Park Hill by Hawkins\Brown with Studio Egret West
More Homes, Better Homes: The AJ presents twelve exemplar housing schemes
Reflecting on the past to meet future needs is, perhaps, another way to make ‘More Homes, Better Homes’.
With the regeneration of Park Hill (AJS 02.10), not only are we breathing new life into one of Europe’s finest mass housing projects but over the past eight years we have learnt what a remarkable structure it is and that, sadly, the profession is struggling to design anew with similar virtuosity.
Much like today, Park Hill was expediently delivered at a time of housing need, when Britain was gripped by post-war austerity and a similar ‘make do and mend’ mentality. But generosity of spirit and belief in the future prevailed to create something special, relevant and worthy of listing in the future.
We’ve learnt it was designed with dignity, intelligence and confidence. Though society was braver then, it trusted architects, planners and politicians to act expediently, creatively and with the interests and needs of the public at heart. At a newly transformed Park Hill we have responded to the emotional needs of ‘consumers’ as well as their pockets, to offer well-designed affordable homes that will have staying power, set within a neighbourhood and landscape that has a soul. Park Hill is a lasting symbol of our welfare state, reminding us of a time when simple, straightforward and long-held values in housing prevailed.
David Bickle, partner, Hawkins\Brown
Recommendation: Community In A Cube, Middlesbrough by FAT
There’s no place like home, but what does home look like? Certainly, the iconography associated with home is important both inside and out and FAT’s Community In A Cube (CIAC) questions our attitudes towards taste, class and image.
But CIAC’s beauty is more than skin deep - it addresses the context while delivering dense, high-quality homes, it’s green and the hope for a community that shares its values and will embrace the building is high. In this world of identikit responses to high density housing, it’s got balls.
Furthermore the squashed ‘bungalow’ on the corner reminds me of the witch’s legs sticking out from the debris of Dorothy’s hurricane-hit house in The Wizard of Oz - ding-dong!