for what it’s worth

stories and stimulus from a consumer insight consultant

TERENCE CONRAN BUILDS UK ECO-HAMLET

According to the Sunday Times, planners at Broadland district council in Norfolk have just approved a 22-home “green hamlet” designed by Conran & Partners, Terence Conran’s architecture and design studio, to be built in natural clearings in preserved woodland a few miles from Norwich. With these homes – 17 detached, plus a terrace of five affordable houses – Conran, the creator of Habitat and a major design force in many UK households, is putting his stamp of approval on affordable housing and sustainable living:

The Drayton scheme is the pilot for a larger eco-community of 4,000 homes, and Conran & Partners is part of a consortium of players in the housebuilding industry hoping to work with one of the developers chosen to build one of the 10 zero-carbon eco-towns planned in Britain.

“I passionately believe that as designers – whether we are working on buildings, products or even modes of transport – we have a great deal of responsibility to find eco-friendly solutions to the serious and real problems that threaten future generations. Eco-towns are going to be very much part of the future, and it is vital they are affordable and comfortable and that they function as places to live in their own right.”

The Drayton hamlet is a mix of three, four- and five-bedroom homes. No trees will be felled to make way for the properties, which will have pitched clay-tile roofs and be finished in render and timber cladding, with triple glazing and an array of eco-features. The hot-water system will be solar-powered, and rainwater, harvested and stored underground, will be used to flush lavatories and water gardens. The homes will be as airtight as possible and highly insulated: wood-burning stoves and small gas-fired boilers will provide top-up heating.

The big question is: will his eco-homes sell? They’re not cheap. The price of the smallest three-bed detached is expected to start at £300,000; a five-bedder will cost £500,000, and prices for the affordable homes are yet to be finalised. Given that five-bed new-builds in nearby estates are priced at £350,000 and the average house price in Drayton is £250,000, others aren’t so sure. “Eco-homes come at a premium, and I do not think there are enough people willing to pay those prices yet,” says Dave Richardson, head of group marketing for Howards, a local estate agency. He nevertheless predicts the affordable properties will be snapped up: “If people can have an eco-home and qualify for an affordable property, I’m sure they will.”

Times: The eco-hamlet that Sir Terence Conran built

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Filed under: future cities, visions of the future, ,

Ecopods for the Cross River Tram in London

With the 100-year-old London Underground system struggling to cope with the ever-increasing number of daily commuters and still not able to deal with the unpredictable British weather, Transport For London have been looking to introduce a new tram system that would connect North and South London and offer ‘a safe, green and reliable form of transport’. Planning to run between Euston and Waterloo, with branches to Camden Town and King’s Cross in the north and Peckham and Brixton in the south, the Cross River Tram will help connect multiple areas in 4 of London’s boroughs quickly and easily to central locations, in some cases halving journey time (though that’s probably just due to being programmed to run on time).

tram

The system is not expected to reach construction phase until after the 2012 Olympics, with the aim of starting service by 2016, however local councils are already working on drumming up public support for the project. As a major part of this, TFL and UK initiative ConnectingSouthwark.com hired design agency Wire to develop an eco-friendly identity and campaign, the main focus of which is the ‘Ecopod’ that has appeared opposite the Elephant and Castle shopping centre. The prototype tram station is environmentally friendly (made from a recycled shipping container and powered by solar panels and wind turbines) and offers news and information about the tram and the regeneration programme to all passers-by, both inside the pod itself and through a video presentation projected onto the outside wall. An impressive campaign for a government initiative- plus you gotta love the t-shirts!

tram t

via Inhabitat

Filed under: future cities, stuff on the streets, , ,

Richard Rogers Designs Prefab

Picture_1_15Richard Rogers has partnered with Wimpey homes to produce his first house design for 37 years- a £60,000 house for the new Wimpey
estate on the edge of Milton Keynes. The design is a winning entry for the government’s Design for Manufacture competition– which has granted the construction at Oxley Park. The site will contain 145 homes, 56 to be sold at £60,000 (as part of the government’s affordable housing initiative), the rest estimated at £230,000.

Putting himself in direct competition with the Ikea prefabs, Rogers’s three-bedroom ‘flexi-house’ will enable occupants to choose different wall finishes, change the interior layout as their family grows, and add prefabricated rooms. The architect himself decribes it as “a winning scheme which will deliver flexibility, modern methods of construction and a range of materials, coupled with an ambitious environmental strategy.”

The houses go on sale next year

via The Sunday Times

Filed under: collaborative working, future cities,

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