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Britain's best residential architects pick their favourite housing schemes

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Part two: Alison Brooks, Richard Murphy, Simon Allford, Jude Barber and Richard Lavington and David Bickle pick their favourite housing projects in the UK

Jude Barber, director, Collective Architecture recommends:


Tigh-Na-Cladach, Dunoon, Argyll and Bute by Gokay Devici

Tigh-Na-Cladach, meaning ‘Houses by the Shore’ in Gaelic, sits boldly on the coast overlooking the Firth of Clyde. The development provides much-need affordable housing within the region, while also providing a workshop for a local forest group that provides education for people with special needs.

The project addresses climate change issues and growing fuel poverty through a closed-panel timber system, triple glazing and heat recovery system with very low running costs. In 2010 it was the first social housing scheme in Scotland to be Passivhaus accredited.

The houses themselves are carefully composed to provide a variety of external spaces and clean roof lines are vividly expressed against the dense, woodland backdrop. The chosen form and colour palette are reminiscent of gable-ended fishing villages, yet the project maintains a distinct identity that is at home within its context.

Alison Brooks, founding director, Alison Brook Architects recommends:


The Triangle, Swindon by Glenn Howells Architects

The triangle by Glenn Howells Architects is a rare example of extremely low-energy, low-density affordable housing in a suburban context with a very clear identity, sense of quality and place.

GHA has reversed the traditional masterplanning approach pushing the houses to the edge of the site and reducing private back gardens to create a large communal green space that serves a social purpose as well as providing space for integrated sustainable technologies.

The careful consideration of proportions and a crafted approach to detailing make The Triangle a true exemplar for low-cost, low carbon housing design.

Richard Murphy, director, Richard Murphy Architects recommends:


Donnybrook Quarter, Hackney, London by Peter Barber Architects

I was first intrigued by this project (AJ 31.08.06) when I saw it at the Royal Academy and the reality has fulfilled the promise. This is a very clever design which, while building at high density, gives every apartment privacy, private external space, and at the same time makes a delightful, car-free pedestrian street, well supervised by all the residents.

Unlike in our projects, the staircases are more private but the logic of placing a maisonette on top of a flat makes for a very generous roof terrace that also acts as the entrance to these apartments. The surrounding area of undistinguished, mostly post-war housing now has this almost Aegean village as a landmark at its crossroads.

Simon Allford, director, AHMM recommends:


Oxley Wood, Milton Keynes by RSHP

The best thinking about the home addresses normative ideas of domesticity and then develops proposals for place, promenade, construction and density. These best models are almost all urbane and urban. For that last reason I commend homes in that centre of research, successful and not, named Milton Keynes. Not just because they are prefabricated for £60,000; or because their acoustic design recognises the need for dwellers to live both separately as well as together; or because they pursue a ‘modern’ aesthetic.

Oxley Wood by RSHP is important because it challenges the ruthlessly efficient financial model of poorly designed clusters of dead-end boxes that choke the life from every village, town and city.

David Bickle, partner, Hawkins\Brown recommends:


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!

Richard Lavington, founding director, Maccreanor Lavington Architects recommends:


Peabody Avenue housing, Pimlico, London by Haworth Tompkins

I recommend Haworth Tompkins dignified new housing at the southern end of Peabody Avenue in Pimlico. The success of this scheme is the way it provides homes which meet current housing needs and standards in a building that sits so comfortably within its historic context.

The project provides family maisonettes with their own front doors. Straightforward architectural language respects both the context and Peabody’s heritage of good, ordinary housing. Above, two stair cores, each with its own lift, are linked, enabling wheelchairs access to the flats at an upper level. West-facing balconies on the opposite side of the deck provide a good private amenity and are great for train-spotters (!).

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