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Revealed: Winning entries in AJ/Barratt Home of the Future contest

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The AJ exclusively presents the ten shortlisted schemes in the Home of the Future competition.

Imagine that you’re asked to come up with a design for a new home: a design for the mass market that pushes against the tried-and-tested approach of a leading volume housebuilder while simultaneously recognising the tight constraints of its business model. Not easy is it? Now imagine that you must also do this for four separate types of household and must factor in futurology by considering the demographic and technological changes which will affect this market in the next five to 10 years. That was the fiendishly difficult brief set by Barratt Homes and the AJ in our Home of the Future competition.

The contest was devised as a means of responding to rapidly changing patterns of household formation and consumer taste by harnessing the ‘creativity and innovation’ of architects. Launched in April, it immediately garnered huge interest from AJ’s readership. In August, 10 practices were shortlisted and asked to develop and fine-tune their designs ahead of a final judging session held the following month at the RIBA headquarters in Portland Place.

There, a judging panel including three senior figures at Barratt and three external design experts invited to take part by the AJ were wowed by the quality of ideas presented and – in many cases – the superb execution of those ideas. Two commended practices – HLM and C4 Architects, will be reimbursed to cover their competition costs of up to £10,000 each. The winner, HTA Design, will receive repayment of its costs up to a maximum of £20,000 and Barratt now intends to work with HTA to establish how its ideas can be incorporated into future designs that will then be tested with customers. Ultimately this process, the housebuilder believes, could ‘set new standards for new built properties across the UK’.

Here we present highlights of the work produced by the 10 Home of the Future shortlisted practices. Just imagine living in one!

Will Hurst, deputy editor, The Architects’ Journal

Judges

Will Hurst, deputy editor of the AJ (chair)

Michael Finn, group design & technical director, Barratt Developments

Jeremy Hipkiss, group head of sales & marketing, Barratt Development

Alastair Baird, regional managing director for London, Barratt Developments

Clare Devine, director, Design Council Cabe

Gus Zogolovitch, managing director, Solidspace

Philip Marsh, director, dRMM Architects

Winner: HTA
Commended: HLM
Commended: C4 Architecture
Levitt Bernstein
ZCD
Langstaff Day
Urban Salon
SuperGreen Architecture
Place by Design
Artform Architects

Winner - HTA

HTA_BARRATT_HOMES_1

At the heart of our proposal is the ‘semi-wide’ frontage which seeks to take the best features of a double-frontage house – in particular the two dual-aspect reception rooms – and develop it to sit within a more economical plot and house size.

The first-floor circulation space can be reduced and integrated into the living space to make the home feel more spacious. Specifically the space over the stair can make the upstairs living area appear around 20 per cent longer.

The first floor typically has more opportunity for daylight than the ground floor because it is less impacted by adjacent obstructions such as other homes or trees, and also because we can introduce 
roof windows to bring light into the centre of 
the home.

It is easier to ventilate a living space that is split over two floors as it allows the stack effect to support a greater degree of purge ventilation. Our designs combine this with dual- and triple-aspect arrangements that further increase the ability to create natural ventilation.

The first-floor living room enjoys a good outlook across the surrounding landscape due to the improved angle and the reduced impact of obstructions. This improved outlook also provides better surveillance of car parking, streets, parks and open spaces, and follows the principles set out by Secured by Design.

Locating an element of living space on the first floor allows us to exploit the roof space and create increased floor-to-ceiling heights. This can be achieved without increasing the overall height of the building or requiring longer stairs. This step creates a dramatic and unique sales point, combating one of the frequently expressed advantages of period properties’ generous floor-to-ceiling heights.

The split-level living space locates one bedroom on the ground floor, making it more accessible and making more use of the large ground-floor bathroom. Both are part of the Lifetime Homes standards, and will soon be required by category 2 of Part M of the Building Regulations (for homes of three or 
more bedrooms). To make the most of this space we located it next to a bedroom, so it can also function as an ensuite shower room.

