January 20, 2013
Short description of 3 winning entries (Atelier 5, Kikutake-Kurokawa-Maki and Herbert Ohl), and one entry (Christopher Alexander) supported by a split jury.
Having covered the background of PREVI, a glimpse of the competition Brief and the resulting buildings, with particular reference to James Stirling’s proposals, were explored in my first Blog, now I would like to go through the original winning entries and their progress over last 40 years.
You would recall that the jury chose 3 winning projects from 13 International architects in 1969. Atelier5; Kikutake-Kurokawa-Maki; and Herbert Ohl were the official winners but there was a split in the jury and Centre for Environmental Structure by Christopher Alexander was considered by this jury to be worthy of a winner.
Jury thought that Atelier 5 scheme used an interesting method (possibly economical) of construction using pre-cast concrete panels small enough to be built on site and manhandled for wall and roof construction. They considered that two storey house plan appeared complex with patios and internal spaces. The external communal spaces and separation of traffic was well liked.
In a recent interview Alfredo Pini of Atelier 5 said that their invitation to PREVI was a result of their successful Halen project. They were full of praise for the aims, objectives and the process of the competition. The implementation of their 25 units took place in accordance with their plans but the distance and complexities made the involvement difficult towards the end. They were pleasantly surprised to see the attention and care given to external public spaces after decades of use.
Pini did not consider the present situation a chaos – “…it is a fine chaos. I have nothing against it – in fact, I positively like it. That is a positive drive…. The extensions and interventions of inhabitants were quite good.”
Kikutake, Maki and Kurokawa and Associates also used pre-cast concrete system with different loadings which also included foundations, again considered well worked out and likely to save costs. House plan grouped service areas with potential of local industry producing equipment/units for Kitchen, Toilets and storage in future.
The external spaces in this scheme also separated cars from pedestrians but some jury members considered the spaces were possibly too extensive for effective use.
Fumihiko Maki in a recent interview recalls the original brief. The large growing families would reflect the growth of houses, an important metabolist concept. He welcomed the changes to the houses but was concerned about the extra floors being built on modest original foundations in an earthquake zone.
Herbert Ohl scheme was problematic from start. Design was sophisticated use of extensive large pre-cast elements using complex arrangement resulting in a shell which could accommodate internal changes with ease and flexibility.
There was proposal for an underground ‘service spine and car parking’.
Minority jury disliked Ohl’s scheme and considered it regimented, inhuman and expensive.
The ‘travelling crane’ in their view became a designer rather than a useful tool.
Architect anticipated a democratic interchange between human and technological factors, stimulating multiplicity, flexibility, micro and macro relations; … all using dimensional and functional modules. The mobile crane was able to provide universal frame structure at any time without disturbing the community.
As feared, the complexity and difficulty of producing even a small part of this scheme failed to be built in the ‘sample’ project constructed under Peter Land’s supervision.
The science fiction approach may have been exciting to explore but was very unrealistic and removed from the objectives of the competition. I am surprised it was one of the 3 schemes chosen as winners.
Interview by Martanne Baumgartner and Tomeu Ramis, ETH Zurich.
This split jury thought that Christopher Alexander’s proposal was a ‘milestone’ which addressed the brief and Peruvian conditions and produced an imaginative solution for low income housing and offering maximum freedom of individual choice. The praise continued “….a freshness of approach, a commitment to the dignity and worth of individual , a recognition and understanding of the complex linkages between the individual, his family, his belongings, his neighbours and the entire community are implicit in each part of this proposal.”
The building system uses fewest standard components to provide maximum variety and choice of solutions… the proposed use of bamboo, urethane, and sulphur structural members may not be new or proven but was in keeping with the spirit of this competition.
It is difficult to explain the concepts behind the ‘cell structure’ of the housing layout in this short introduction but it is a fascinating report to study if you can lay your hands on it.
The house layout considers various traditional aspects of Peruvians social/living habits.
