer the safety of traditional looking homes, but in our view, people very often buy a home from a volume housebuilders simply because that’s the only thing on offer. We are proud and vocal champions of contemporary design. We want our homes to look like they’ve been built in the 21st Century – because they have. It may not be to everyone’s taste but we don’t need or want to appeal to absolutely everyone. We certainly think there are plenty of people out there dissatisfied with what the volume builders offer and who are looking for other choices. The popularity of Grand Designs, the burgeoning interest in conversions, self-build and custom-build, all indicates an ever more design-aware and quality-hungry public, and unmet market demand. 40
On the supply side, many developers err towards conservative styling because of perceived planning risk. It’s often far easier to get consent for stuff that looks like standard volume housing builder product, than to stick your neck out and create homes that have a strong contemporary look. Neo-vernacular will get waved through on the nod nine times out of ten – it’s hard for an authority to refuse what has already been consented hundreds of times before. Whereas anything unfamiliar, bold or new will be scrutinised and grilled to the nth degree, even when it’s demonstrably of higher quality! DS: Traditional suburban housing is often associated with low density housing within and the predominance of private gardens over shared amenity and public realm. How have Urban Splash challenged these stereotypes to provide more cohesive neighbourhoods? ML: We are very interested in this dynamic and the potential to combine the best suburban qualities of plentiful private open green space and tranquillity, whilst maintaining relatively high densities of dwellings per hectare and a sense of
community and place. In standard volumeville suburbia, built frontages and public realm are highly fragmented, street patterns and routes meandering and non-intuitive, cul-de-sacs lead you to dead ends, land use is often wasteful. Our modular Townhouse is essentially an urban terraced, rather than suburban typology, lending itself to more conventional legible linear streets and blocks and higher densities than normal suburbia. Not only is this more responsible use of land, but moves towards densities capable of sustaining more local amenities, more frequent public transport services and reducing cardependent travel habits. In terms of gardens, the volume builder offering is usually little larger than a postage stamp, a token scrap of land to call your own, penned in by a tall garden fence. At our Port Loop scheme in Birmingham, our upcoming projects in Milton Keynes and Northstowe outside Cambridge, we are offering generous private patios demised to each house at the back giving out onto larger shared communal gardens at the heart of
each perimeter block. This not only offers the opportunity for meaningful areas of open green space with the possibility of larger mature trees and space to breathe but also promotes neighbourly interaction and a sense of community. It’s interesting to see other recent projects, such as Marmalade Lane in Cambridge taking a similar approach. DS: Modular housing has potential to offer residents varying, welcome degrees of choice through customization. But how do you manage the tension between managing variation and delivering efficiency and buildability? ML: We see customer choice as a really important component of changing housebuilding norms. The modular construction methodology came from that, not the other way round. We think it’s important to give customers choice to inhabit their homes in a way that suits their lifestyle, household makeup and what’s most important to them – and potentially to change that over time as well – because one size really doesn’t fit all. The industry is fixated on the number of bedrooms a house has. Whereas, we all know it’s not just about bedroom numbers, but size, layout and how you live in them that counts. A big open plan format may suit couples with no children or older downsizers, but not a busy family of five. Having your living space on the top floor could work brilliantly in a location looking out over a fantastic view or a congested urban location, whereas plenty will prefer daily contact with the garden on the ground floor.
The point that as far as possible is we don’t decide what matters, the customer does. You’re right that there is a tension between variation and efficiency. But car makers like Jaguar-Landrover have managed to crack this, providing high levels of customization through honed and superefficient manufacturing processes. In other countries, like Japan, these principles have been successfully applied to housebuilding too. So it is possible. We have worked hard together with architects shedkm and our in-house design team at Urban Splash Modular to achieve a format which is highly rational and simple in its framework, but adaptable to variety with minimal changes to the base. When we first developed the Town House concept with shedkm, it quickly became clear that the format was capable of providing hundreds of different permutations through different wall positions and room arrangements within the same base ‘box’. We deliberately whittled this down to a more manageable seventy-two options. Not only to avoid cost and factory production complexities, but also to avoid blinding the customer with choice overload. Making this approach work requires adaptations needed to sales processes, careful management of order lead times in the factory and so on which we continue to refine and improve. We are operating outside many of the received norms of the industry and constantly learning as we go. But we like that, we’ve always enjoyed writing new rules, stepping where others fear to tread and refusing to believe that “it will never work”.
DS: Proportionately, very few architects participate in the design and delivery of mass housing, rather than one-off homes. This is often identified as being a barrier to achieving improved residential design. What impact do you think this absence of architects and other designers has on how we experience suburbia? ML: Looking at some of the best recent housing: Accordia, Great Kneighton and Eddington in Cambridge, New Hall in Harlow, and Mikhail Riches’ newly-completed Goldsmith Street in Norwich. Whilst the quality of the individual homes is notable, so too is the sense of a distinct place, which you can warm to and identify with. A place you would be proud to call home. There is clear contemporary architectural language, but also connections to recognisable local materials, proportions, building forms, layouts and landscape, which gives these projects a sense of simultaneously being familiar and new.
without good designers you get “anywhereville”. The endless, featureless suburbia that Gordon Cullen wrote about in the 1970s. DS: Any final thoughts? ML: Yes, the role of architects and other designers is obviously central, but you also need skilled and committed clients with a vision and values beyond simply making the most money possible out of any given piece of land. There are a handful of us out there, and thankfully we are growing in number. It’s high time we all had a good go at a new kind of suburbia.
That’s not an easy trick to pull off. Designing and detailing beautiful individual house types is not sufficient, you have to be able to assemble and marshal them into successful collections of homes, which work coherently with each other and the surrounding landscape to form satisfying streets, and squares, and neighbourhoods. And let’s be clear, not all architects – even really good ones – have those masterplanning abilities. The role of landscape and urban designers to shape the wider setting is also crucial. What is certain, however, is that
Opposite: Top floor living in Townhouse designed by shedkm architects for Urban Splash. Below: Campbell Park North Competition Masterplan.
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Recalling Ballymun: Delivering a phased masterplan Metropolitan Workshop has been continuously engaged with suburbia ever since Founding Partner, David Prichard began working in Milton Keynes from the 1970’s.
DAVID PRICHARD founded Metropolitan Workshop with Neil Deely in 2005, having worked together at MJP Architects (formerly MacCormac Jamieson Prichard). He has contributed to suburban developments across the Republic of Ireland and UK, building schemes in the new towns of Milton Keynes, Cwmbran, Warrington, Basildon and London Docklands. Working with Neil at MJP, he led the Ballymun Regeneration Masterplan in Dublin. A chance encounter in 1960s suburbia saw him apply to the Bartlett School of Architecture, where he met Richard MacCormac during crits. He won the Sir Andrew Taylor Prize for a suburban housing competition entry, joining Richard MacCormac and Peter Jamieson when they formed their practice in 1972. In this summary piece from ‘Memories, Milestones and New Horizons - Reflections on the Regeneration of Ballymun’ (2008) David reflects on the lessons learnt from (then) ten years of regenerating Ballymun.
