Triangle | Glenn Howells | Swindon


From the authors:

  • 42 Townhouses, 6 Apartments (16 two-bed houses, 13 three-bed houses, 7 four-bed houses, 4 one-bed apartments, and 2 two-bed apartments)
  • from one bedroom to four bedrooms properties
  • gross internal floor area: Two-bedroom house: 46 m2, Four-bedroom house: 115 m2
  • project developed for Haboakus – a joint venture between Kevin McCloud’s HAB company and the Green Square housing group
  • timber-frame structures and Hempcrete external walls finished in traditional lime render to achieve compliance with Code 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes and with Lifetimes Homes standards as well as a Building for Life Gold Standard
  • gabion walls enclose bin stores
  • porch bicycle storage

More about the project:

  • attempted to make well-built eco-houses affordable
  • implemented novel design features to ‘mass’ housing (ventilation chimneys)
  • used new materials (hempcrete)
  • the houses are very small with an open plan, and built large communal space
  • the hempcrete was grown locally and used for the external walls
  • rooms were given higher ceilings to enable more light to flood small rooms and make then feel bigger
  • individual gardens were small but a large communal garden was put into community trust ownership and people encouraged to grow food collectively
  • overall, 50% of land is for sharing
  • the aim of this development was to build low-impact, low-carbon, and high-value houses

From Architects Journal:

  • galvanised steel porticoes shelter two vertical bike racks next to every front door
  • gabion wall bin (bin store with recycling provision) surrounds (the crevices enhance biodiversity and encourage climbing plants) may not be to everyone’s liking, but they screen cars parked in the front gardens and invite personalisation of one’s front door
  • robust rainwater pipes delineate the party walls
  • stock clay tiles in three different finishes randomly add texture to what would have otherwise been a monolithic roof
  • granite kerbs frame permeable paving in front gardens
  • and one of four paint colours – inspired by the palette of neighbouring houses – differentiates one house from the next
  • espaliered fruit trees, some grown to maturity on McCloud’s own property, separate front gardens
  • a bed below each kitchen window has been left for residents to plant themselves, although there is a lack of planting space adjacent to the imposing gabion bin stores
  • the central landscaped area, like the whole site, is planned to absorb rainwater run-off at source
  • a casual array of logs straddling a swale doubles as a children’s playground
  • the public realm promotes social cohesion and healthier living
  • the project takes its namefrom a triangular open space at the heart of the site which is overlooked by the kitchen windows of surrounding homes
  • open spaces at each ‘corner’ of the triangle as collective outdoor space: two community gardens and a car park
  • the central space is supplemented by two kitchen gardens, one with poly-tunnels irrigated by water harvested from roofs
  • environmental infrastructure delivers a series of environmental services including: sustainable drainage, water harvesting, biodiversity, food production, social interaction, air cleaning and microclimate control
  • an Edible Landscape Manual was given to every resident in a presentation pack with packets of seeds, and this is a guide to where they can find the edible infrastructure in the design, how they can grow their own food and recipes to enjoy the fruits of their labours. Tim Smit: “The booklet gave a real sense of bringing a community together and making them more self-sufficient and sustainable. A powerful way of engaging people with their landscape”
  • how to make residents care about and look after this space: Hab Oakus has devised a community trust which gives every resident an ownership stake in the public realm (the landscaped space at the Triangle adds nearly half a million pounds to the value of the project)
  • the houses: a 2.6-metre ground-floor ceiling height, above- standard door heads and larger than usual windows all contribute to a sense of spaciousness within the tight floor plans
  • natural materials and neutral finishes are used throughout, including 350mm-thick hemcrete walls, wool carpets and cork floors
  • to minimise overheating: at the back of the houses, a full-height, lockable louvred panel enables natural ventilation even when no one is home
  • a motorised loft hatch opens into a ventilation cowl disguised as a chimney
  • the houses achieve Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4, and could meet Level 5 with the introduction of
    photovoltaic panels
  • community-wide intranet, a small touch-screen at eye level which serves as a virtual notice-board near
    the kitchen. Here, you can check exactly when the local bus will be arriving, or ask a neighbour for Calpol at midnight
  • a reduction in average parking provision from 2 to 1.5 per unit, because the project has a car club, good cycle storage anda bus stop at the entrance



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