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Proctor & Matthews’ later living scheme draws on Cotswolds vernacular

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The 113-unit scheme for PegasusLife comprises of one and two-bedroom apartments arranged in a contemporary interpretation of Gloucester farmsteads

Known as ’Steepleton’, PegasusLife’s latest retirement housing scheme is located in the Cotswolds’ town of Tetbury, Gloucester and references the Gloucester farmstead to create a complex of almshouses clustered around open courtyards. The layout is surrounded by gardens and allotments in the aim of fostering a community-led environment.

Tetbury h 3358

As with all of the developer’s ‘Later Living’ projects, the driving force behind the design is encouraging social interaction in order to help maintain physical health and combat loneliness. Steepleton follows in the footsteps of RCKa’s Hortsley housing scheme, Coffey Architects’ Moor’s Nook and Morris + Company’s Wildernesse Estate. In 2017, Proctor & Matthews completed Chapter House in Lichfield, Staffordshire for PegasusLife.

All living spaces are dual aspect and corridors are a minimal length. Each self-contained unit contains living space, private kitchens and bathrooms, alongside generous private outdoor space and storage. Within each unit, sliding walls create a sense of flexibility and space standards exceed recommendations set out by the 2009 HAPPI report.

Tetbury o 3394

Cotswold stone has been used for the ground-floor level of all buildings, as well as prominent gable facades – the stone creating a uniform ribbon visually tying the complex together. Above the stone, a lime-wash coloured render has been used, the materiality referencing that of the local context.

At the heart of the scheme sits the Village Hall, a tall, barn-like structure providing a focus for communal interaction and social space. This building includes a residents’ lounge, restaurant, care and therapy provision, IT equipment and an exercise room opening on to an open-air swimming pool. These facilities, in addition to a street-fronting café and communal library, can be used by the wider community, encouraging interaction with the social infrastructure of Tetbury.

Tetbury sketch2

Architect’s view

The Steepleton layout is conceived as a contemporary interpretation of historic Gloucester farmsteads and draws on recent studio research into traditional almshouse configurations. We are particularly interested in the role that these historic courts play in providing not only a strong character and identity, but also an open communal focus which mediates between the public realm of surrounding streets and the privacy of individual homes. While often publicly accessible, the subtle yet structured demarcation of thresholds and boundaries helps to create a secure yet engaging communal place where residents can meet neighbours and the wider community.

Neighbourly interaction is a key project design objective helping to combat loneliness, which is recognised as an acute problem among older people, having detrimental effects on both physical and mental wellbeing.

At Steepleton the new homes are clustered around a series of seven open courts, each with a garden or productive landscape. This will encourage a sense of community, avoid the need for long institutional corridor circulation within the courtyard wings, and create dual-aspect living spaces to all homes.

Similarly, a series of cloistered timber loggias at ground and first-floor level provide generous covered places to rest, chat and share a pot of tea with neighbours. The focal open-air swimming pond may become part of a healthy living routine for some residents, but will undoubtedly provide an attraction for visiting grandchildren!

Local Cotswold stone is utilised on principal facades and garden walls using both dry-stone and mortared wall construction. These textured enclosures, like their historic precedents, help to nurture a sense of protection while providing a visual expression of local craftsmanship. Pronounced chimneys and twin gable walls become a repeating architectural motif. These develop a contemporary expression of the Cotswold vernacular and extend the historically important regional Arts & Crafts tradition.

Stephen Proctor, founding director, Proctor & Matthews Architects

Pm steepleton site plan

Client’s view

Set against the idyllic backdrop of the Cotswolds countryside, at Steepleton we wanted to create a real community where living socially was built into the very foundations of the development. 

To succeed in creating a holistic, socially inclusive environment, it was essential to create opportunities for daily interaction between our owners without any loss of privacy. At the heart of the neighbourhood, an outdoor swimming pool was designed to draw keen swimmers for an early morning dip, perhaps en route to the onsite café.

The interlocking courts that connect each apartment building to the lounge, spa and gym offer a variety of characterful gardens, including a kitchen garden, and make it easier for neighbours to bump into each other as they go about their days.

Pm steepleton ground floor plan

Project data

Start on site June 2016
Completion January 2019
Gross internal floor area 7,670m²
Form of contract Design & Build
Construction cost £23 million
Construction cost per m² £2,998
Architect Proctor & Matthews Architects
Client PegasusLife
Structural engineer Peter Brett Associates, Hydrock Engineering
M&E consultant Max Fordham
Planning consultant Barton Willmore
Archaeologist CgMs Consulting
Landscape consultant Camlins
Main contractor Speller Metcalf
CAD software used Revit

Pm steepleton tetbury section 2

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