David Prichard Co-founding Partner – MacCormac Jamieson Prichard & Metropolitan Workshop
SUMMARY The physical environment of Ballymun is improving, but the community remain socially challenged. Ballymun Regeneration Limited (BRL) continues to identify gaps in the provision of support services, and is developing innovative responses and forging partnerships with statutory and voluntary agencies so as to sustain such initiatives beyond the timeframe of reconstruction. The palpable satisfaction expressed by residents in their new homes is matched at community level with success in the National Tidy Towns competition, which would have been impossible a few years ago. Ballymun has the most ambitious local authority-commissioned arts programme in the history of the state under the government’s Percent for Art scheme. The Breaking Ground programme is providing an ‘opening for art in all forms to be made in different contexts and with new publics’. Its four strands of engagement with the community, with the built fabric, and through events and education are already internationally known, and establish new links, a new image and a source of pride for Ballymun. These goals are being met, but the incremental nature of the development means the interim conditions can look quite chaotic. The puzzle pieces are revealing the bigger picture around Coultry Park, Balcurris Park and Main Street the latter is, in fact the sixth community of Ballymun, providing district-wide facilities. This constant evolution of the masterplan has been managed by BRL’s site-based team. Their role goes way beyond project management, architecture and construction programming, because they devise and deliver the ‘soft’ – and more difficult – non-construction projects that flow from the social and economic agendas.
Most schemes are for under seventy-five homes, which is a consequence of several factors, such as availability of sites, the phasing of demolitions, the desire for architectural variety, the construction companies’ capacity and risk reduction. In contrast, the private sector has no qualms about much bigger schemes being undertaken by a single designer, which can have a profound impact on the diversity of the built form. Under the UK development corporations of the 1970s, where the chief architect dictated the colour of the brick and roof tile of each neighbourhood so as to achieve an overall coherence, BRL has been consciously more liberal and encouraged greater diversity, as is the cultural tradition. No doubt for reasons of economics, the prevailing materials are bricks for front facades, with extensive use of render for other features and rear elevations. BRL’s in-house landscape team has designed the town-wide palette of hard surfaces, street furniture and soft landscapes. Design codes could, perhaps, have been useful for each neighbourhood. New Hall village near Harlow in Essex is quoted as
an example of the successful use of codes, but its village green is poorly enclosed by three different architectural styles. As with all design guidance, the outcome still relies upon the maturity of the designer to look beyond their individualistic mark, to tune into the context and to collaborate with each other. If the new construction costs and complexities of inner-city renewal are compared with new-build projects on green field sites, it is easy to see the appeal of the latter. `Councils and those providing funding must appreciate that specific skills and varying budgets and timescales are needed for regeneration, and that the problems to be tackled are usually not solved by new hardware but require the coordinated inputs of other agencies and budgets to enable the community to flourish.
Long term urban benefits: New pride in place for Ballymuners; dignity at last! Three new urban parks. Better connected communities. Local employment opportunities.
This brief review has been about the hardware of the regeneration. Ballymun’s education, training, employment, and community and cultural development programmes are very impressive, and it is these that will deliver the socially sustainable community that new buildings can only host. Summary from ‘Memories, Milestones and New Horizons - Reflections on the Regeneration of Ballymun’ (David Prichard, 2008)
Opposite: Figure 1: Aerial View of Ballymun from the south, 2008 Below, left: Figure 2a: Aerial photo, 1997 Below, middle: Masterplan, 1998 Below, right: Model photo, 1998
The most dramatic urban-design achievement is the transformation of the dual carriageway and roundabout into Main Street and the Civic Plaza. The south and north ends of Main Street are in place, but the middle is vacant as demolition of the slab blocks is awaited, together with their replacement by ore employment land uses that will contribute to this becoming a real town. The overall coherence if each neighbourhood has yet to be achieved, and largely depends upon the planned but unbuilt schemes, as well as a maturing landscape and thriving community facilities. Understandably, the current status of construction gives a patchy impression. The challenge for multiphased projects like Ballymun is that the last phases – the last few pieces of the puzzle that make sense of the picture – must be the jewels in the crown. 43
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Cederbrook, Marianella, & Clancy Quay. OMP These three projects each address a distinctly different market need. Cederbrook is an affordable suburban housing development designed to bridge the gap between low density housing typologies and higher density apartment blocks. Marianella is a scheme of apartments designed to appeal to local residents downsizing from family houses. Clancy Quay is an inner suburban Private Rental Sector project that delivers a variety of rental options from refurbished listed duplex units to new build traditional houses and purpose designed high density apartments.
PROJECT: Cederbrook, Marianella & Clancy Quay LOCATION: Dublin CLIENT:
O’Mahony Pike Architects
John O’Mahony Director, OMP.
These three projects have each been designed to address a distinctly different market need.
Client- Park Developments Site Area- 4 ha Density- 94dph
Client- Cairn Homes Ltd Site Area- 3ha Density- 105dph
Client- Kennedy Wilson Europe Site Area- 2ha Density- 100dph
Cederbrook of a joint venture competition sponsored by Dublin City Council to select a partner to deliver affordable housing at the highest density but at the same cost as traditional housing. The competition stipulates that it will minimise managed space, there will be own door access and surface parking throughout. Modern methods of construction are to be used to deliver the project in the shortest possible programme. The sales prices were fixed at an affordable level and the units were sold to owner occupiers only. Park Developments with OMP won the competition.
Marianella is a development of luxury apartments on the site of a redundant monastery in a low density Victorian red brick suburb. 315 apartments, town houses and mews are accommodated in six 5 storey pavilion blocks and 2 and 3 storey terraces on the 3 hectare site. The design was intended to appeal to local downsizing couples and single people and indeed 90% of purchasers were from that demographic. To distinguish this type of development from a traditional lift served apartment layout two specific design solutions were applied. Firstly, to ensure a sense of security is achieved and to enhance a feeling of privacy each core serves just two or three apartments. Secondly, the development offers very high quality residential amenities including a concierge service on site, a clubhouse, a gym, steam room, sauna and changing facilities. A home cinema and a bar and lounge area with outdoor terraces is also provided. What enhances the attraction of this development to older residents is its setting sitting as it is within a new public park which incorporates existing mature trees and high quality planting to create a mature woodland setting. Private courtyards between the blocks adjacent to the park enhance the sylvan setting.
Consisting of 423 private rental townhouses, duplex units and apartments on a disused military barracks Clancy Quay overlooks the Liffey in Islandbridge. 422 apartments were built in the first phase of development. When completed the entire development of 845 units will be the biggest PRS scheme in the state. The density will be 150 units per hectare.
OMP’s design solution includes 376 walk up Duplex units and family houses achieving a density of 94 dwellings per hectare. 4 storey perimeter terraces are designed to replicate a traditional Victorian Terrace with repeating bays of six own door 2 bed apartments and duplex units each served by a single staircase. A small feature block of six 1 bed apartments bookends each terrace. 3 storey terraces in the centre of the site have a typical 2 storey 3 bed family house with a cross over apartment at third floor level. 200 units have private back gardens and the balance are provided with large terraces. An innovative prefabricated load bearing concrete grey panel system was designed and employed on the project and delivered the development 35% quicker than traditional building methods at the same cost. We believe this solution is suitable for affordable purchase by today’s key workers. 44
Phase 2 comprises 163 duplex, townhouses and apartments. Many of the dwellings were reconfigured to suit the layouts of a series of listed terrace buildings dating back to the late 18th century. Phase three is a purpose designed PRS scheme of 256 apartments in blocks varying in height from four storeys to nine storeys. The layouts of these buildings are designed to concentrate access and egress to a single controlled reception point thus enhancing security and promoting an ongoing relationship between the tenants and the landlord’s staff. Because the development is maintained on a long term basis by the landlord, corridors are standard throughout to promote ease of servicing of apartments , not unlike hotels, and lift cores are minimised to control long term maintenance costs and for security reasons. PRS developments differentiate themselves from traditional apartment schemes in that they provide extensive residential amenities for the tenants exclusive use. In Clancy Quay these include a 24 hour concierge service, Fitness Centre. Residents Lounge, Business Centre and Meeting Rooms, a cinema and a games room.
