North Prospect regeneration
The Architecture Centre Devon and Cornwall was invited by Plymouth Community Homes to provide an introduction to Building for Life for a residents’ group involved in the major redevelopment programme at North Prospect in Plymouth. This is a large scale, phased development affecting up to 1500 homes and includes a community hub in a suburb of the city. The aim was to give residents an opportunity to receive some training in housing design using Building for Life and apply and share this learning through other engagement activities including site visits.
Why Building for Life?
The client team, having had training in Building for Life themselves, were keen to use it to promote a dialogue about quality of place. During the process, the client confirmed that the developer’s technical brief requirement would be to achieve a minimum score of 16 under Building for Life.
The clarity and brevity of the Building for Life structure mean that it has advantages for use in improving design literacy and establishing a common language between architects, designers, planners, developers, community workers, agencies and residents. Nevertheless, it was anticipated that, for practical use with community groups, there may be some areas which could be enhanced – for example, supporting activities, and addressing issues around some of the language used. Exploring these at North Prospect would not necessarily provide definitive answers, but offer some analysis and recommendations for the future adaptation of Building for Life.
The training and subsequent exercises were initially not specific to North Prospect. Activities such as site visits were used to enable more detailed discussion on design quality issues. These included a visit to a large-scale development in Horfield, Bristol, which is featured in CABE’s A sense of place: what residents think of their new homes.
The residents’ design aspirations for the future of their community would later be presented as a project document to tendering developers.