The house construction was aimed at using local materials and traditions where possible. The foundations were floating slabs supporting load-bearing walls and a lightweight plank and beam floor/roof. An ingenious interlocking mortar-less concrete-block for wall construction, reinforced with sulphur, with cavity for plumbing and conduits. The planks and beams are made of urethane foam-plastic and bamboo, reinforced with sulphur-sand topping; all are earthquake resistant methods of construction.
Information attributable to the following sources;
AD 4/70, Competition drawings and Thick Walls AD Feb 1968; Domus, April 2011,’ Metabolist utopia’; ‘The validity of PREVI, Lima, Peru, 40 years on’ by Julian Salas and Patricia Lucas.
Filed in 70s Housing, Architectural Competition, Courtyard Housing, Developing Countries, Housing, Housing for growth, Housing in 60s, Indigenous Architecture, Informal Urban Housing, Regeneration, Self-Build Housing, Social Housing, Town Planning, Urban Renewal
Tags: 60s Housing, Alfredo Pini, Atelier5, Centre for Environmental Structure, Christopher Alexender, Domus, Experimental Housing, Herbert Ohl, High Density Housing, Housing, James Stirling, Julian Salas, Justin Mcguirk, Kikutake- Kurokawa-Maki, Lima, Martanne Baumgartner, Modern Architecture, Patricia Lucas, Peru, Peter Land, Precast Concrete Blocks, Precast concrete Panels, PREVI, Rationalised Construction, Social Deprivation, Social Housing, Tomeu Ramis, Traditional Construction, Travelling Crane
December 12, 2012
Introduction to Architectural competition, Brief and building of samples of entries focused on James Stirling’s proposals. 1965 to present.
“PREVI, Spanish initials for “experimental housing project”, was conceived in Lima in mid 60s. In 1965 Peru’s Architect president Fernando Belaunde Terry began consultations to explore the ways of controlling the flow of people seeking urban living and spread of self-build informal barriadas in urban Peru. The proposals were submitted to UNDP in 1966 and approved in 1967. The work started in 1968 with the intentions of carrying out three pilot schemes over three years.
Three original winning schemes could not be built in accordance with earlier intended scale or details. In the end jury decided that the best way forward was to build all 26 submitted proposals because of their high quality. Most of the competition invitation work and implementation of building of 24 out of 26 schemes was masterminded and overseen by the British Architect Peter Land.
The forty years that have lapsed in the interim and the ongoing transformation of the homes by their dwellers afford an opportunity to reflect on the suitability of the construction technologies proposed in the competition. Ongoing growth and the rationalization of construction methods were two of the basic premises underlying the competition. The remodeling that has taken place in the interim stands as proof of the success of the first premise, but the use of traditional techniques to build the additions calls some of the most sophisticated proposals for industrialization into question. At the time, the tendency was to rely on large-scale industrialization, as can be seen in the German, British and Polish architects’ proposals. Nonetheless, many of the PREVI proposals opted for rationalizing construction and precasting short series of small elements, rather than huge three-dimensional members. In the situation presently prevailing in Latin America, the viability of some of the technological proposals deployed in the PREVI might be profitably revisited.”
Abstracted from a paper by : Julián Salas and Patricia Lucas (Italics additions by self)
The process of building in PREVI was originally intended for large scale provision of housing, which was to create a transformable core model with one room and provide basic utilities for the unit. The idea was that the new owners were free and encouraged to expand in accordance with the needs of their growing families and their own financial situation. In these new projects the hope was that rather then using salvageable and recycled materials suitable and dependable construction would be used and paid for by the owner/occupants. This process allowed the owners tenants to control their own social, family and cultural needs making them more involved and motivated towards the project. It was also hoped that the ideas generated by the competition would introduce new methods of creating energy efficient, seismic resistant and cost effective building techniques.
The architects and project managers under the lead of Peter Land took a holistic approach in building the fruits of this rare International competition for social housing.
“If Weissenhof Siedlung is the natural childbirth of social housing in the First World, PREVI is the coitus interruptus of Third World housing”
I sincerely hope that success of this project (although far from pretty in comparison with seductively dressed social housing schemes on offer in better-off countries) hidden in a remote part of world will offer useful lessons of construction and design to professionals and students with strong social conscience. The lessons should be absorbed and filtered down to educational curricula throughout the globe to inspire future generations of architects in solving the international housing dilemma facing millions throughout the world.