1 bed walk up apartment block 2 bed walk up apartments and duplex 3 bed townhouse with 2 bed apartment above 3 bed townhouse
Above: Site Plan of Cederbrook Opposite: Photo of Cederbrook
Above: Site Plan of Marianella Opposite: Photo of Marianella
main access to Phase 3
South Circular Road
vehicular connection to Phase 2
Above: Site Plan of Clancy Quay Opposite: Photo of Clancy Quay
PROSPECTS #01 â€” A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Clonburris, Dublin A new high density community in West Dublin, Clonburris examines how new suburban typologies can help to create an urbanised focal point for the wider area.
PROJECT: Clonburris LOCATION: West Dublin CLIENT:
South Dublin Co. Council
39.5ha (net area)
METROPOLITAN WORKSHOP were appointed to develop a masterplan for County Council owned lands in west Dublin as part of the wider Clonburris Strategic Development Zone (SDZ). The scheme represents a shared outlook for the future residential, social, economic and environmental development of a new planned and sustainable community in South Dublin which will provide 2600 homes. Our role was to test the draft planning scheme and subsequent amendments at a detailed level. This included working within the parameters of the SDZ to test assumptions around density and height
Clonburris provided an opportunity to challenge some of the assumptions about suburban development on the fringe of Irish cities. As opposed to low-density sprawl, there is a variety of heights and density that create a more focused and coherent environment. This mix of densities gives the plan a central focus and a real identity.
The site is currently undeveloped greenfield land sitting either side of the main Dublin Kildare railway line with the Grand Canal running along its southern boundary. There are also two major arterial roads passing through the site which connect the surrounding communities of Lucan, Clondalkin, Liffey Valley, and Adamstown. Line of Existing Topography
Podium Car Parking
Sh ed ar Su rfa ce t
Outside of kishoge centre, the other neighbours offer a mix of taller perimeter buildings to urban edges (such as along the existing Grand Canal and proposed new park areas) while lower rise dwellings within the urban blocks creates a mix of housing types that promotes social cohesion and a greater focus on pedestrian movement.
The central focus of the scheme is the higher-density urban village area centred about the new Kishoge Rail Station which will provide the wider locale with a main transportation link to Dublin City Centre. Key to this approach is a model split which promotes walking cycling and public transport. This area also features significant topographical issues between existing ground levels and infrastructure largely as a result of the need to promote appropriate clearance for transportation modes. This unlocks an opportunity to investigate a combination of housing types, commercial buildings, and other amenities as part of the architectural solution.
Cillian McGarry â€” Project Architect
The increased mix of densities provides opportunities to create more open and vibrant spaces that are not otherwise seen in the surrounding suburbs of West Dublin. This in turn provides more areas for social interaction and community use. The higher density buildings which surround these spaces also serve to orientate and provide an identity for the scheme.
Above, opposite: Medium density neighbourhood overlooking open space Above, top: Imagined view high density centre Above, middle: Streetscape section Right: Clonburris Masterplan
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Park Life, Raheny GKMP Park life proposes a new model for low-rise high-density housing in the Dublin suburbs, seeking a compact and sustainable form of development that makes the best use of available land.
THE STRATEGY is to make a dense piece of city fabric that is interwoven with gardens and landscape. Four courtyards are set up alongside the primary avenue of St. Anne’s Park in Raheny. Each courtyard acts as a communal garden for an enclosure of 26 terraced houses. The east and west terraces are made up of three-bed townhouses and are bookended by twobed tower houses. Four-bed family houses hold the north and south ends of the courtyard. Each house type enjoys a double height living and dining space, upper roof terraces and private gardens related to their shared courtyard. The courtyards are landscaped based on a grid of trees, but each is given its own identity defined by planting, seating, dining terraces and grassed areas to create a sense of place. The overall landscape is also gardened; densely planted with trees, shrubs and grasscrete parking spaces so that the site begins to blend into the landscape of the park beyond. The material language of the houses is traditional to the Dublin suburb: brick, with timber windows and slate roofs and with plasterwork to facade recesses.
Planning History THE SCHEME forms part of a wider application for 536 units (104 houses + 432 apartments). The original application was made directly to An Bord Pleanála under the Planning and Development (Strategic Housing Development) Regulations 2017. The High Court subsequently ruled, however, that the application should be returned to the Board for reconsideration on the basis that the application had not complied with the EU Birds Directive. The Board subsequently issued a Decision to Refuse Permission essentially on the grounds that the development would have a negative impact on bird species on the site
PROJECT: Park Life - Low-rise high-density housing LOCATION: Raheny, Dublin CLIENT:
Crekav Trading, Marlet Property Group
Planning application submitted
GKMP Architects in association with OMP
Michael Pike Director, GKMP
The material language of the houses is traditional to the Dublin suburb: brick, with timber windows and slate roofs and with plasterwork to facade recesses.
2 bed house 3 bed house 4 bed house
Opposite: Overview axonometric of scheme Above, Left: Courtyard perspective Above, Right: Street perspective Below: Site Plan of Clancy Quay
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
The origins of the Semi-D FROM JOHN SHAW’S Provost Road semis in Camden of 1844 and Richard Norman Shaw’s Bedford Park estate of 1877 (Figure 1), to those designed by Alison Brooks Architects and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios as part of the Accordia development in Cambridge, the semi-detached house borrows from and shares its status with its neighbour. Around a third of the UK population chooses to live in a semidetached property, so this is a house type that seems to suit British taste.1 What makes it so popular? ‘The English all want to live in their own private little box with their own little bit of green. And underlying that, the feeling of privacy and the middle-class tendency to keep ourselves to ourselves … to go home, shut the door and pull up the drawbridge’, says Kate Fox in Watching the English (2005). In the depression of the 1920s, speculative builders created an alternative to the generously proportioned houses of the Edwardian era (around 84m2), at a time when average family sizes were decreasing – as was the affordability of servants. Many disdained the stifling repetitiveness – road upon endless road and cul-de-sac of pitchedroof monotony – of the new suburban estates for the aspiring lower and middle of the middle classes. In Outrage: On the Disfigurement of Town and Countryside (1959), Ian Nairn expressed his view that the semi-detached house and the suburbia it produced were ordinary at best, and at worst, substandard development produced by failures in planning to foster high-quality, characterful places; they were the face of speculative developers’ greed. Builders consequently became eager to stress the uniqueness of their estates as often as they could, and buyers wanted individuality, but also to be part of a community in which their dwelling did not set them apart. They were offered a wide range of styles, with Tudorbethan timber work, some with Art Deco leanings, and Modernist versions with names such as Sunspan and Suntrap. The eponymous Class 3 semi, as defined by Finn Jensen in Modernist Semis and Terraces in England (2016), came with or without gabled, M-shaped or flat roofs, or bay windows. Owners could personalise front doors 50
with paint, install stained glass to the hall window and hang a romantic name (Dunroamin) over the door. Ubiquitous and stylish Almost half of all homes built in the inter-war period (1.8 million) were semidetached,2 and soon the monotony of the pattern-book house was much criticised. The typology was highly successful mainly because the large plots it used meant solar access was much better than that of a terraced house, while its increment allowed it to flow over the undulating countryside that it was built on. The semi-d has become synonymous with UK suburban life. The type is enduringly popular with the working and middle classes. It is economical and flexible. It uses less land than detached houses and is cheaper to construct, primarily thanks to the sharing of a party wall. It provides easy access to rear gardens and most have a front garden producing a green street scene. Recently, these have been crazy-paved over to accommodate two or more cars. Some ethnic-minority communities have built bulk food stores or home offices in their long back gardens and flat-roof additions have been erected to create very large family rooms, or two to three new bedrooms in a new attic floor. In some cases, the three-bed, five-person semi has been reconstructed to become a six-bed, eleven-person house with twice the original 84m2 floor area. More than two-thirds of the Housing Manual pattern book published by the Department of Health in 1919 were semidetached typologies,3 but land prices and building regulations contributed to the decline of the semi-detached house in the 1960s and ’70s, as have changing structures of society with more of us now living alone. Yet British people have embraced the semi-d like those of no other European country – a so far unexplained and interesting cultural phenomenon. Anatomy Semi-detached houses originally gave the appearance of a larger house. Entrances were combined at the centre of the plan with hall-to-hall layouts providing acoustic separation between habitable rooms. Soon, however, halls and entrance were placed
Words by Neil Deely Co-founding Partner – Metropolitan Workshop
to the outside of the plan, as many owners and their wives (who were at home during the day), were content not to exchange pleasantries with their neighbours every time they used the front door.