We think that these are just some of the benefits to splitting the living space over ground and first floor, with others including greater opportunities and flexibility in elevation design, and market differentiation from both other volume housebuilders and existing housing stock. We are also optimistic that further development of the types will yield benefits such as the ability to incorporate an integral garage with less detriment to the streetscape, greater accessibility to storage (part loft spaces) and adaptability to provide a mezzanine space over the stair.

We recognise that this arrangement might not be for everyone so we have designed each home with alternative plans featuring more conventional ground-floor living spaces. The home can be reconfigured within the same footprint and an alternative that uses a narrower plot of five metres.

Our designs are intended to be modern while grounded in British traditions. The homes have been developed from first principles to provide light, space, flexibility and storage tailored to modern lives

Judges Comments:

Ample open-plan living space is delivered through maximising usable floor area and actively reducing wasteful circulation space. The range that HTA designed applies some very simple principles rooted in what customers want – a winning combination.
Jeremy Hipkiss

This was the most comprehensive submission, providing a range of strategic future housing insights that could be readily adopted within the next five years.
Clare Devine

I was impressed with the bedroom and accessible shower room on all the ground floors, as well as plan forms that reduce back-to-back distances and overlooking by not relying on fenestration looking directly to the rear. Technically, the houses have been well thought through; overheating has been considered with passive stack solutions and daylighting provided at different times of day.
Michael Finn

The designs perfectly balance the complexity of delivering housing at the macro and micro scale. The submission encompasses solutions for delivering higher density in suburban and rural areas while understanding how small changes in details could reduce the likelihood and effects of falls in the elderly.
Philip Marsh

I felt that this submission responded best to the brief. The innovative split level works well in this context by freeing up circulation space and making the usable space in the homes larger than normal.
Gus Zogolovitch

 

 

Commended: HLM

Hlm_Barratt_3

The home of the future is one that not only responds to statutory requirements but reflects the changing needs of the people who inhabit it. Housing is one of the biggest challenges facing the UK: homes are considered to lack space, daylight, outside space and sufficient storage. Our designs tackle these fundamental issues and provide a model ‘Home of the Future’ for the mass market.

Good design can help people to achieve more fulfilling and productive lives; bad design and a lack of space can impact basic lifestyle needs and affect family relationships, health and educational achievement. HLM believes that it is increasingly difficult to divide residents and their design requirements into simple categories, but we appreciate that Barratt Homes has identified their key customer groups. We have designed our house types based on these categories, identifying where they overlap with other groups, allowing Barratt to expand its consumer base with fewer variations of a standard model.

All homes are designed to meet the requirements of current and foreseeable regulations, including nationally described minimum space standards, Approved Document M Category 2 (replacing Lifetime Homes standards), Approved Document L1A, Building for Life and Home Quality Mark.

Our design allows complete flexibility. The house can be used in any context, urban or rural, and in any configuration, terraced, semi-detached or detached. Depending on the buyer’s needs, the plot may have a large, private garden or a small terrace with access to a larger, communal outdoor space.

Stairs and circulation are conceived as a separate entity from the main living spaces. By pulling the stair out of the constraints of the main plan, the living spaces are freed up to be flexible and adaptable. This circulation space acts as a transition between inside and outside, provides a direct route from front door to rear garden, creates an exciting sense of arrival and allows light to permeate into the middle of the dwelling.

Storage and utility spaces are integrated into the house in the circulation core and via a service wall separating the circulation and living spaces. Careful design of adequate storage allows living areas to be used as their primary function, free of clutter.

A large, flexible living space at the core of each home affords the opportunity for householders and families to interact with each other on a day-to-day basis and creates spaces for entertaining friends. Large living spaces can be subdivided using sliding partitions to create private spaces. Bedrooms are designed to be larger than the minimum, to allow use as a private, social space.

We have designed an efficient plan that utilises tried and tested construction methods and materials, and we believe by reconsidering the approach to neighbourhood planning it is possible to increase density to achieve best value from the land.

