Building for Life winners show design is not just a matter of taste
18 September 2007
Michael Murray-Fennell, 020 7070 6772,
The nine Building for Life 2007 winners, announced today (Wednesday, 19 September), prove that good design is not a matter of taste - it can be found across all architectural styles and housing tenures.
This year's Building for Life winners include suburban homes which break the mould for Reading, affordable homes in deprived areas in the West Midlands and Yorkshire, sustainable homes built on an old Somerset oil depot, traditional homes in Cornwall, and urban regeneration schemes in London. They all share a commitment to high design standards, good place making and sustainable development.
Building for Life chair, Wayne Hemingway said:
'The quality of this year's Building for Life winners shows that some developers and planning authorities can get together and deliver great places and homes that can lift the spirit. But there are still far too many examples of poor new homes and new housing developments that won't mature into great places. Building for Life will continue to chivvy along those that don't live up to what the public deserves and reward those that do.'
The Building for Life standard is the government-endorsed benchmark for well-designed housing and neighbourhoods. It is led by CABE, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, and the Home Builders Federation, and supported by English Partnerships, the Housing Corporation, and Design for Homes.
Since Building for Life launched in 2002, over 50 housing schemes have been awarded the standard. This year, Empire Square in London and The Manor in Reading take the Berkeley Group ahead of the game with seven Building for Life awards over six years. Barratt Homes gained its first award with The Visage development in London's Swiss Cottage.
There were three Building for Life gold standard winners and six silver standard winners. The silver standard developments fulfilled 70 per cent of the criteria, while the gold standards met 80 per cent. These 20 criteria objectively measure the quality of a scheme's design and construction; its roads, parking and pedestrianisation; its environment and community; and its character.
If the design quality of this year's winners is to become widespread, Building for Life must be embedded in the planning system as a benchmark for design quality.
Building for Life gold standards
The Russells, Broadway, Worcestershire
Chase Homes, Evesham and Pershore Housing Association, and Lapworth Architects
Built on the site of a former Arts and Crafts furniture factory, The Russells is a development respectful of its Cotswolds setting, with great character and a superb new public square. The judges described it as 'a great piece of urbanism... real town building,' and praised its 'flexible meeting space.' Wayne Hemingway, Building for Life chair said: 'The people who've made this development happen are heroes. Good schemes need leadership and someone who cares - this has it in spades.'
Great Bow Yard, Langport, Somerset
Ecos Homes and Stride Treglown
An exemplary sustainable development of 12 homes built on the site of an old oil depot. Great Bow Yard demonstrates to the mainstream private sector that it is possible to build sustainable homes and still make a profit. 'A healthy place with healthy material,' was the judges' summary, continuing, 'you can imagine it'll be a happy place to live.'
Empire Square, Southwark, London
Berkeley Homes and Rolfe Judd Architects
A new London landmark thanks to its barometer beacon, Empire Square is a triangular mixed-use block comprising three buildings enclosing a dramatically sculpted pavilion. It replaces derelict warehouses, and the affordable and rental housing is carefully integrated with private dwellings. 'The specification is absolutely fantastic, there isn't a material they've used that won't look as good in 25 years.'
Building for Life silver standards
Waterstone Park, Greenhithe, Kent
Countryside Properties, Land Securities, and Gardner Stewart Architects
A housing scheme of simple contemporary elegance, care has been shown to take advantage of the Thames views from the hilltop site. The clear layout of the scheme is enhanced by higher buildings next to large open spaces and the corners of blocks. 'Very brave and bold, a really interesting out-of-town development.'
Visage and Swiss Cottage Cultural Centre, Swiss Cottage, London.
Barratt, Dawnay Day. S&P Architects, and Terry Farrell & Partners
This mixed use redevelopment of obsolete leisure facilities has cleverly provided, via a public private partnership, a surprising number of high quality facilities for the local community. 'A regeneration success on a fantastic site... a brilliant \"street in the sky\" has been created by placing new units on top of the recreation centre.'
The Village, St Austell, Cornwall
Westco Properties, Restormel Borough Council and Midas Homes
An integral part of the St Austell regeneration programme, the range of house types and tenures are built to a high standard of craftsmanship and reflect the local existing houses. 'It looks like it's grown organically. The variation in styles, the road lay-out, and the streets all fit together very well.'
The Manor, Lower Earley, Reading
St James Homes and John Thompson & Partners
A lovely landscaped park creates a successful buffer zone between The Manor and the M4 traffic. A clear layout, a distinctive character and good quality specification combine to provide a well-designed suburban scheme. 'The Manor breaks the mould for Reading, very bold, and a local quality benchmark.'
Allerton Bywater (Area 3B), West Yorkshire
English Partnerships, Fleming Fusion, and PRP Architects
Bywater Court is an important addition to the former mining area Allerton Bywater, one of English Partnerships' seven Millennium Communities. This contemporary scheme includes atelier units which mixes commercial use amongst the residential activity. 'This scheme will reinvigorate the area, creating employment, entrepreneurship and a community.'
Upton (Phase 1, Site A), Northampton
English Partnerships, Paul Newman Homes and EDAW
A major town centre extension, the first phase of Upton consists of high quality material, streets and landscaping. 'Beautifully done, with great detailing. Landscape architects seem to have been deeply involved, it's like going to a garden centre!'
Notes to editor
- For further information, please contact Michael Murray-Fennell, Senior Press Officer at CABE, on 020 7070 6772 or at email@example.com
- Images of the 2007 Building for Life winners are available at http://images.cabe.org.uk/BMS?link=04DD5CFF
- The Building for Life standard is awarded to housebuilders and housing associations who demonstrate a commitment to high design standards, good place making and sustainable development. Building for Life is an initiative led by CABE and the Home Builders Federation. It is supported by the Civic Trust, Design for Homes, English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation.