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Whitehill-Bordon eco-town: Lessons for delivering green housing

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Jury and participants reflect on eco-terrace design competition

Footprint recently attended a seminar on the ‘lessons learned’ from the Whitehill-Bordon Eco-town terrace competition. Chaired by Robin Nicholson of Edward Cullinan Architects and hosted by The Building Centre with the NHBC, the event highlighted the positive aspects of shortlisted schemes from the likes of Letts Wheeler, Proctor Matthews, White Arkitekter and Bere:architects.

The winning team, chosen by a jury of local councillors and experts, was headed by Ash Sakula, whose proposals for the three-unit terrace will form part of a pilot scheme for the development. Run in conjunction with housing group Radian, the competition’s main challenges were to design a repeatable unit that achieves a minimum of Code for Sustainable Homes Level Four, using modelling to demonstrate energy attributes. Most importantly, the competition called for sustainable lifestyle suggestions to be embedded into the buildings themselves.

Ash Sakula's winning scheme

Ash Sakula’s winning scheme

A key take-away from all entries was the importance of private outdoor space even when faced with a tight site footprint. Ash Sakula effectively incorporated this by fronting each house with a useable semi-private space. The presence of green technology in their scheme was supported by clear ideas of how the homes would be used and run by the occupiers, down to the detail of where washing could be hung. Worth a mention was Bere:architects’ impressive unit design that could attain Passivhaus standard at any orientation, making for very easily replicable homes.

Ash Sakula's winning scheme features a flexible open plan

Ash Sakula’s winning scheme features a flexible open plan

Going forward, Radian hopes to incorporate self-finishing as an option for new eco-homes schemes to ensure a sense of ownership, for example allocating a garden fund for use by residents. Room sizing was another big talking point; Ash Sakula proposed a more generous two-bed scheme, where all others had squeezed in three.

Competition judge Richard Partington commented that this made the proposal particularly refreshing when compared to housing standards in the UK, which all agreed are far too tight in comparison to European counterparts. The generousity of space and loose-fit flexibility of Ash Sakula’s scheme was deemed a real success, and it was suggested that employing these attributes will bring the industry closer to designing homes that are inherently sustainable.


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