Homeowners are more conscious than ever of their impact on the environment and the rising cost of energy bills. High levels of insulation and airtightness, coupled with simple passive and technological solutions, will reduce energy demand.

 

Judges Comments:

An interesting approach that challenges how internal and external spaces can more be readily connected within the home environment and across sites.
Clare Devine

The flexibility of these designs to be used in any context and in any configuration was an attractive concept.
Michael Finn

HLM’s submission challenges the traditional layout of the home by finding a solution to family clutter – take it out of the living space and give it an area of its own in what we traditionally associate with a hallway. This solution is very appealing, particularly as it addresses the practical needs of family life.
Jeremy Hipkiss

The distinctive principle of the house design is a ‘vestibule space’. The vestibule, composed of stairs and circulation, provides the missing component of a contemporary home. A bolt-on element pulled away from the constraints of the main plan, it acts as a transition space from outside to in, offering all the associated facilities needed for muddy boots, bins, toilets, garden access and vertical circulation to the bedroom level.  
Philip Marsh

I really liked the idea of creating a separate stair core to free up space in the rest of the plan – allowing great flow through the downstairs. It also means that the stair core could double as a robust indoor/outdoor place to store items, which is such a pain for most modern households.
Gus Zogolovitch

 

Commended: C4 Architecture

C4_Barratt_1

 

Our approach to these designs was ‘fabric-first’, in light of future changes to the Building Regulations, sustainability guidance and the government’s push for zero-carbon homes. The houses are therefore extremely thermally efficient, airtight and perform far in excess of current Building Regulations. Using the latest technology in affordable home automation and connectivity ensures that the ‘smart home’ provides a living experience personalised to each homeowner, and is easily adaptable or upgradable.

The design responds to the needs of homeowners, as illustrated in the findings of the RIBA/Ipsos MORI report The Way We Live Now and recommendations by the Future Homes Commission, which place importance on daylight, space, storage, privacy and noise. The house types are future-proofed by creating opportunities for adaptation and expansion at a later stage to suit the various customer types that may live in each house, and they are all designed using Lifetime Homes requirements. All of these features help to create a home that is both innovative for the current market and prepared for the future.

We developed a masterplan that shows how the four house types could work within a development. A variety of arrangements adds diversity, and privacy is attained through the design and orientation of each dwelling.

Each house has amenity space to the front and rear. This allows for a buffer to the street, parking and an enclosed storage structure for bicycles, recycling bins and car-charging points. The space to the front of the homes also increases the opportunity for social interaction with neighbours.

As part of a development it is envisaged that open, green spaces, walking routes and allotments could be provided. All of these would contribute to community integration, creating an enjoyable and sustainable place to live.

Space standards are based on the London Housing Design Guide as it is envisaged that the rest of the country will adopt these principles in due course to ensure design quality and quality of life. Due to the houses’ structural system, all spaces within the walls and roof can be utilised, allowing for high floor-to-ceiling heights at the upper levels. This additional head room creates a larger sense of space, as an alternative to the extra cost of creating bedrooms with a larger floor area.

Included in plot areas is amenity space to the front and back of the homes. There are options to decrease this space in lower-value areas to achieve a suitable design. The terraced configuration of the C1 and C2 type houses also lets the developer provide a larger amount of smaller houses in a given plot. The flexibility of the terraced option permits a number of different arrangements, from a straight run to a stepped sequence, to fit awkward-shaped sites.

The sustainability measures used within the homes are proven systems in use within both SIPs housing and traditional housing types in the UK. We developed the sustainability strategy to work in conjunction with the Kingspan TEK SIPs structure and Control4 home automation system.