The Government of Peru formulated an experimental project in housing which had an objective of developing new concepts of forming experimental neighbourhoods and techniques utilizing Peruvian and foreign experience. In 1965 its Architect president Fernando Belaunde Terry began consultations to explore the ways of controlling the flow of people seeking urban living and spread of self-build informal barriadas in urban Peru. The proposals were submitted to UNDP in 1966 and approved in1967. The work started in 1968 with the intentions of carrying out three pilot schemes over three years.
In PREVI, 13 internationally renowned architects were commissioned to develop prototypes of urban housing that would internalise programmes for any future transformation. Thus each unit contained the terms of its own growth, recognition of the value of the dynamic of growth adopted in the informal slums. In contrast to a growth model based on large, out of scale gestures – from megastructures to gigantic superblocks – the PREVI experiment fielded new dynamics based on a model of low-rise, high- density housing.
When in 1968 a military coup led to the overthrow of the president-architect who had promoted the PREVI project, the involvement of UN prevented the project’s cancellation.
The jury met in 1969 and having chosen 3 winning projects from 13 International architects ( Kikutake-Kurokawa-Maki 4; Atelier 5 and Herbert Ohl), resolved to initiate the construction of all but two of the proposals in 1974, the first phase of 500 units was finally built and left to its fate of growth and progressive oblivion.
The 13 invited International architects were; Toivo Korhonan 6; Charles Correa 1; Christopher Alexander 8; Iniguez de Ozono & Vazquez de Castro 10; Georges Candilis; Alexis Josic; Shandrach Woods 13; James Stirling 7 ; Esquerra & Samper 2; Aldo van Eyck 9; Kikutake, Kurokawa & Maki 4; Svenssons 3; Hanson & Hatloy 11; Herbert Ohl 12; Atelier 5 5. (Jose Antonio Coderch from Spain was one of the Jury members)
The numbers after the name refer to general layout marked with numbers. The brown areas on the layout indicate subsequent additions extending the original built forms.
Summary of the brief.
Mandatory requirements were that each dwelling plot was to be between 80-150 m2, of which dwelling was to occupy between 60-120 including all floors.
The buildings initially were to be 1 or 2 storeys designed to support the third floor and were to be based on100 mm module. The ideas were to explore and develop techniques in architecture and construction within general area of low rise, fairly high density and compact housing in terraced, row and other formation. High rise developments were ruled out.
Detailed designs of dwellings were to be submitted with only a schematic general design for the community. All dwellings were to be flexibly planned for eventual accommodation of eight children of different ages, and one elderly couple, in addition to the owners.
Each dwelling had to provide living, dining, kitchen, bedroom(s), bathroom(s) and service patio. The relationships between rooms and external spaces were defined. Roof areas were required to be suitable for outdoor space.
The dwellings were to be conceived not as a fixed unit but as a structure with a cycle of evolution with appropriate construction technology to achieve this aim.
The initial basic unit was to be built by the main contractors and technical advice and assistance in building will be made to families completing their houses.
Car parking spaces were required to be on individual plots although at this time most of the families did not own cars.
James Stirling’s Proposals.
After the ‘first build’ by the contractors it was intended that the house should be completed at ground level and above by house owners in self-building styles.
The growth plan drawing shows in stages of self-building a 4P house becoming a completed ‘one storey house’ (8P+) considered the most typical method of growth. Thereafter expansion takes place on the floor above, either as a separate dwelling or, in the case of a large family, as additional bedrooms and living spaces, in which instance part of the ground level accommodation could be used for other purposes (i.e. shop or garage etc.).
When the house was at its smallest (4P), the kitchen, dining and living area were shown combined. As the house increased in size to approximately 6P the dining and living areas were separated from the kitchen by a wall and doors. This wall (knock-down or moveable) appeared in a new position when the house becomes 8P and 8P+, increasing the living space of the house as the family size grows.