making a resurgence. In 2016, 151,687 new properties were registered with the NHBC, with semi-detached houses rising from around 14,969 homes in 2008 to 38,999 homes in 2016, some 26% of registrations.4
The universal 1920s speculative semi-d comprised a hall and stair which led to the kitchen, off which a small larder was sometimes provided. Up a dog-leg staircase were two double bedrooms and a single bedroom, all entered from a short landing; a bathroom and separate WC (in later versions) with small side windows taking up the rear corner. The ground-floor parlour at the front was given a grand bay window. This room was for receiving guests, tending to a sick family member and for study. Front and rear gardens were fitted with sundials, rose beds and goldfish ponds, and sometimes the side passage was used to install a prefabricated garage.
Part of the reason for this is that the semidetached house, though more commonly associated with private ownership and speculative development, offers opportunities for creating ‘tenure-blindness’ – a better social mix of social, affordable and owner-occupied homes – in estate design that other typologies are unable to match. It offers greater opportunities for privacy and later adaption than the terrace.
What remains interesting is the extent to which this ‘prix fixe’ formula has been endlessly customised, in a way rarely possible with other house types. Neither architecturally designed, nor made acceptable by tradition, the type is now
Below, bottom: Figure 1: Woodstock Road, Bedford Park: Norman Shaw’s drawings.
Developers like this typology for the same reasons as ever; the semi-d has the advantage of providing access to the garden without going through the house, and it remains less land hungry than detached houses (beloved by housebuilders but which may only be 2 metres apart); work rooms can be built at the back of the garden; while the flank wall provides the opportunity to get light into the middle of the house, allow natural ventilation to bathrooms and easily incorporate car parking and/or garages.
1. Chris Randall, Housing: Social Trends 41, Newport 2011, p. 4 2. Finn Jensen, The English Semi-Detached House, Huntingdon 2007 3. Local Government Board, Housing Manual: 1919, London 1919 4. NHBC, New Homes Statistics Review: 2016, London 2016 Left: Figures 2a&b: The Y-form - a new plan form for semidetached housing by Metropolitan Workshop showing ground-floor plan as well as possible street arrangement. Below, top: Figure 3: Semi-detached cabins at North Lane, Aldershot by Sergison Bates. Below, bottom: Figure 4: The Painted House, North london by Jonathan Woolf.
Emerging Trends Metropolitan Workshop recently devised a new model for the semi-d, which also illustrates this degree of flexibility. The Y-form scheme features a butterfly plan, where two or four wings of a house are constructed at an angle to the core, usually at approximately 45º to the wall of the core building. Its advantage, apparent in the alternative name, ‘double suntrap plan’, is an increased number of aspects (Figures 2a&b). Designing for a corner site, the Y-form creates different visual expressions depending on the orientation of the ‘core’, which can face in or out. In a more urban setting, the Y-form could run along a street so that the appearance is that of dual-aspect terraced houses with the benefit of access to the back garden. It can offer a similar or higher density than a traditional terrace, but with multiple aspects. This, with the two case studies that follow, demonstrates the direction that the resurgent semi-d is going, with flexibility an integral part of its value.
In Aldershot the semi-detached houses by Sergison Bates masquerade as cabins in the woods. Their brick elevations and single, brick chimney stacks masterfully disguising this pair of interlocked houses as a single, more generous detached villa in space. True to the original Semi-D’s powers of deception. The Guts in New Islington in Manchester, Mae have turned their conjoined semis through 90 degrees and perpendicular to the street to form small courtyard gardens, an interesting hybrid of a semi and a backto-back. It demonstrates that the semi is far from dead and is enjoying new, higher density reincarnations. At Painted House in London, the late Jonathan Woolf makes a pair of semis honest by creating one house from two and recasting both the exterior and interiors with a modernist, minimalist palette of greys, whites and sober tones stripped or ornate or craft. The 20th Century semidetached shells that lie beneath have been transported to the 21st Century. 51
PROSPECTS #01 â€” A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
Cherrywood, Town Centre Levitt Bernstein, Munoz Albin, Moore Ruble Yudell & IMB Asymetria 52
PROJECT: Cherrywood LOCATION: South Dublin CLIENT:
LOCATED IN SOUTH DUBLIN, Cherrywood is redefining how urban developments are planned and constructed in Ireland. 82 acres of parkland and over 5 kilometres of finished roadways have already been constructed in Cherrywood, ensuring that future residents will move into a ready-made community which caters for people at all stages of life. In the heart of Cherrywood, is the town centre, Hines have begun construction on 1,350 build-to-rent apartments. The first of these apartments will come online in Q1 2021, with all 1,350 being available for rent by early 2022. In 2015, Hines commissioned 4 international architectural firms to design the apartments at Cherrywood town centre. The 4 international architects are Levitt Bernstein, Munoz Albin, Moore Ruble Yudell and IMB Asymetria. Through using these different architectural firms, the Cherrywood town centre apartment blocks will have a diverse look and feel from each other. This will create an interesting and engaging urban landscape for residents and visitors alike.
Cherrywood is redefining how urban developments are planned and constructed in Ireland. The apartments at Cherrywood will be part of an overall vibrant mixed-use town centre.
Brian Moran â€” Hines
The apartments at Cherrywood will be part of an overall vibrant mixed-use town centre, which will also feature a 67,000 sqm retailled, food and beverage, and entertainment scheme, Cherrywood Town Centre. Cherrywood Town Centre will open in Q4 2022, making it the first retail destination of its size to open in Dublin for almost 20 years. This mix of forward-thinking mixed-use planning, next generation retail and sustainable urban living will make Cherrywood a market leader in the Irish Living sector for years to come.
Opposite above: Imagined court yard view by Moore Ruble Yudell Above: Street View by Moore Ruble Yudell Right: Cherrywood masterplan
PROSPECTS #01 â€” A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
STORIES OF SUBURBIA
SUBURBIA MAKING ARCHITECTS
Editor Dhruv Adam Sookhoo, Head of Research and Practice Innovation Practice Contributors Tom Mitchell Jonny McKenna Richard Robinson Federica Filippone Gareth Bansor Ewan Cooper
Collectively our suburbanite contributors accounts speak to several experiences that influence their conceptualization of suburbia and the potentials it affords with relevance for our shared creative endeavour within the practice. These salient aspects include: the use of communal gardening as a means of creating communities and friendships (Richard Robinson), the role of play within new towns to generate and sustain a sense of community (Tom Mitchell), the use of green infrastructure to encourage active lifestyles for suburban residents (Gareth Bansor), and the need to foster a sense of home within suburbs as we address future technical challenges (Jonny McKenna). Further afield, the role of the architect as a facilitator of suburban placemaking is considered in relation to the formalization and development of the suburbs surrounding Brasilia (Federica Filippone). As the programme progresses these accounts will be supplemented by further contributions from within the studio and by external contributors. As with suburbs themselves, these personal accounts provide a humane, interpretative grounding for the expert enquiry to be pursued through other aspects of the A New Kind of Suburbia programme.