 

Judges Comments:

C4Architecture is the bright star in this competition, exactly what you hope to find: an embryonic practice which demonstrates the thirst and intelligence to challenge the establishment.
Philip Marsh

The fabric-first approach is well thought through and the fully integrated Control4 system, which allows their home to be controlled from anywhere in the world through a smartphone or tablet, is forward thinking. The brick detailing on the front facade is striking and contrasts well with the zinc and untreated cedar at the entrances.
Michael Finn

 C4 is a practice to watch. Its solution to our brief produced great layouts that address customer desires for flexible communal space and living accommodation. The design aims to maximise usable living area and uses simple principles to create a modular approach which addresses all customer groups.
Jeremy Hipkiss

These plans show potential for characterful street and site layouts. The submission provides interesting proposals for offsite and prefabricated manufacture to address both quality and speed of construction.
Clare Devine

I liked the separation of the stair core to allow flow through the floorplan. The stair to one side also allows an interesting terrace arrangement and the breaking up of normal flat-fronted terraces. This is all backed up by some comprehensive work around daylight and energy studies leading to a really solid submission.
Gus Zogolovitch

 

Levitt Bernstein

Levitt_Bernstien_Barratt_1

Good housing is a combination of great homes and inspired placemaking. In this competition, as in all our projects, we’ve worked from the inside out and the outside in. We’ve considered the priorities of each customer group, how they could tailor their homes to reflect their personalities and how their needs might change.

Twenty-first-century family life is complicated; the pace of life is faster and it’s not easy to predict what the future holds. When it comes to housing, the need for diversity and flexibility is clear – more choice at the start and more choice as time goes on.

We’ve thought about what our future homes should look like – how they will work together, form the basis of a thriving, mixed community and be kind to the natural environment. We’ve looked at how each house relates to its garden, made use of roofs for amenity purposes, and considered where people can discreetly park their cars and store their bikes and bins. Our homes are designed to work in any combination, and they produce beautiful streetscapes that aren’t dominated by cars.

A central dogleg stair is a key feature of all our homes. It means that the full width of the plan is available for living space at the front and the back of the plan, avoiding narrow rooms and pinched hallways. It also makes it incredibly easy to add an extra floor (or part-floor), so each house type comes as either a three-storey option or with a usable attic – a great way to get more space on the same footprint for relatively little extra cost.

With potential on-plot parking every home also has the potential to extend sideways. It’s easy to add a roof terrace or more accommodation above the parking space. It could be an extra bedroom or two, a master bedroom suite, home office, mini granny annex or extra living space. Here too, the location of the stair is another great way to get more for less.

With a housing shortage and labour and materials running scarce, modern methods of construction (MMC) must make sense. All of the houses in our collection could be built traditionally, but we think it would be smarter to save time and offer a higher quality, greener product by using volumetric pods. Stack them, join them and put them above cars to produce an endlessly flexible range of homes – now and in the future. Either a second floor, or sideways extension, or both, could be provided at the start
or in the future.

People love to dream and make plans. The ability to offer choice adds value in itself; particularly when buyers can see how easily it could be achieved in practice. It also means that each house type is suitable  for more than one customer group and that when families grow, they don’t necessarily have to move to get the space they need.

MMC requires a more disciplined approach to house planning but has allowed us to produce layouts that are simple, flexible, efficient and practical; no space has been wasted. Aside from the outer walls of each pod, none of the internal partitions are load-bearing – another big selling point.

 

ZCD Architects

zcd_barratt_2

ZCD Architects has developed the idea of one building that can adapt into four homes, responding to the four stages of family life as described in the competition brief for customer groups. Each home, derived from an identical base, is designed to grow and adapt over the lifetime of the family, according to its changing needs.

The homes can be combined in various arrangements to form a unique neighbourhood – the relationship of each home to its neighbours is carefully considered and arranged around car-free shared gardens that will be full of community life.

The homes have been designed to be adaptable to changing technology and to allow the community to be engaged in managing and controlling their shared environment so it responds to local needs and fosters a strong community. Over time, as the neighbourhood changes, each home will retain a sense of individual identity, privacy and arrangement of internal spaces that meet the family’s needs. The strategy for extending the home allows for customer choice within a guiding set of clear design principles.

