White Arkitekter’s interesting proposal, called ‘Hedge House’, is a new housing typology which uses post-war housing estates to create affordable housing. The London Affordable Housing Challenge, an open international competition, sought a concept for affordable housing to increase London’s housing stock. White’s proposal seeks to use the urban fabric, public parks and spaces between the post-war housing estates by addressing what does not currently work, healing the estates without affecting existing affordable homes.
I’ve always thought that many of these post-war estates actually prided themselves on the amount of open space around them –– it certainly can be a redeeming feature, if designed correctly. So it’d be a shame to take away one of the few good things going for them – play areas, parks etc – just to build more housing. But not all the estates have good planning around them – and some, especially later ones, have dead space, or space that is badly lit and unfriendly.
The idea for Hedge House seems promising though: it has a low site cost, no demolition or loss of existing affordable homes and a small, efficient footprint with lightweight construction that allows for prefabrication with a simple repetition of elements.
The concept creates better spaces on both of its sides: a calm park protected from street noise on one side and a lively city street with people and front doors on the other. With its green facades the building becomes part of the park, creating a natural border.
Designed with prefabrication in mind, the modular system can be adapted to fulfil the needs of any number of sites, scale and access requirements.
White Arkitekter has won the BB-Green Award in the London Affordable Housing Challenge for the proposal –– it’d be interesting to see it if and when it’s implemented.