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
STORIES OF SUBURBIA
COMMUNITY THROUGH PLAY TOM MITCHELL
Suburb: Crawley, West Sussex I HAVE LIVED IN CRAWLEY since birth. It’s a new town, which both my parents moved to separately in the 1950s and early 1960s. I have very fond memories growing up there, not only because my parents gave me roaming freedoms unimaginable today, but also because of the way the New Town was planned. Children had access to landscapes and play facilities sadly missing in almost all housing development today. I grew up in a standard 3-bed end of terrace house in Gossops Green, one of the original new town neighbourhoods. It was the most common of the house types in the neighbourhood, whose layout was characterised by long, sweeping terraces, with homes set well back from the street to leave plenty of space for landscape. Designed following traditional Garden
Suburb principles, the road patterns often followed historic routes and retained the most valuable landscape assets. This not only created a beautiful neighbourhood setting – it also meant that you were never far from a climbable tree or a mini-wood, with lots of opportunities for camp-building.
Each one was open from 4pm to 7pm weekdays during term time, and from 10am to 6pm on Saturdays and school holidays. Every summer, inter-centre tournaments were held for football, netball and rounders, all of which helped to forge strong, but lighthearted neighbourhood allegiances.
Built predominantly by the Crawley Development Corporation from 1958, Gossops Green only had a relatively small amount of wholly private housing which was generally concentrated around the edges of the neighbourhood and delivered a decade later. For the most part, the Development Corporation delivered an undetectable mix of private and council homes. This meant we grew up and mixed with people from all parts of the social spectrum, and were never aware of the social status of those in our circle. Privately owned homes only started to become more obvious during the early 1980s, with the advent of double glazing.
Sadly, most of the Playcentres and youth clubs are now closed, and their buildings demolished with little warning. Taking a short cut home across the park one evening in the summer of 1994, I unexpectedly stumbled across the empty site of my local Playcentre. I was utterly dumbstruck and felt a real sense of loss. I know I wasn’t alone.
From the age of six, I was able to roam with my older friends throughout the neighbourhood, which included two parks, a big lake, a river, woods, several copses, local shops (all great for games), a nearby youth centre and a Playcentre. Located in the neighbourhood park, only three minutes walk from our house, our Playcentre was a prefabricated single-storey social hub which offered snooker, pool, table tennis, board games, refreshments and a modest selection of arcade games. The Playcentres catered for children between five and sixteen, and was crucial to building friendships in every neighbourhood in the new town.
Below: Gossops Green F.C. - Winners are Grinners!
Diversity of tenure, mature incidental landscape character and the mixture of community uses were crucial to the success of those early Crawley neighbourhoods – and my experience of growing there has had a lasting impact on my personal and professional life. It has made me a strong advocate of diverse tenure integration and collaborative design with local communities. It’s also given me an appreciation for the crucial importance of community uses in residential masterplanning. These values underpin our work with Nationwide at Oakfield, Swindon, where a community-led masterplan for 239 homes is supported by a resident’s hub, café, a new park, communal gardens, incidental landscaped squares and a strong architectural identity derived from Swindon’s industrial heritage. I hope that this new neighbourhood is as influential on its residents and remembered as fondly as my own.
Tom Mitchell Associate Director, Metropolitan Workshop
Tom Mitchell is Associate Director at Metropolitan Workshop, having been with the practice since its inception in 2005. He has contributed to the design and development of several suburban projects, including Roding Lane (London Borough of Redbridge), Sunleigh Road (London Borough of Brent) and Oakfield (Swindon). Tom was instrumental in the development of the successful Wates/ RIBA Private Rented Sector Ideas Competition entry, which proposed a more socially purposeful allocation of land for communal gardens, allotments and recreation alongside retail and workspaces, as a new form of suburbia offering advantages for investors and residents alike. 56
STORIES OF SUBURBIA
BALLY– SUBURBIA JONNY MCKENNA
the need for a varied tenure mix to achieve sustainable communities and ensure vitality. How can we create new suburbs, or intensify existing ones, which respond to demographic and social need when the pressure often comes from maximising efficiency by generating easily repeatable forms which may not offer ideal accommodation for everyone? My childhood experience seems to reflect wider trends towards the suburban in Dublin during the period. Fittingly, I went to a suburban university. University College Dublin unthinkably abandoned the city in the 1960s in favour of the leafy, if brutalist, Wejchert Architect designed sprawling campus.
Suburb: Ballinteer, Dublin
The idea of presenting an alternative version of suburbia was not really on anyone’s agenda during the late 90s and early 00s. The priority was to repair Dublin’s core (see Group 91’s work at temple Bar for example), which had been largely overlooked during the relentless drive outwards however twenty years on the focus has shifted. The generation who were raised in suburbia during the 1970s and 80s are now turning their attention to how a future suburbia might be for the next generation. Polycentric development and densification are on the agenda, but there is a lot of heads buried deeply in sand when it comes to acknowledging that making a success of increased residential density requires an integrated strategy for multimodal transportation.
I GREW UP IN A SUBURB called Ballinteer. The edge of our estate was the beginning of the Dublin Mountains. There wasn’t a brick, or more fittingly, a pebble-dashed rendered block beyond. I was raised during a period of significant migration to Dublin from the countryside. It seemed everyone who grew up on my estate had at least one parent with a rural background, perhaps lured to suburbia in part by its watered-down version of the garden city ideal that offered proximity to the urban centre and an echo of a familiar rural setting. In this way they differed from the inner suburbs of Crumlin and Finglas which were largely built to aid inner city slum clearance. This suburban population growth was not lost on the schoolyard wags who used to joke: Why is Ireland’s capital the biggest city in the world? Because the population keeps Dub-lin, and Dub-lin, and Dub-lin. The punchline would ring truer if its subject had been the proliferation of suburbs, so critical were they to the accommodation of the city’s increasing numbers. Today, Ballinteer has been encircled by the M50 motorway. It is now considered an established community with newer estates beyond however the natural boundary of the mountains has, for now, halted Dublin’s southerly push, forcing suburbia to spread westward instead. There are over a thousand houses on my estate (I still claim some sort of ownership as my parents still live there). Most houses looked the same, a mix of three- or four-bedroom semi-detached homes typical of any suburban housing estate in Dublin. Mostly pebble dashed they represent an uncelebrated style in a period of transformative Irish homebuilding. The striking uniformity of housing across Ballinteer and its sister estates has resulted in a demographic lacking diversity. It was mostly young families who flooded into the new neighbourhoods in the 70s and as children got old enough and left home their parents remained. For some years, an elderly population dominated the estates, before being replaced by new families again. As an architect this offered an early lesson on
Above: Aerial View of Ballinteer Estate. Below: View of street in Ballinteer Estate with mountains beyond.
