We are delighted to announce that our community housing scheme for Bristol Community Land Trust (BCLT) and United Communities (UC) has gained unanimous support from councillors at committee last week!
The organisations partnered up to take on the challenge of developing the site and delivering an exemplar scheme for high quality, sustainable and affordable housing. BCLT are a not-for-profit organisation, established to develop affordable housing and community assets across Bristol and their partners, UC, are a Bristol based housing association.
Architype were appointed in 2015 to develop the scheme for 49 new dwellings that responded to the challenging site constraints and the wider Bristol context; creating a community of low energy homes with a range of shared facilities.
The abandoned and overgrown site in Lockleaze had a number of issues to overcome in relation to its steep sloping nature, the lack of vehicle access, and the existing ecology before a planning approval could be granted.
We carried out an extended period of workshops and public consultation events throughout the design process, as well as gathering learning and inspiration from visits to other co-housing schemes and community housing projects as far a field as Frieberg in Germany. You can read about Tom Mason’s visit to this sustainable model district here.
The scheme that was developed comprises a socially conductive neighbourhood of mixed tenure units, incorporating elements of shared accommodation and external space, as well as retaining part of the site as wild land. The units will provide much needed housing opportunities for BCLT members, as well as a number of mainstream affordable homes, all to be completed using self-finish methods carried out by members of the community.
The layout for the scheme is centred around a shared surface spine route that sweeps down through the site from north to south, giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists by keeping vehicles to the periphery of the site.
At the centre is a community square containing one of the two Common Houses, providing communal cooking and dining facilities, where residents can come together to cook and eat a couple of times a week.
The terraced houses and flats are strung along the contours of the sloping site, all broadly face south to maximise solar gain and pivoted to enable the frontages to address the public realm. The backs of homes contain and overlook the terraced private gardens and informal communal gardens that accommodate a range of activities such as quiet areas for picnics; play areas; fire circles and larger more open areas such as amphitheatre style seating for community gatherings.
Existing trees will be retained wherever possible and a wild area will be maintained to the west of the site against the railway line. The habitat will also be enhanced with edible planting and a SuDS system that includes an attenuation pond at the lowest point on the site.
Houses and Flats
The elevations were designed to enable residents to personalise their dwellings and create a characterful community, whilst also retaining a unified and cohesive overall vision with a material palette that is repeated throughout the site. Reimagining recognisable features, materials and colours from the surrounding vernacular allowed us to create a unique scheme that is rooted within its context.
The common houses are a key feature of the community and have been designed to be distinctive from the surrounding dwellings in their materiality and appearance. We have drawn on the self-build techniques used by Walter Segal to create simple and elegant timber frame structures that are designed around the dimensions of modern building materials.
The central common house is a single-storey structure, housing the communal kitchen and dining facilities. The timber joists are exposed internally, creating a dramatic light and airy feel for the communal dining area. The roof also has large overhanging eaves, supported by an expressed external structure, which creates sheltered seating areas against the facade and overlooks the public and communal areas.
The second common house is a three-storey structure, built into the hillside to allow level access into the lower ground floor plant room and the upper ground floor workshop. The workshop will provide a base from which residents can learn and practice the skills required for them to undertake the self finish element of their properties, such as tiling, painting and decorating.
This common house will also accommodate a communal laundry facility, a shared office space and guest bedrooms.
The houses and flats will be built to stringent ‘fabric first’ construction method and passive principles, incorporating individual MVHR’s in all of the units. A combined heat and power network is also proposed, which will utilise PV’s on rooftops and an air source heat pump to provide district heating and electricity.
The project is currently out to tender through the Westworks Framework and a contractor is expected to be appointed by mid October. The programme for delivery of the completed units is scheduled for spring 2019. We are very much looking forward to embarking on the detailed design stage for this exciting scheme.