Each house had two front entrance doors. One door led directly into the living area (social/traditional), the second (functional) into the house circulation area leading via the staircase and garden patio through to the service patio.
All rooms were planned with through ventilation i.e. separate openings on opposed walls to create cross draughts.
The ‘first-build’ by the contractor takes advantage of the large-scale initial production (cost and speed of erection) and was an assemblage of precast concrete walls and floor units. Party walls and outside perimeter walls were of sandwich construction and were precast units rising from ground beams incorporating windows and door openings and also parapets – these were crane erected.
Roof/floor units were lightweight r.c.beams with hollow pot infill which could be man erected allowing self-help methods of construction t as expansion was required.
Just as the individual rooms of the house were grouped around the garden patio, similarly the various sizes of house groupings were linked with differing scales of social and community space.
The hierarchy grew from the individual house to the immediate neighbours by making an initial group of four houses above common party walls (and common services) grouped around the service patios. These clusters of four house units were then grouped around a common entrance patio forming 20 or 21 houses. Thereafter this larger group becomes the basic cluster unit forming the neighbourhood (approximately 400 houses) and was related to access roads and car parking. There are four such neighbourhoods the allocated site area (1500 houses) and each is separated by a Public Park (planted, informal garden valleys) in which were to be sited the schools etc.
Flanking the approaches to the neighbourhood parks and enclosing the end of the housing areas were reserved for commercial buildings, shopping and community centres.
Stirling in 60s.
James Stirling was well informed as far as CIAM and its views on housing were concerned. He had already carried worked on proposals for a village scheme using vernacular and simple construction. At this time Europe was swamped with large concrete panel housing construction showing off their economy due to scale and rapid construction. Stirling had already seen this in action on his own Runcorn scheme, disliked by most users and demolished within few decades. Some of the wiser architects at this time were already aware the inflexibility these systems would left for future generations, the of a simple RC Frame skeleton for Park Hill is the sole reason for its re-use by Urban Splash at this very moment.
To be fair to him, the Brief originally intended to build huge chunks (up to 1500 dwellings) of neighbourhoods which were feasible to build using large precast panels but uncertainty of South American politics and the difficulty of calling a huge crane for modest additions to dwellings were unrealistic proposals which people like Van Eyck and Charles Correa avoided by using small scale self-build type constructional systems.
Having made the comments above I have to point out that crafty ‘Jim’ came up with cracker of a type plan. It provided simple bases for natural growth in many combinations, providing four columns forming a permeable enclosure to the courtyard, itself a traditional feature in Peru and excellent source of natural ventilation, greenery and daylight. The originally built walls in large precast concrete panels were ideal to build against or to support any kind of future construction above these by residents. I understand a four storey structure has now been incorporated in and around Jim’s house forming a school. His signature porthole windows and rounded door heads have become a pointer to visiting architects to spot Jim’s contributions now almost buried in this DIY zoo/archaeological site this area now resembles. James Stirling would have laughed to see his original panel used in the same manner as beautifully crafted huge stone walls built by Inca civilizations were used to support later light weight structure for centuries after the original construction. This is what I would suggest a good example of history repeating itself.
“James Stirling interpreted the future behaviour of the families with certain amount of accuracy: Stirling houses were the most requested and those that display PREVI’s finest qualities of occupancy” Garcia-Huidobro, Torriti & Tugas.
Summing up can be best by quoting from Justin McGuirk’s article in Domus, April 2011, ‘The metabolist utopia’.
“Some of the houses are extraordinary works of transformation whose occasionally surreal suburban grandeur belies their setting. Tinted windows and hacienda styling many not meet with architects’ approval but they speak volumes about owners’ pride and aspirations. Therein lies one of PREVI’s great successes. People didn’t move out as their financial situation improved. Residents stayed and turned a housing estate into what feels like a middle-class community.”
The details of original competition are from AD April 1970; abstracts, quotes, layouts and photographs from Domus of April 2011. Small aerial inset of Stirling’s housing is copyright of Peter Land. All with thanks.
