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Terraced housing will continue to reinvent itself

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I was encouraged to read your article on ‘Contemporary Terraced Housing Types’ (AJ 18.10.07). The debate on housing should concentrate on the macro and micro elements of density, given that both ends of the spectrum inform each other. It would be easy to concentrate on the large and glamourous. Hawkins\Brown has designed one of the highest density schemes in London, Poplar High Street (pictured below), at 2,556 hab rooms per hectare, along with individual houses providing 12 hab rooms per hectare. Both projects were of value to the practice and were assessed on their own merits. I am cautious of density calculators and a formulaic approach to housing. The constraints of Secured by Design standards and the Housing Quality Indicator system seek to rely on housing as an activity, not as a place. When engaging with these standards I remind myself of this regularly. The selection of terrace types in your article sought understandably to give
rise to expression elsewhere, as the formal spatial arrangements were to a large degree

I remain mindful of the heritage of the terraced house: the two-up-two-down house of
multi-occupancy, not to mention its reinvention as the Georgian townhouse. The development
of this housing type began to hesitate around the 19th century. The late Robin Evans in
his essay ‘Figures, Doors and Passages’ (1978) began to question the development of
domestic architecture since the 19th century, concluding that little had changed in terms of internal space planning.

Evans went on to suggest that measures employed for security and segregation (of space) could result in another definition, another architecture: one that seeks to promote the things that have been suppressed and that ‘give full play to the things that have been so carefully masked’. As a result I have faith in the ongoing development of the terraced house.
Wayne Glaze, director,
Hawkins\Brown Architects

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