The idea is to develop a unique construction system with Barratt Homes that will bring to market a building that is capable of growing and adapting over its lifespan. It will be designed to anticipate improving thermal performance requirements, as well as resolving structural, party wall, weathering and waterproofing demands in its abutments and connections. This process of developing and refining the idea to create a product that is marketable and profitable means the scheme has the potential to be truly innovative. As a home of the future it accommodates changing family structures, offers homebuyers the option of home improvement and provides external/shared spaces that respond to how people use such areas in housing schemes across the UK.

A single home can change from Type A to Type D. The base structure of Type A is a prefabricated timber cassette or metal sub-frame, clad in dark brick, with timber-framed windows. The volumetric construction method is simplified by the single base structure, which is also used in future additions and larger types. At the second floor, the structure is clad with timber boards and coloured composite panels to the walls and roof. The roof pitch is strengthened by the rigidity built into the stair core, freeing up the void allowing it to be used as a mezzanine sleeping or storage area.

Building on Barratt’s strong business model, an extended relationship with the homeowner that would continue beyond sale or be transferred to a sister company is envisaged. A revenue stream would be created from additions and improvements to the home as the family changes.

The aim is that planning permission would be secured in perpetuity, so the development can grow over its lifetime. A joined-up design, order, fabrication and delivery process ‘window’ would be offered to homeowners once a year. Orders for extensions would be fabricated within two weeks of confirmation and, with costs of approximately £2,500/m2, would provide a cheaper alternative  than moving.

Langstaff Day

Langstaff_Day_Barratt_1

We present a reinvention of the traditional terrace, designed to create homes that look to the future. The designs are arranged according to each of the following customer groups: first-time buyers, young families, older families and multi-generational families.

While there are distinct characteristics in lifestyle and domestic requirements for each of the groups, there are some features that are desirable across all households. These form the basis of our proposed strategy and are the glue that binds the different housing types together.

Our approach rethinks the street. We have rebalanced the car and pedestrian to create safe, walkable and sociable shared public spaces. The houses are orientated top to tail. The arrival sequence is one of equality however you arrive.

Every house is a two-fronted terrace. There is secure, covered onsite parking accessed from one side and pedestrian access from the other – there are no back doors.

We have created an adaptable multi-household system. The houses are equal in depth but vary in width to accommodate the different housing types. The mixture of house types can be varied according to need and location.

The houses promote both density of provision and a feeling of space. Generosity of internal volume alongside the privacy of integrated external spaces belies the efficiency of the plot use.

A distinct identity is achieved through the architectural language, massing and relationship of community and private space.

Community-building is encouraged through the mixture of households on one street, and the fact that every street is activated through the top-to-tail arrangement. The design of the top-to-tail terrace has been refined in response to feedback on the original concept.

Our innovative approach stems from the consideration of the design at all scales. We have considered the neighbourhood and how the strategy might fit into an overall suburban context. We have investigated feasible technologies and sustainable features that can be embedded in the design. We have developed the layouts of each house type with further consideration of each customer group’s needs. And we believe the top-to-tail terrace offers a model for an achievable, distinctive and flexible home of the future.

 

Urban Salon

Urban_Salon_Barratt_1

We believe space and natural resources will be our most precious commodities by 2020. Orchard housing responds to this pressure as it is organised to maximise yield from a limited space. Orchard housing is calm and natural.

Before 1820 traditional detached village living was the desirable housing type, a low-yield, rural and agricultural model where space is abundant and cheap.

By the 1920s this evolved into garden city suburbs, a medium-yield model where space and land value are balanced.
Orchard housing proposes desirable homes for 2020 within a high-yield model as land becomes an increasingly precious commodity. It retains the desirable qualities of Englishness and authenticity.

Sites are arranged in a flexible layout, around a shared orchard, at different sizes for low and high value areas.
Homes are sold in a choice of standard, wide and extra-wide plots. Houses are available in two or three storeys with a choice of side extensions to create 15 different configurations to suit different needs, lifestyles, sites and budgets.

House-proud first-time buyers might choose a two-storey house on an economical standard plot. Younger families, who want to put down roots in the community, might choose a three-storey house on an extra-wide plot so they have room to extend later. Families with older children, who need personal and family spaces, might choose a two-storey house with an extra-wide extension.