We are still very wedded to the car which is inevitably the hot ticket item at most consultation events. If we expect new developments to have denser configurations with reduced car numbers this has to be balanced by improved, viable alternates to transportation (for example our work on the Sword’s expansion plan from a population of 40,000 to 100,000 largely hung of the delivery of Metro North). Thinking about and delivering on these larger-scale issues is not easy, especially when it involves questioning what dominant forms of suburbia offer now and considering new kinds of suburbia for future Dubliners. This may mean disrupting current, entrenched methods of production. Challenges and opportunities presented by the suburban way of life is so taken for granted, that change is likely to take a long time to happen: years, decades and in some cases generations. We all (architects, developers, citizens and politicians) need to work, very hard, to collectively take on the difficult issues ensuring we create new, interesting and diverse suburban places while successfully reviving old ones. In rising to this challenge, we must not lose sight of why we do this and what a suburb should be. Like many other Dublin suburbs (Ballyfermot, Ballbrigan, Balgriffin, Ballybrack, Ballymun), Ballinteer takes its name from the anglicised version of an Irish name: Baile an tSaoir. In the Irish language Baile means Home.
Jonny McKenna Director – Dublin Office, Metropolitan Workshop
Jonny McKenna, joined Metropolitan Workshop in 2006, becoming Director of the Dublin studio in [insert 2017?]. As an architect and urban designer he has played a leading role in co-ordinating large-scale multidisciplinary teams to deliver masterplans in sensitive urban and suburban contexts such as the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Masterplan and the Swindon Town Delivery Plan. He is currently working on town renewal plans for Kildare and Newbridge, residential led masterplanning schemes for Clonburris Strategic Development Zone and a housing scheme in Ranelagh. 57
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
STORIES OF SUBURBIA the same time as the Span Houses, and they follow a similar model based on solid party walls and flexible internal partitions. Ours has a separate kitchen and dining room on the ground floor, a lounge, bedroom and bathroom on the first floor and two further bedrooms and a bathroom on the top floor. Some of the houses have been built, or been converted to have the larger front bedroom split into two. Others have an extra room on the ground floor used as a study. The garages for these houses are all grouped together by the entrance to the road and double stacked, making use of the change in level by being accessed from either side. The other house type is entered from the ground floor at the front with toilet and integral garage, kitchen and living space are on the first floor with level access to the garden at the rear, with two bedrooms and bathroom above.
A CONVIVIAL COMMUNITY RICHARD ROBINSON
Below: The new extension - Joint 3rd in the NLA’s Don’t Move, Improve! competition (2019)
There are several features of our house that made the decision to extend rather than move that bit easier. High ceilings, full width windows with lots of natural light, and no load bearing internal walls made it easier for us to change things around. We are an end of terrace and had a small wedge-shaped space to the side of the house that we had been using for a shed but that always seemed to offer some greater potential. Because of the way the rows of terraces relate to each other and work their way up the hill the footpath to the houses along the side of ours is 1.2m higher than the floor level, so we could hide a big volume behind a retaining wall. We kept to single storey to reduce the impact on our neighbours and to make planning easier. The wedge-shaped plan has led to an interesting folded roof form and the opportunity for extra light from a new rooflight. The extension means that our two boys now have their own room with a study/ guest room on the ground floor. We also have a separate utility room for doing the washing, and a ground floor cloakroom that means my parents don’t have to tackle the stairs when they visit.
Suburb: Forest Hill, South London I LOVE MY STREET. We have lived in this three storey townhouse since 2006. We are at the top of a hill, so we have distant views over South London, looking East and into Kent. We are awoken by the sunrise with light streaming into the bedroom. There are no views to the West, as the garden backs onto a Victorian garden wall and tall, mature trees. Our home is the end terrace stepping down the hill, overlooking the mount, a small, sloping communal green space with a few trees.
summer BBQ and bonfire night, along with the close proximity of our homes ensures that everyone knows everyone, just enough to make a strong community with some getting more involved than others. Lots of us have children of a similar age and share childcare. Many work in the creative industries and a number, but not all, share similarities in age, broad political outlook and world view. Some have lived here for thirty plus years and others’ less than one. In short there is enough of a mix to keep things interesting and we like our neighbours. Perhaps there is a type drawn to houses of this age and style?
The common parts of the estate are owned and managed communally by all 31 households. We pay a small monthly service charge for gardening, maintenance and repairs, and crucially there is a management committee made up of residents. The AGM,
The steep slope of the site creates a character of its own. There are two repeated housing types within the same broadly 5m x 8m footprint all arranged as terraces of between five and eight homes. There is one flat above a row of garages. The estate was built at around
Until I wrote this article, I hadn’t really thought about what suburbia means to me. What has become apparent is that for me suburban living is about living in relatively close proximity to people that I both know and like. We have our own space but the physical openness of the houses, the layout of the terraces, the relatively small number of homes, and the shared external areas means that small, informal interactions most importantly in person, but also more recently through various forms of social media, are easy and part of every-day life. There is also something familiar with my early experiences of living in suburbia. My first home was an interwar semi-detached house with bay windows in Birmingham, where I knew every child on the street, as my children do now. At eight, we moved to a brand new housing estate, on a cul-de-sac, next to the primary school I attended. We knew everyone on the street here too. Only last year my parents downsized after nearly 40 years – and some of the original owners still live there!
Richard Robinson Studio Manager, Metropolitan Workshop
Richard has worked in architecture and communication for the last twenty years. As Studio Manager, he is responsible for improving the appearance and operation of the office, organising social events and ensuring that staff are having fun! Previously he worked at MJP Architects, and Design for Homes. Richard enjoys dinghy sailing and gardening. He designed and built a shed to house a bicycle-powered radio station and a recycled plastic bottle greenhouse at his local primary school and helped construct two green oak timber-framed buildings at the local nature reserve.
STORIES OF SUBURBIA
CIDADE DA SEGREGACÃO ━ CITY OF SEGREGATION FEDERICA FILIPPONE
‘Above: Aqui podia morar gente’ (People could live here), a famous recurring mural in Brazil originating in Salvador de Bahia in reference to the housing issues all over the country.
I LOVED BRASILIA, it is a city that is so unique and exceptional. The city is a one-off, following unusual suburban and rural development processes, and was populated only by migrants, coming from all Brazilian cities and surrounding rural areas. First, they came to physically build the city and then moved there hoping for a quality of life. However, for many people after a few years, Brasilia revealed itself to be a let-down. Instead of becoming a city of hope, it became expensive and unlivable, because of it being the paradigm of modern city. Planned in accordance with Modern Movement concepts, it was a celebration of motorways and cars - which were a necessity for residents, at least those that could afford them. Despite the planned social-egalitarian attempt, the representative Brazilian city was arguably only affordable for politicians and their families, for public officials and well-off Brazilian people. Because of this, after a few years, poorer Brasilienses (habitants of Brasilia) opted to move to initially unplanned satellite cities bordering the Capital. These so-called cidades satellites and assentamentos rurais are the results of outward migration from the Federal District. So permanent have these informal settlements become, that they have become officially recognized with sponsorship from government institutions, after considerable pressure from their citizens. Suburban cities like Ceilândia, Taguatinga, Planaltina
represent residents’ search for more traditional and economically accessible cities. Unfortunately, their informal planning contributes to generate violence, criminality, hunger and poverty.
These social bonds also have potential to improve individual well-being and give meaning to individual achievements.
Brasilia expanded considerably to accommodate its vast green spaces resulting in the public transport required to connect the cidades satellites to the capital became so expensive. This produced a clear segregation between those with money and those without. This social segregation is a peculiarity of every Brazilian city, but in this case, it is still more evident as it happens between different cities and not within boroughs, like Rocicha and Barra da Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro. The process of outward migration has been so consistent that Ceilândia is now a city of 400,000 inhabitants, Taguatinga, 220,000 inhabitants, and so on.
