Housing development, Somerset, England
A project for 79 dwellings on the edge of a town in Somerset. The site is butterfly shaped in plan so our approach has been to bring access in at the narrowest point and to create a site of two halves; one centered around a village green-like space and the other focused on a semi-hard square. Plots are arranged around the perimeter of the site allowing views over the surrounding fields and the majority of dwellings are terraced or linked.
Long built forms help to define strong shared space, and the proximity of their fronts to the highway mitigates for untidy front gardens and provides security by outlook and a sharper sense of community. Precedents for order and repetition making generous public space may be found in Georgian Bath and Edinburgh. The London terrace and the centres of rural villages are dense and proximate. All of these places are popular and loved.
There is a place in La Flotte near La Rochelle which is elegant while empty but begs impromptu inhabitation or gathering. This is the atmosphere we envisage for our gravel square. This space is hard-landscaped with shared cobble and gravel surfaces and a semi-formal planting arrangement of trees. The square also preserves the existing protected trees and opens up at its south-eastern corner to allow views across the fields to the church at Ansford.
The houses surrounding the square are slightly more formally arranged than on the rest of the site, with consistent facade lines and eaves / parapet heights helping to define the more urban space of the square. Visitors’ parking is also accommodated on the square.
The northern village green is a less formal, soft-landscaped triangular space, surrounded by smaller houses in a more informal architectural style and arrangement. The planting to the green is to be naturalistic in style and should employ native species to encourage biodiversity. A pond is proposed which could help to mitigate rainwater runoff as well as being an attractive feature in its own right.
Moving through our masterplan one encounters gables, articulated as pediments, at various scales from the whole building to the door case but always with a recognisable and consistent pitch. While strictly ordered the buildings are generally encountered obliquely, with protruding and recessed volumes.