Multigenerational families might choose a three-storey house with a separate ground-floor flat, so they can support each other and pool resources.

Innovation is included throughout. The interiors continue the themes of Englishness and authenticity with a mix of new and familiar products brought up to date. Doors include fingerprint-activated locks. Tall, warm timber interiors include movable plasterboard walls for flexibility. Intelligent wireless energy monitoring and phone-enabled heating save fuel and money. A home office at the top of the stairs encourages home working and keeps eyes on the street.

Exterior materials include durable regional brickwork at ground level and solar panels integrated into dark cladding and roofscapes. Low-maintenance gutters connect to rainwater harvesting. Adjacent houses share pipework and service connections in party-walls. Distinctive natural stack ventilation updates the traditional chimney aesthetic and ventilates the house at night and when families are away without compromising security.

Recycling and composting facilities are provided at each front door next to a lockable cupboard for deliveries. Garages can be converted for work, play or the elderly. There is scope for self-builders to earn sweat equity by buying unfinished shell homes.
In the streetscape, shared porous paving, low-energy lighting, meadows and fruit trees all help create an authentic, durable and sustainable English orchard atmosphere.

Super Green Architecture

Super_Green_Barratt_3

The scheme by Super Green Architecture is conceived as a family of dwellings, going from a two-bedroom starter home to a six-bedroom multigenerational home. All properties share the same core, scaling up in provision of space to suit the demands of the occupants. The proposal combines sensitive passive solar design with a highly efficient external fabric to provide houses that address the key consumer concerns of natural light, fuel poverty and space for living.

There are four main drivers that have shaped the design: archetypical design, a standardised core, energy efficiency and flexibility of the site layout. Traditional vernaculars of the home, such as the pitched roof, chimney and material palette, have been adopted to appeal to the mass market. The aesthetics intentionally do not shy away from looking like an archetypical house.

The unit design is based around a repeating core consisting of a sheltered entrance and large hallway, a primary living space and an open-plan kitchen/dining room. These spaces are centred around a dual-aspect wood-burning stove. The repetition of common features benefits the scheme’s buildability by standardising recurring elements. Construction issues have been further considered by reducing the amount of brickwork through tile hung walls that blend into the roof, and using a timber frame system for speed of construction and to reduce the carbon footprint.

Both the scheme’s design and specification are uncompromising in their approach to sustainability. The units have been designed to achieve zero-carbon compliance. The buildings adopt a passive solar approach, with an extremely efficient thermal fabric and large glazed openings to reduce the reliance on mechanical heating. This results in a plan that is wide and shallow to maximise natural light penetration, while fixed solar shading prevents overheating during the summer months. Integrated solar electric and hot water panels align with windows and doors to avoid the appearance of unconsidered bolt-on renewable technology.

The proposals aim to provide healthy homes, not just low-energy homes. Intrinsic to the design is the inclusion of a vaulted stairway with rooflights to facilitate stack-effect ventilation and provide purge ventilation.

The scheme has been designed with flexibility in mind. The roof pitch and construction design allow for future habitation of the roof space. While the scheme is envisaged with predominantly south, west and east facing rear elevations, the unit layout can be adapted to suit any orientation across the site. Street frontage is provided by all units, with front-to-back living rooms allowing connectivity through the home from the street to rear gardens. The site layout demonstrates that the design can accommodate schemes of 35 dwellings per hectare.

Place by Design

PLace_by_Design_Barratt_3

The PLACE By Design ethos centres around resolving two current issues: firstly, being able to offer customers maximum ability to personalise their home; and secondly, to rethink the way the car is designed into the scheme as a fundamental aspect of any development.

