Wates Housing


The initial stage of this project was a masterplan study for a large potential housing site. The site was naturally divided into ten distinct areas by existing trees, paths and a steep bank. These were topographical challenges that ruled out conventional off-the-peg developer's housing. The first building phase proposed was for 130 houses, intended for middle income groups and Team 4&'s pilot studies proposed a high-density solution with the houses arranged in terraces on either side of a central hard-landscaped parking court. And like their earlier waterfront housing in Cornwall, the houses were 'dug-in' to the sloping site, with cars and pedestrians segregated so that the paths on the estate could be kept free of vehicular traffic.

Within the masterplan the existing landscape features were, as far as possible, preserved or manipulated to achieve a strikingly well-ordered site layout. A densely wooded strip running along the centre of the site was retained and developed as a pedestrian spine with a network of paths running through it; shorter spurs lead off to each of the housing areas. Interconnecting open spaces accommodated children's play areas and allowed a richer variety of walks through the trees together with more direct routes to the local railway station, bus-stops, schools and shops.

There were two main house types, the first of two storeys and three bedrooms, the second of three storeys and three to four bedrooms. Both were traditionally constructed with flat roofs and the influence of Serge Chermayeff's planning theories is apparent, with a clear hierarchy of spaces leading from the public to private realms. The elevational treatment of the terraces reinforced the conceptual progression from communal 'hard' areas, via private entrance courts to the houses and out on to the 'soft' gardens facing the woodland. On the hard side the windows were treated as holes punched in the red brick walls, reflecting a defensible, mews-like urban character; while on the garden side the glazing stretched in horizontal bands from party-wall to party

Area: 279,233 m²