Communal Living, delivering housing diversity

A study trip to Amsterdam by the MArch and MAAD Communal Living studio at Cardiff University was the starting point for research into how housing typologies can support communal living in the widest sense. The studio visited the morphologically ambitious Wozoco and Silodam by MRDVR. On the way to Borneo Sporenburg we discovered Funenpark a collection of apartment villas in a shared park landscape and to the west the similarly arranged GWR Terrein. The studio also looked at work communities NDSM and Ru Pare. Recent models were compared to 20th century examples like the Duiker Open Air School built at the centre of a housing courtyard and Bijlmermeer the 60’s slab blocks now being reconnected with the ground. Honing in on recent co housing the studio studied apartments built in a serviced plots at Amstelloft and the exemplary Vrijburcht where 52 dwellings have been built by a co-housing group to also provide; childcare, a sailing school, café restaurant and shared gardens. Back in Cardiff we looked at published case studies such as Big Yard in Berlin with its two terraces across a linear shared garden and the New Ground Co Housing by and for senior residents and Collective Old Oak for young professionals in London.

The studio studied the land use arrangement and morphology of each type. These tissue studies are 4Ha or 200x200m, many of the buildings would suit a 0.5 Ha site. The recent NPPF called for Local Authorities to allocate 20% of land in smaller plots of 0.5 Ha – large sites are also beginning to propose 5% for self-build. The studies show how the different models of delivering housing that share land resources can lead to more diverse architecture and homes that have access to valuable amenities and enjoyable public spaces.

new Bristol and London mayors set out ambitions for progressive and inclusive cities

Since arriving in office this year the new Labour Mayors in London and Bristol are both working to reduce housing inequalities and increase the availability of affordable housing to ordinary people. These mayors understand that for their cities the lack of affordable housing and increasing wealth inequalities as well as being morally wrong have a significant social and economic cost. For Sadiq Khan in London, delivering genuinely affordable housing in new developments was such an important part of his election campaign that is was so called ‘a housing policy referendum’. He is planning to set a minimum standard of 35% affordable housing working towards a target of 50%.

But importantly these city leaders are also aware that to make a more inclusive city in future it will be important not to only consider housing but the wider built environment.In October the London Mayor published ‘A City for All Londoners’. This celebrates how London ‘attracts and integrates people from all over the world’. Issues of being excluded from the economic life of the city and the need to share “prosperity, culture and economic development” are identified. To achieve this the document highlights the value of housing with good transport accessibly and mixed use development to enable people to access housing and jobs, culture and social infrastructure.

Marvin Rees the Mayor of Bristol is also setting out an ambitious agenda for an inclusive city. He is developing strategies to share prosperity in a city where life expectancy can vary by ten years from place to place. He is aware that public institutions and public spaces can deliver flexible spaces to support; health, well being and social inclusion. The city is creating a housing delivery company and acknowledges the value of linking the creation of housing, education and health – with employment accessibly. In future Bristol plans to densify existing mono functional areas of housing creating not only new homes but building communities.


A City For All – Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees’ Annual Address and Debate 2016