Filed in 70s Housing, Architectural Competition, Architecture, Cortyard Housing, Developing Countries, Housing, Housing for growth, Indigenous Architecture, Informal Urban Housing, Modern Architecture, Private Housing, Regeneration, Self-Build Housing, Social Housing, Town Planning, Urban Renewal
Tags: Aldo van Eyck, Alexis Josic, Atelier 5, Barriadas, Charles Correa, Christopher Alexander, CIAM, Domus, Esquerra & Samper, Experimental Housing, Fernando Belaunde, Georges Candilis, Hanson & Hatloy, Herbert Ohl, High Density Housing, Housing, Informal Housing, James Stirling, Julian Salas, Justin Mcguirk, Kikutake- Kurokawa-Maki, Lima, Ozono & Castro, Patricia Lucas, Peru, Peter Land, Precast Concrete Blocks, Precast concrete Panels, PREVI, Shadrach Woods, Social Deprivation, Social Housing, Svenssons, Toivo Korhonan, UNDP, Urban Renewal
October 14, 2012
Louis Kahn’s work before Yale University Art Gallery (1950) is not very well known and publicised. However it is worth remembering that he was practicing since early 30s.
Louis Kahn served as a consultant to the Philadelphia Housing Authority and the United States Housing Authority in 1930s. He had a deep sense of social responsibility and was very interested in providing low cost housing.
He also worked with European émigrés Alfred Kastner and Oskar Stonorov.
In the early 1940s Louis Kahn associated with Stonorov and
George Howe, with whom Louis Kahn designed several wartime
housing projects such as Carver Court in Coatesville (composite; top left), Pennsylvania (1941-1944) and Pennypack Woods in Philadelphia (1941-1943). His last scheme of this period was the public housing in Philadelphia’s Mill Creek Housing project (1951-1963).
In late 40s Louis Kahn‘s career took-off when he established an independent practice and began to teach at Yale University and then at the University of Pennsylvania as Professor of Architecture (1957-1974). During those years, his ideas about architecture and the city took shape and early work of idealism that followed the international modernism was re-examined and reassessed by him and we all know the impact that produced on architectural history for the rest of 20th century.
I visited Canada and USA as a student in 1967 and attempted to see as much of his work as I could. On my visit to Mill Creek Housing I could not help noticing boarded up properties and a general feeling of deterioration. Few years ago when I learnt that the Estate was demolished, I was surprised and rather puzzled but put it down to possible social deprivation, poor maintenance and ‘sink status’ – a situation one comes across in Britain social housing frequently.
A quick search on internet started to unfold a different story which may be worth noting. Apparently the apartments were built on top of the Mill Creek flood plains. In 1961 several blocks of houses collapsed causing some deaths and as a result 111 houses were condemned and demolished. There were also three 17 storey tall residential blocks, also designed by Kahn in a subsequent phase see composite top right-bottom), which I am informed were a social disaster as far as accommodation was concerned were also demolished.
In the photo on top, Carver Court B&W photo attributed to Wiki Arquitectura. Site layout from http://www.design.upenn.edu. Mill Creek Housing photo from from’ In the Realm of Architecture’.
All other individual photos from my 1976 visit.
Filed in Demolished, Housing, Modern Architecture, Social Housing, Town Planning
Tags: "Alfred Kastner", "George Howe", "Louis Kahn", "Philadelphia", "USA", Carvar Court, Coatsville, flood-plain, Housing, Mill Creek Apartments, Mill Creek Housing, Modern Architecture, Modern Housing, Oscar Stonorov, Pennsylvnia, Pennypack Wood, Social Housing
October 9, 2012
Wayland Tunley intentions from the start were to have a wide variety of uses and housing on this site as he saw the dangers in housing 3000 people in a repetitive layout lacking amusement and joy.
A clearly understood street, cycleway and pedestrian network were to lead to a lively central area to be shared with the adjacent grid of Pennyland and to be linked to the city via the grid road. He intended to provide maximum variety of public areas surrounded by house types and designs which people were familiar with and liked. The layout consisted of varied building designs around streets, mews, landscape styles, offering surprises and vistas.