The key and the challenge to intervene as architects and planners lies precisely in being able to build on the sense of responsibility within the community. Thus architects can help by listening to those who live there and using their expertise to participate in their struggle. What is at stake is giving communities with a self-defined structure the opportunity to shape their own suburban environment, and contribute to a fairer city. Witnessing the lived realities of the Brasilienses and the organically developed cities they have created with determination and love, without the concern and interference of architects and planners, was formative. What this reaffirms is that the life of the city, so complex and compromised, presupposes the design.
Nevertheless, the social marginalisation has given rise to strong, cohesive communities that share difficulties and uncertainties. The realities of living here have produced a spontaneous desire of togetherness to compensate for the basic insecurity that is the paradigm of the place. The perception of similarity, interdependence and belonging to a social structure creates a strong community that people need to be a part of to manage their uncertain conditions.
In the UK there is a sense that in an urban context the architect is a facilitator of community visions. The community is encouraged to engage with the architect in the developing urban and social agenda. This underlines the importance of the role of the architect in the community, given their complex of working with existing communities and integrating new and old; a role that is a powerful vehicle for social integration.
Federica Filippone Architect, Metropolitan Workshop
Federica Filippone joined Metropolitan Workshop in 2018 having trained in Italy and Brazil. Her thesis work, JuntARQ: aiming to find a new way of living Brazilian rural settlement examined the marginalisation of rural poor communities around Brasilia, was selected for the Archiprix International 2017 and YTA Award. She has practiced in Italy as an architect working on housing and with complex archaeological sites. 59
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
STORIES OF SUBURBIA
SUBURBIA IN THE LEISURE PENINSULA GARETH BANSOR
Above: Site Plan of Birkenhead Park, designed by Joseph Paxton and opened in 1847.
Suburb: Greasby, Wirral I GREW UP in Greasby on the Wirral. Since moving to London in 2012 I have lost count of the times I have had to provide an accompanying geographical location for my origins. I have progressed from “it’s near Liverpool, over the River Mersey” to settling on ‘continental scouse’, the Gulf Stream warms the water you know! “Oh,posh scouse?!”, often followed by “eh, eh, calm down…”, is the nearinevitable reply. The Wirral is for the most part, idyllic. A hidden gem. Often beset by the bad publicity of its eastern edge. Towns like Birkenhead have suffered greatly over the last fifty years due to the constant decline of the Port of Liverpool. Away from this urban edge the suburban settlements are surrounded by green: woods, farmland, parks, and a beautiful coastline. Greasby is inland, a belt of farmland separating the village to the south and west from surrounding villages. This also includes Arrowe Country Park, with its brook and wood added by the Birkenhead Corporation for public recreation in the 1920s. The wood remains today weaving along the estate on which I grew up and accounted for many a lost Sunday afternoon searching for its endangered newts. This park is only one example of the municipal authority’s investment in the health and wellbeing of the new suburban residents. The more famous and urban Birkenhead Park, designed by Paxton and opened in 1847, was the first publicly funded civic park in the world and its design influenced Central Park in New York. Post-war suburban expansion would see development on previously agricultural land with Greasby becoming contiguous with the nearby settlements of Moreton, 60
Upton and Woodchurch to the north and east. This suburban neighbourhood served a few significant manufacturing plants, like Champion Spark Plugs, and would expand further due to its easy commute to Liverpool. My childhood home was within one of these post-war residential developments, at the end of Caulfield Drive. A three-bedroom semi that benefited from being on a corner plot. It had a generous front and rear garden, with a walled running between. Ideal for warring brothers needing some alone time to cool off. Built for private sale by speculative builders there was very little variety in typology within the estate. Most homes were identical: simple brick boxes with pitched roofs. Their bay windows were possibly the only architectural feature of note. Their connected garages a nod to growing car ownership and the developer’s aspiration to appeal to a more middle-class market. Space was really what your money got (100+ m2). Living spaces were cellular, but large and dual aspect. Sun glare on the TV throughout the whole day, is how I remember my living room and naturally, a serving hatch between the kitchen and dining room. Today that dividing wall would be the first thing to go if it were to appear on Love it or List it (I’m made to watch it, honest!). The hallway too was generous. Large enough to swing a dog (we didn’t have a cat) and on a cold winter’s morning sit against the storage heater and eat a bowl of Shreddies before school. Upstairs two large bedrooms, a box room for the youngest member of the family, and bathroom with separate WC. - where have they gone today? Well into the bathroom to save space. Not to forget an airing cupboard, shelves full of towels and bedding- ideal as a makeshift ladder to the loft hideout. Most of my memories of the home relate to the freedoms I enjoyed as a young child; just how easily and safely I could venture
from home. The rear garden backed onto Coronation Park, which no doubt facilitated my passion for sport. It proved the perfect setting to meet friends and a reconcile with my brother after school for a kick about, rounders or game of man hunt. So much fun from a simple expanse of grass. Allotments, bowling greens, tennis courts to its periphery encouraged a wider mix of ages, so all could get the best out of the park. Once old enough and proficient in looking both ways, crossing one quiet road also unlocked much more, full access to the shops. Haircuts and sweets on tap! The estate was simple, but well planned. Drives, not cul-de-sacs, maintained a legibility in a street pattern with simple routes in and out. The park served as its heart with additional green space at each street junction provided further places to dwell, or less optimistically youths to congregate. But definitely green visual respite from the surrounding black tarmac. All drives led towards the well-equipped run of local shops celebrated with a little square that formed the main gateway into the estate. I have fond memories of Greasby, and feel very fortunate to have had my own park. All children should have their park. My childhood in Greasby has undoubtedly influenced my professional outlook, making me realise the importance of access to shared, usable green space within residential design. It’s essential for encouraging healthy lifestyles and inclusive neighbourhoods. Today, it’s a key principle within every residential project we design in the practice, sometimes forming the core element within our vision for a new residential place. We describe the lifestyle offered to residents of our scheme at Campbell Park North, Milton Keynes as Living in the Park.
Gareth Bansor Senior Associate, Metropolitan Workshop
Gareth Bansor is Senior Associate at Metropolitan Workshop. He has contributed to the design and development of several suburban projects, including Gondar Gardens (London Borough of Camden) and Campbell Park North (Milton Keynes). Gareth is also leading the team developing a new suite of suburban modular homes for Engie, which work within a flexible homestead framework providing variety of house typologies with a hierarchy of shared landscapes including communal gardens, squares, courts and yards.