Today we personalise our mobile devices, workspaces, personal image, modes of transport and our internal dwelling spaces. The house type designs we have evolved enable the housebuilder to construct a handful of units that have a large spectrum of different facade combinations. This allows people to select a house type that suits their needs and lifestyle. For example, a young couple trying to ‘get on the housing ladder’ will select the ‘first-time buyer’ option and then choose which type of facade appearance fits their unique image, connecting people and their house better than ever before. This process of reduced housing mix and maximum flexibility minimises delivery time and reduces construction cost through the simplification of units and their inherent elements. We strongly believe personalisation is the future for housing.

The properties’ envelope would be highly insulated, with heating and hot water supplied through a district heating system, making the most effective use of energy within a community. Centralising the production of hot water and heating and then distributing them to each house through a network shares the associated costs. The minimal heating required would be assisted by an air-heat recovery system, taking stale air from internal rooms and transferring it into fresh, warm air. This ensures every house is working towards becoming carbon neutral. The houses would have solar PV optimised at the most efficient pitch of 30 degrees, so every house can produce its own electricity to offset any taken from the grid.

The new Part M Building Regulations requirements could pose particular problems for large housebuilders. The changes mean that the internal areas typically used by housebuilders will become obsolete, as the new standards place emphasis on minimum space which many existing house typologies fail to meet. In addition, an increased focus on accessibility will require many open-market house types to be reimagined. All of our house designs include the criteria set for Part M Category 2. This includes minimum furniture provision, opening clearance, accessibility and adaptability for future users.

The construction method of the proposed units is envisaged to work with current and emerging standard building techniques. The designs are not structurally complicated, and thus are easily adapted to traditional, block-cavity or timber-framed solutions. By using base-block footprints the plans can be linked seamlessly, avoiding awkward roof junctions and associated detailing, and interchanged as required to create variety within the streetscene while maintaining a simple and where required, connected construction.

The designs enable a variety of finishes and facade combinations. Each of the four house types proposed can be plotted in a terraced, semi-detached or detached form depending on the context and layout aspiration.

Artform Architects

Artform_Barratt_2

Our initial approach to the competition was to look at the four different customer groups outlined in the brief, considering the requirements and aspirations of each and how these could inform the designs. But rather than designing one house type for each group as requested, we felt that for each customer group more than one house type could be applied. Consequently flexibility and adaptability are at the heart of each of the five house designs, allowing them to meet homeowners’ changing needs as their lives develop. 

The five different house types take the typologies we are all familiar with – terraced, townhouse, semi-detached and detached – and explore how these can be modified to provide a more successful solution to modern housing and 21st-century customer lifestyles. A key part of the brief was to design homes for the mass market over the next five to 10 years, rather than focus on bespoke architectural solutions for individuals. So while our proposals have a contemporary aesthetic with certain innovative elements, the overall format and appearance is not alien or unfamiliar to the mass market. Introducing subtle yet effective features related to materiality, form and internal configuration moves the debate on from the existing mass-market housing stock typical of the last 20 years.

The collection of house designs is intended to be seen as a family of homes, which have similarities in their appearance yet remain distinct from one another. As a result they can easily be placed within a wider masterplan to create a new neighbourhood and community with its own character and environment. A limited palette of materials has been carefully selected to fit within construction budget requirements and also provide a clean, simple appearance with broad appeal to different customer groups. While it was acknowledged that these would be mass-market designs, our proposal suggests that the houses can be made contextual by specifying materials to suit local context.

Internally each design focuses on light and space as the key factors in providing homeowners with a relaxing and spacious feel, high levels of natural daylight and a strong connection to the outside. Large areas of glazing are utilised where possible, along with ceiling heights of a minimum of 2.5m. Each of the five houses incorporates some form of external terrace or roof garden, and double-height voids are located over staircases and entrance halls. Room sizes all meet or exceed nationally described space standards with various options for how they can be used, depending on the customer group.

Alongside the individual house designs we also explored how shared communal space could be designed into a scheme as an integral part of a housing development rather than an afterthought. Our proposals include a landscaped linear garden which runs between the rear of houses and can be used by the local community for a variety of activities. It would be entirely free of vehicles, easy to maintain, well-lit and overlooked by the houses, giving the space a sense of enclosure and inherent security.

 

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