The trap of using unfamiliar building materials and contrived forms was also avoided by using red bricks, tiled roofs vernacular throughout the grid where the topography of this prominent site offered the variation sought by the designers to achieve a village plan within the grid with entrances marked with gate piers, timber oriels, lanterns, balconies, pergolas and its own ‘green’ and clock tower
A wide variety of mostly wide fronted one to three storey houses was employed often placing living rooms on first floor to take full advantage of the views. Most of the houses were originally meant for rent, some for sale. There was also specialist accommodation for Spastics Association, employment office, shops, a Pub, health centre, housing for elderly, schools. This variety building types was fully utilised to provide variation of scale and roof heights.
The streets and mews are named after old crafts, within context of a ‘village vernacular’ of a comprehensive newly designed picturesque village community lost within a modern large new city designed for cars.
The local centre lies within Neath Hill but casts its visual net to cover the adjacent grid of Pennyland and indeed announcing itself to the speeding motorists on the main grid road. Neath Hill and Pennyland are special grids as the local centre shared by the two adjacent areas is a departure from norm and addresses the main grid road to break the MK planning rule of hiding the centres in the heart of grids surrounded by housing and a lush belt of hedges and trees to keep the housing grids secret and private to the local population.
Wayland Tunley is the main ‘conductor and composer’ in this area. The housing varies from simple and plain to celebratory and elaborate, depending on the placement within a very rich mix of public spaces and pedestrian circulation. The hidden secret of these grids lies in the joy of walking on footpaths winding their way through matured landscape reminding you of intimate country lanes, village greens, with beautifully framed views of building landmarks. Grand Union Canal has also been included in giving an extra boost to this subtle experiencing of marriage between the social architecture and the best traditions of British informal landscaping by offering a mini ‘Venetian Corner’ with a British twist to the complete surprise of casual newcomers.
By the time Pennyland come to the drawing board, the energy conservation was becoming a significant issue. The first phase was built to higher standards if insulation and employed quite a few energy conservation experiments and studies.
Wayland Tunley left MKDC in early 1980s and won a competition to build canal-side housing (I assume as a builder/developer partnership) which used traditional canal side architecture and language of Netherfield very effectively. Housing built further away from Neatherfield was carried out by other architects and developers.
Filed in 70s Housing, Architectural Competition, Buckinghamshire, Housing, Milton Keynes, Modern Architecture, New Town, Private Housing, Social Housing, Town Planning, Vernacular Architecture
Tags: Canal-side Housing, Derek Walker, Housing, Housing in Britain, Landscape, Milton Keynes, MKDC, Modern Architecture, Netherfield, Nigel Lane, pedestrian network, Private Housing, Social Housing, Traditional Construction, Wayland Tunley
October 8, 2012
The design team dealing with northern Milton Keynes was led by Nigel Lane and Wayland Tunley. They dealt with sensitive infill schemes in Stony Stratford (Cofferidge Close) and did infill projects in tightly built railway town of Wolverton including the Agora. (see Blog: Agora, Wolverton MK: February 19, 2010)
Galley Hill was one of the first large housing schemes completed in 1971-72. At this point the problems of overheated building industry became apparent. The required speed of building new houses was not available and to meet the requirements, simpler layouts were needed along with the introduction of industrialised methods of construction whenever possible.
The small groups of terraces forming the public spaces were treated in fairly homogeneous manner as far as use of colours and finishes of horizontal boarding and design of doors and windows was concerned.
However, as happened in other places, the subsequent private ownership of a large number of houses ensured an introduction of patch work of varying colours and materials to display individuality of their new owners, weakening the architectural coherence originally envisaged.
The pitched roofs helped in many ways – disasters of leaking flat roofs of southern flank housing schemes were not experienced and roof scape also helped to unify the appearance.
The densities were low and compared to modern housing developments these Parker Morris standard houses and large open spaces look almost lavish.
Buckinghamshire County Council was responsible for designing and building schools in Milton Keynes and one of their gifted architects, Brian Andrews, worked closely with MKDC planners to build a traditionally built school closely integrated with the roads and footpaths. There was some bold ‘arts and crafts’ inspired brick detailing and a friendly open layout. Unfortunately the subsequent vandalism has meant that fences and gates have denied easy access.