STORIES OF SUBURBIA
THE OTHER WAY IS ESSEX: THE SUBURB AND ITS SOCIAL POTENTIALS EWAN COOPER
Suburb: Leigh-on-Sea, Essex “I would like there to exist places that are stable, unmoving, intangible, untouched and almost untouchable, unchanging, deep rooted; places that might be points of reference, of departure, of origin.” Georges Perec (1974:91) “For our house is our first corner of the world. As has often been said, it is our first universe, a real cosmos in every sense of the word.” Gaston Bachelard (1992:4) IN 1997, I left Leigh-on-Sea, a sprawling Essex suburb on the Thames Estuary. I moved to London, to the first of many student flats, in whichever corner of the City suited my work and life as I studied and practiced interior design and architecture. Apart from a brief return to ‘Leigh’ for a job in 2001, I lived in London for nearly twelve years. My time there lead me to meet my wife while working for our diploma at what was then (appropriately) called ‘The London Met’. Two more moves down the line, we set up home in a small, but decent three bedroom terraced house in Noel Park. Wedged between Wood Green High Street and the North Circular, Noel Park is just about ‘in’
London. However it meant we could cycle to work in the centre, while enjoying city life, and yet we had enough room and money left to knock the house into shape and start a family. Now our daughter, Florence, is two and a half. I am writing this in my large new kitchendiner, overlooking a relatively big garden in my new house, back in Leigh-on-Sea, just a few streets from where I grew up. Our new home is yards from the Belton Hills Nature Reserve (we used to call it ‘Leigh Cliffs’), where I used to make dens in the summer and ride sledges in the winter. Returning to the suburb that I called home as a child has given my family a chance to rekindle lost connections, but importantly build new relationships with our neighbours and form friendships with the other young families that surround us. We are putting down deep roots, binding us to the place and affirming our decision to relocate. But as I start to unpick the decision to return to the suburbs, it occurs to me that there may be fundamental reasons for returning that are beyond the prosaic and inevitable forces, which pull at young, working families. My mother cares for Florence during the three days that my wife and I are at work, which is great for everyone. But we could have paid for childcare. We have a bigger house because money goes further and the air is undoubtedly cleaner but there are compromises – usually in the form of a kind of cultural deficit. It is possible, however, that there is something hidden in our decisionmaking that connects to a primal and deeper need, that London (or at least our corner of it) was unable to offer us. It is certainly the responsibility of an architect that designs for both the city and the suburb to interrogate these lived realities in the hope of revealing any possible fundamental value of each condition in the hope of becoming a better designer. Our old home at Noel Park (London Borough of Haringey) was built at the end of the nineteenth century by The Artisans, Labourers & General Dwellings Company, a puritanical Christian organisation behind several of the Victorian garden estates. The planned community consisted of two thousand houses, a church a school, and (critically) no pub. While the houses were well-built and there are beautiful moments in the bricks and turrets, with several attractive decorative features there was something missing socially that the absence of a pub hints at. This missing social element and the potential of suburbia to support a family-centred life is what drove us to sell up in search of the latent beauty of the suburbs. As an architect, I am aware that our new home may be considered less attractive or of less architectural merit than our old home in Noel Park. But this might be irrelevant when set against the potential of our new home and new neighbourhood as an adaptable shell
and place full of potential for our imagined future. Our walk-in-wardrobe has become a place for Florence to hide, her imagination is sparked by the shoe boxes, the domestic debris and the dark folds of the coats. The houses in our street are separated in, some cases by garages or side gardens, in ours by a shared alleyway. Will this become the place for new adventures and exploration by our daughter and our neighbour’s young son? The places for discovery extend beyond the end of the street and the cliffs to the shops and schools and swimming pools and gyms, and yes, pubs! The public house is a propagator for friendships and communities, and like all the others in the street, adaptable, robust, domestic and welcoming. It is a meeting place, a performance venue, a place to celebrate, to confront, to grieve and to console, a room for succour. Our suburban home, street and wider neighbourhood, centred on affordable, social venues, offer shared places that remind us of how much we need each other and how much the wider community has to offer.
Above: Florence exploring the in-between.
The suburbs offer families more than simply extra space, but the opportunity to enjoy space as a family and wider community. For me, the return to suburbs has offered my family not only the extra space to store a boat, a motor bike or a paddling pool, but the social space to consider using them and the opportunity to join in. The suburbs can offer further potentially cohesive places of encounter and growth, which the city, all too frequently, do not. Ultimately, my relocation to the suburbs was in the hope that Leigh will provide Florence’s first corner of the world, as it did for me. Reflecting on the sense of rootedness that my suburban life has given me, I am keen that residents of the suburban places I design have not only generous individual spaces within their homes but streets and greens spaces ready for adaptation, change and growth through play and communal activity. At Oakfield, Swindon we have pulled together the surrounding communities of Nythe, Park North and Walcot by creating a large public park and pedestrian connections with safely designed streets that are surrounded by allotments, a school (which has proposed to reciprocate by offering its new neighbours spaces for communal use) and a community forest. We have designed ‘homestead’ blocks around shared outdoor space with low private fences that give access to a communal world beyond the end of the private garden. The imagination of the new community will define the nature of the shared places, but the opportunity to embrace the yet unimagined is there. Thinking about my family’s own experience and my aspirations as an architect, I have come to conclusion that the best suburban places combine the stability required for rootedness and sufficiently flexible in their public space and public venues to enable new communities to develop.
Ewan Cooper Senior Architect, Metropolitan Workshop
Ewan has worked for ten years in commercial and domestic interiors and redevelopment and worked on a variety of public and private sector projects. His work includes large urban regeneration, mixed-use developments, community, healthcare and specialist housing for older residents. He is currently the Project Architect on Oakfield Village. 61
PROSPECTS #01 — A NEW KIND OF SUBURBIA
11.10.19 — 13.10.19
10.10.19 — Exhibition Launch Party
10.10.19 — Prospects #01 – A New Kind of Suburbia: First Edition
Metropolitan Workshop Tower Two, Fumbally Court Fumbally Lane Dublin D08 N2N8
11.10.19 — 13.10.19 Dublin Open House
2019 — Prospects #01 – Addendum: Reflections for Future Practice Capturing findings, thoughts and responses from a round table discussion
Student Showcase Exhibition Launch
Ballot Paper: Engaging Urban Communities Publication & Exhibition Launch
Acknowledgements This is Metropolitan Workshop’s inaugural issue of Prospects and it represents a renewed commitment in the studio to practice innovation through practice-based research, dissemination and collaboration between our studios in Dublin and London, and our collaborators beyond. The editors of this edition (Gareth Bansor, Neil Deely and Dhruv Sookhoo) would like to thank the members of our studio who have supported this publication and its related programme of events by writing contributions for hardcopy and digital editions, sharing professional and personal insights through case studies, project managing communications and events, and mounting the exhibition. Thanks to: Ewan Cooper, Rebecca Davies, Ivan Dikov, Jack Hughes,
Debbie Novak, Nick Phillips, Brandon Matthews, Jonny McKenna, Tom Mitchell, Federica Fillipone, Richard Robinson and George Wallis. Special thanks are due to Kruti Patel, for and delivering the communication and marketing element of our project, and Nima Sardar for supporting the preparation of our documentation. Innovation rarely occurs in isolation. We would like to thank those practitioners from outside the practice who have shared their thoughts on suburbia within our first edition, including: Grace Keeley and Michael Pike (Director, GKMP), John O’Mahony (Director, O’Mahony Pike Architects), Brian Moran (Managing Director, Hines), Dinah Bornat (Co-director of ZCD Architects), Mark Latham (Regeneration Director,
Urban Splash), Jo McCafferty (Director, Levitt Bernstein), Madeleine Waller. We would particularly like to thank David Prichard (Co-Founding Partner of Metropolitan Workshop and MacCormac Jamieson Prichard) for his encouragement and insight in relation to our exploration of the historic development of Milton Keynes. We look forward to adding further contributions from leading practitioners in our second edition. Thank you to Simon Rhodes, Andy Syson and Jim Hough at Smiling Wolf for helping to develop the distinctive look and feel of our Prospects series. Thanks to Lee Mallett at Urbik for helping to refine our language and thinking.
A New Kind of Suburbia Exhibition
11.10.2019 — 13.10.2019
ADMISSION FREE Open 11am – 5pm Tower Two, Fumbally Court Fumbally Lane Dublin D08 N2N8
Each research project will begin with an issue of Prospects, a set of proposition papers that will constructively challenge our thinking, an...
Published on Oct 14, 2019
Each research project will begin with an issue of Prospects, a set of proposition papers that will constructively challenge our thinking, an...