ELMSWELL AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Shortlisted Competition 2005

On the strength of our submission of interest in a contemporary re-interpretation of British vernacular architecture, we were shortlisted for a social housing development in the Suffolk village of Elmswell.

The brief called for approximately twenty homes of modest cost to be built in an existing green space. The site offered an opportunity to address the lack of definition in the outdoor space in Elmswell and to propose an architecture that could become a building type for other areas of Elmswell and similar villages. The language of our project was influenced by English suburban development of Sir Edwin Lutyens in Hampsted.

Conceptually, the project begins with a continuous band of brick wall which envelops three sides of the green and accommodates a pin-wheel arrangement of public access to the site. Rows of houses are then built behind this masonry band and provide a semi-private transition between the public and private realms. Bedrooms are at ground level. On the upper level are the living spaces and kitchen which enjoy views onto the public green. This arrangement allows residents to easily monitor activiy in the green from the living areas which have high ceilings and cross-ventiliation. The construction of the houses is timber except for the brick walls. Energy consumption of the units is greatly enhanced by a communal heating facility, super-insulation of the houses. Water run-off and site saturation are accommodated by a new reed pond in the public green and residential parking is concentrated in small lots at two ends of the site.