Greenleys housing is more formal, using car free courtyards on either side of car parking areas or courtyards large enough to bring cars into attached garages and car parking spaces. These schemes were worked out and built fairly quickly. The warm coloured bricks and pitch roofs were also a far sighted decision for this period. Landscaping, as usual is of high standards unifying the whole scheme.
Buckinghamshire County Council built another traditional looking school here. Ivor Smith built the Local Centre with Community and Sports facilities at low level and housing above.
Both are shown in the photograph below.
Filed in 70s Housing, Buckinghamshire, Education, Housing, Milton Keynes, Modern Architecture, New Town, Private Housing, Schools, Social Housing, Town Planning
Tags: Derek Walker, Housing, Milton Keynes, MK North, MKDC, Modern Architecture, Nigel Lane, Schools, Social Housing, Traditional Construction, Wayland Tunley
In early 70s, while the large scale housing grids were being developed on southern flank of Milton Keynes near Bletchley (Coffee Hall, Netherfield, Eaglestone, Netherfield have already been covered in my earlier Blogs) northern flank started slightly more cautiously and more traditionally.
Milton Keynes, was badly suffering from shortage of skilled labour and contractors due to its huge building programme and distances from existing conurbations. There were attempts to design housing by using simplified and if possible use factory built or repetitive elements of construction where possible.
The first housing scheme near Stony Stratford, Galley Hill, was nearing completion and DOE’s granted permission for the same contractor to continue working on Fullers Slade provided the work continued from first site to the second. This imposed a much reduced design period (almost two months) and resulted in a simpler layout and quick decision making. Long delivery periods for bricks made it necessary to use diagonal cedar boarding as external cladding and a concrete system using a box system of shutters was used on a standardised 3.60m module for all dwellings.
In retrospect you can notice the direct or indirect influence of Wayland Tunley working with Derek Walker. Pithed roofs and familiar building materials were used whenever possible. This was in contrast wit Grunt Group’s bold use of flat roofs and metal windows and cladding at Netherfield (Ralph Erskin at Eaglestone performed a similar function) which ran into all kind of technical difficulties and windows and roofs had to be changed to make the dwellings habitable.
The decision was taken to use simple terraces with houses of different sizes, generally following the contours of the site. An ancient existing mature hedgerow offered a natural anchor to the generous communal spaces around terraces. The stepped section offers maximum living accommodation on the ground level and daylight within the units also allowing sun to reach the private garden positioned on north-east side of the terraces.
After about 40 years use.
As usual the landscaping is wonderful. Some of the large trees perished during Dutch Elm disease but others were planted. Unlike unfortunate disunity/disfigurement/multi-colour additions and ad hoc alterations to individual houses within the terraces of Netherfield, it is a relief to notice that there is a satisfying unity of colours textures and window designs despite quite a few major alterations to exterior design at Fuller Slade.
I read quite a few reports about fire incidents in local newspapers of Milton Keynes (unfortunately social housing schemes are often involved), I can only assume that the possibility of spread of fires with timber boarding and lack of vertical barriers may have added to this problem and perhaps explain the resulting changes.
The clay tile hanging has replaced the timber boarding between the window bands, simple (and controlled coloured) fins have appeared between dwellings. There is a relaxed and easy going use of car ports, stores and sheds which are often modified but are not offensive by any means. Children and families enjoy the public spaces in a safe and relaxed environment.
I must find out the reasons for this positive use after seeing the terrible failures in housing in other areas. This may be due to different ‘owner occupation’ ratios or the imposed rules on the new occupiers to conform with some acceptable communal responses to retain some visual unity. It is also possible that there is a large proportion of dwellings under a housing association control which carries out its own maintenance. There is no doubt that the north and south divide has some lessons to offer in Milton Keynes.
