High quality design is crucial say’s the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission

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Has there has been a shift in thinking about infrastructure planning and provision in the UK? One that recognises that ad hoc approaches allows regions and communities to get left behind.

The Government states it is committed to the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) launched this spring and has published a charter (12.10.16). the NIC’s role is to advise government to support growth, improve competitiveness and improve people’s quality of life. The Commission will carry out a National Infrastructure Assessment once every parliament, commission studies on pressing challenges and monitor progress.

It’s encouraging to see that earlier in September Commissioner Sadie Morgan (co- founding director of dRMM Architects) visited design studio Publica to identify four principles for integrating infrastructure planning with high quality design. They identified that good design is essential and cities can use infrastructure effectively to become ‘more liveable, sustainable, productive and resilient places’ by;

  • Increasing capacity for future generations
  • Creating liveable neighbourhoods (and cities)
  • Supporting and promoting density and diversity
  • Animating the ground plane and creating a sense of civic identity

At the event professor Sadie Morgan said: “As the National Infrastructure Commission seeks to transform the way we plan and deliver major infrastructure projects in this country, harnessing high quality design will be absolutely crucial.” It could be that the choice of Commissioners that includes expertise in; culture, transport, design, technology, regeneration and economics also sets the scene for infrastructure to be considered more holistically in future.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/charter-for-the-national-infrastructure-commission

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/national-infrastructure-commission-visits-publica-urban-design-team

Image: Stadsbalkon, Cylcle Park and Station Forecourt, Groningen – KCAP, NL

 

Who’s building housing with the kind of joie de vivre it deserves?

Who’s building housing with the kind of joie de vivre it deserves? Two custom build projects are being developed in Devon and Cornwall each developing different ways for buyers to influence the design of their home.

Localizing Custom Build, Trevenson Park, Pool, Cornwall, 54 custom build (part of 144 mixed tenure development), in progress completion in 2017

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HTA have designed a masterplan for new housing surrounding the Heartlands Park in Pool, Cornwall. The Park is itself a new project a ‘cultural playground’ designed around former tin mining works it was awarded £22.3 million Big Lottery Living Landmarks Grant in 2007 and opened in 2012. The housing development will create a new residential community around the park linking it to adjacent residential areas. A ‘not the village green’ to be designed collaboratively with residents.

The developer Igloo have selected by competition six architect led ‘home manufacturers’ to design kit houses for the custom build part of the site. These collaborative teams include Mae with prefabrication specialists Riko; AOC with Cathedral Builders; Ash Sakula with Easebuild and FrameUK; Dwelle; HTA Design with Potton; or White Design with Modcell and Cadfan. Based on the Dutch example in Almere, Igloo intend to developed this model across the UK sourcing different home manufacturers in each location.

A slice of Eco Life, Bickleigh Custom Built Eco Village, Devon, 91 Self build plots, in progress.

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This project is a joint venture between an experienced project manager and architect; Charles Everard and Bill Dunster. The site overlooks Dartmoor in Devon and is close to the village of Roborough. The 91 serviced plots are available for ‘kit homes’ provided by the developer or custom built homes where the ‘kit’ is adapted individually.

The homes will be insulated to give low heat loss at a U value of 0.15 W/m2k. This far better than current Building Regulations and is the equivalent of Code 6 ( the highest standard under the old Code for Sustainable Homes). The low energy fabric together with the integration of solar PV and a ‘heat hub’ drawing heat from a ‘solar loft’ for hot water will create a net zero energy home. To maximize solar energy generation the buildings are mainly set out along east/west facing terraces with roofs perpendicular to the face of the house or in short north/south facing terraces.

By advertising the project early on with a demonstration exhibition a ‘Slice of Eco Life’ in Plymouth City Centre the developer generated 300 expressions of interest in the project  and and secured 30 reservation bids for the first phase of homes. The price of a three-bed eco-home is likely to be £185-195,000. Community building is also an important part of this development. One of the first buildings to be built is an agricultural shed that can be used for the assembly of the kit homes and when the development is built out can be used for social or economic functions.