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This proposal for the family zone focuses on making meaningful spaces for an active and visible community.
We have not attempted to reinvent the wheel with new housing typologies, but to refine and adjust the familiar models that humans are comfortable with. The key aspect of this design is to provide spaces that encourage a sense of community.

spaces that people recognise
the avenue
the lane
the square
a playground
a lookout over the river
street corners to wait at

units: The parallel arrangement allows for maximum use of passive and active solar gain in the units. As the homes face south, they enjoy direct sunlight in the living areas throughout the year. In some of the apartments the bedrooms also get sun all day. Views over the river are an added benefit of this orientation.

MOVEMENT ‘a river runs through it’
The layout for the landscape and paths through it are consciously overlaid and blurred. Like a Japanese garden, the idea is to lay out the landscape as miniature version of nature. The textures and surfaces of this landscape could have the required functional performance, but also be integral to the cohesive whole.

Our view is that the site could be serviced by a lower standard of car provision, as it is so well connected to public transport at both local and national scales. Also, most facilities are also within walking distance. The sustainable aspects of the proposal are fundamental, from planning to construction, and energy usage. It is only natural that private car usage should not be seen as a priority. Car clubs would be ideal at this scale of community, and the site’s location is most suitable for cyclists. The on site parking provision is about 90% per unit.

Access through the site by car is via the meandering serpentine avenue, which feeds into short lanes. The form is deliberate -to slow cars down and blurs the distinction between vehicle and pedestrian surfaces. The lanes are to be gravel, again to slow the movement of cars. Being highly permeable, this is also a more sustainable solution and surface drainage can be simplified.
Gravel is used as it a familiar surface for both walking and driving over. It is also noisy, so it would make for a safer environment.

The variety of housing types allows and encourages a diverse mix of people. This could accommodate all generations of a family, from the first flat to a place to retire. As the site is so near the university it is likely that some students would also live here. Students sharing can use the 3 bedroom apartments sited along the edges.
Despite being called the family zone it could be socially limiting if only one social group is concentrated here.
For a community to flourish, the mix provided is deliberately diverse, and varies from 5 bedroom family terraced houses with gardens to compact 1-bed flats.

In general the space standards are on average parker morris or typical RSL requirements. Some are slightly smaller and some slightly larger.
Typically, family terrace housing ranges from 3–5 bedrooms, with gardens. The apartments vary from 1-3 bedrooms.
Some units can be adapted easily for full wheelchair access. All are ambulant disabled standard.
We have deliberately resisted providing detached houses, as they are a less energy efficient configuration. The terrace or apartment block is naturally efficient as the units ‘huddle together’.
The courtyard type can create its own pleasant microclimate.

Our approach to construction is twofold:
The materials and method of construction should be as sustainable as possible, and the energy required by the dwelling should be as close to passive as possible.
Materials and Construction: as far as possible the use of materials such as concrete are minimised. The embodied energy of some materials can mean that the energy and carbon used can be excessive, even before the building commences. Timber is used, as it stores carbon and the building process starts in carbon credit rather than deficit.
At this stage we propose either engineered (solid) timber, or a high performance ‘balloon frame’ timber system. Both have been fully tested and give excellent performance.
All the houses have green roofs. As mentioned earlier, the landscaping is to have a positive impact to the environment, including the use of gravel for the minor roads.

As all units face south, the possible passive solar gain is maximised. We also propose reintroducing window shutters. These would incorporate multi-foil thin insulation, so that the occupants could close the shutters at night to minimise heat loss. These simple low-tech devices could also be used to keep the sun out in summer. The windows would have shade provided by overhanging balconies, to minimise sun penetration in summer.
Energy: As mentioned in the Masterplan design guide, it is proposed to use the river to heat and cool the houses. However, it is likely that this may need to be assisted. In addition to the excellent passive gains, all units would have solar water heating and solar photovoltaic panels on the roof. This is likely to allow the buildings to achieve passive house standards.

Landscape and gardening are fundamental in this design.
A diversity of gardens is included:
The private garden, allotments, shared gardens, rooftop gardens, playgrounds and parkland. Our approach is that the central avenue is seen like a river, meandering through the site to the actual river, with its banks widening and narrowing. The gravel lanes are the streams off it.
All of the green spaces are to be actively cultivated. This would enhance and encourage a feeling of communality.

Make me a Home: Northshore, Stockton on Tees

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