The Architecture Foundation is to launch a new service in September to help architects and local communities cooperate on social housing schemes.
The Glasshouse Service will operate under the umbrella of the foundation for three years, after which it could become a separate organisation.
Edith Fekarurhobo, formerly a manager of the housing regeneration department at the London Borough of Ealing, has been appointed director of the service. 'It's about allowing residents to understand the language of architects and opening the box of architects to help them get the best out of communities, ' she said.
The service aims to run demonstration housing projects, send tenants on training courses and conduct research into best practice. The Glasshouse will also set up regional 'expert banks' of architectural firms, to be called upon as soon as community groups require their services - adverts are planned for the end of June to encourage practices with housing and community experience to register.
Fekarurhobo is keen to end the difficulties she believes often arise between architects and residents. She argues that architects should produce drawings and masterplans that tenants can easily understand and residents should have access to grants and courses that will help them better engage with the profession. In this case, training will be provided by the Chester-based National Tenants Resource Centre. It will run courses on 'regeneration and community involvement' and 'design and innovation'.