Filed in 70s Housing, Architecture, Buckinghamshire, Housing, Milton Keynes, Modern Architecture, New Town, Social Housing, Town Planning
Tags: Ceder Boarding, Derek Walker, Fuller Slade, Galley Hill, Housing, Housing in Britain, Ken Gibbon, Milton Keynes, MKDC, Modern Architecture, Social Housing, Stony Stratford, Wayland Tunley
December 30, 2010
Fishermead was developed at a higher density than that of housing in other areas of Milton Keynes. In this scheme the residential density range is 219-224 people per hectare. The result provides an interesting comparison with the draft government circular published in 1966 which suggested that the suburban densities could be raised to 120 persons per hectare where appropriate.
The Central Area consisting of nine grids including Fishermead was to house approximately 30,000 people, together with related local commercial, social and educational facilities. At the time of inception 75 % of dwellings were designed for renting and 25% for sale (this proportion is possibly reversed by now). Various reserved sites were retained for future growth and possibility of change. Because of the flexibility in the structure plan, it was hoped that the continuity, growth and change could be accommodated consistently rather than fortuitously.
The predominant housing form is three-storey perimeter development around the edges of 180 x 130 m grid enclosing semi-private spaces which are directly accessible from the gardens of the surrounding houses. These spaces provide protected, safe areas for toddlers’ play, sitting areas and landscaping. The back gardens opening into these spaces were originally designed with little visual protection resulting in under use due to lack of privacy but at first opportunity timber and brick walls started appearing almost excluding the visual connection between home and the landscape space in the middle. Architects realized the need for privacy in these higher densities and the fencing for 2nd phase offered more privacy to the tenants.
Family houses are built in terraces along the streets and the smaller dwellings are accommodated in corner blocks. Space is reserved at each corner to provide for possible future community use: shops, office, residents’ club room etc.
If you have seen my previous Blogs on early grids of Milton Keynes, you would have noticed there are lots of common factors at work to make this look like a ‘deprived’ estate.
At one time the property prices were rock bottom and people were not prepared to live here unless there was no other available option. The economical factors have made this estate a ‘honey-pot’ for recent Somalian migrant population in Milton Keynes. The original architectural intentions to obtain flexibility on corner spaces to cater for ever-changing future needs seems to be working. There are thriving grocery shops and fast food stalls in corner locations serving the specific needs of the currently occupying community. This gives a certain ‘cohesive’ feel to the place and in some ways comes quite close to Jane Jacobs’ ideas of communal living.
Once again the original dream of housing a burgeoning middle class community with ‘Habitat’ furnishings and ‘comfortable’ living had a head on crash with the arrival of ever-changing disadvantaged communities struggling to survive. If you are prepared to ignore the architects compulsion to follow niceties about correct appearances, colour matching, sympathetic alterations and litter in key positions, you would have to concede that the discipline and the rigour of the original design has done its job differently, but adequately to offer a safe haven to a distant community (among others) whose arrival could not have been further away from the minds of architects of this remarkable office at the time of designing this project.
PVC windows are the biggest destroyers of the architectural fabric, closely followed by flimsy asbestos panels as these buckle, fade or get damaged. The age old wish to put personal stamp of ‘ownership’ results in a Netherfield type ‘rainbow’ effect which goes against the intention of the original design. The overhanging eaves of added pitched roofs tend to softens the personal touches and strengthen continuity.
The poor maintenance of infrastructure and building fabric remains woefully inadequate but the landscape continues to give this area a real environmental boost basically because it mostly looks after itself. What a shame that before selling the properties some long term strategy could not be created in an attempt to encourage and help the new owners to understand their role in maintaining their houses to enhance the original intentions and consistency required for a healthy and safe community living in a nice place.
The B&W photos, plans and some of the information is attributable to an article by Michael Foster in AJ of 11th May 1977. Old photographs are taken by Martin Charles.
Filed in Architecture, Buckinghamshire, Housing, Housing in 60s, Milton Keynes, Modern Architecture, New Town, Private Housing, Social Housing, Town Planning
Tags: 70s Housing, Derek Walker, High Density Housing, Housing, Housing in Britain, Landscape, Milton Keynes, MKDC, Modern Architecture, Private Housing, Shops, Social Deprivation, Social Housing, Trevor Denton