Horton Housing Competition

  • Client:

    Great Places Lakes and Dales Partnership (GPLD)

  • Location: Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Lake District
  • Status: RIBA Competition (Runner Up)
  • Contract value: Undisclosed
  • Photography:

    Veronika Desova

Approach to Brief

Our aspirations for the project are to design flexible affordable housing types with focus on architectural quality. In response to the brief our proposals seek to bring the sense of generosity and luxury usually found in bespoke private houses to an affordable build product desirable to young people.

Inspired by ideas derived by the English Arts & Craft movement we firstly considered the idea of comfort. By the late nineteenth century notions of comfort had achieved widespread currency within English culture initially through the work of the first generation of arts & craft designers such as William Morris, Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott and Charles Voysey.

Our ideas investigate the house typology as a simple 2 storey house with bedrooms situated on the ground floor with a flexible inter-changeable open volume living space to the upper floor taking strong advantage of the surrounding picturesque and romantic scenery beyond.

Our proposals consider the value and flexibility of the unit type and exploits opportunities in the house volume and its associated house plot – Thus allowing our typology to be considered as a 1 bed, or 2 bed, or 3 bed home depending on the occupants needs and requirements – A flexibility home typology – ‘A lifetime home’.

The essence of our house typology is designed to facilitate and allow for simple adaption by the occupants where for single homeowners, young couples, home workers, newly growing families or for the extended family. The intention is that the unit is constructed from energy efficient and locally sourced materials with the ambition to provide a very affordable entry level unit, generously proportioned and offering a volume with great opportunity to self-custom over time.

Approach to Context

Traditionally the starting and finishing point for the Three Peak Walks, Horton in Ribblesdale is a charming small village and an iconic tourist attraction for all ages groups. Established as a parish town in the early 12th century the picturesque landscape is generally made by surface of moor covered hill and mountain rock of carboniferous limestone strata.

The location is distinctively unique, and we believe in terms of language and scale the buildings should be developed with an appropriate character forming a sensitive connection and continuity to context. The analysis of the site has identified a number of important themes and concepts which together form a rural character and in turn should influence the development site and surrounding area.

Our conceptual thinking in establishing territories takes clue from the Yorkshire Dales landscape and the stone walls allotting farm land – Walls define hierarchies of spaces. Our approach to the defined competition site is to consider the inherent idea of the collective ‘community’ and the ‘shared’ whilst also retaining the idea of private individual plots. The proposal takes on the wider idea of the cluster diagram around a common landscaped courtyard. Each individual house has its own defined plot, garden and utility structure but together the houses are organised in relationship to each other by aligning entrance threshold ‘porch’ offering a sense of community control and security. The plan offers a zonal pattern separating path and road, by foot and by car, while both cumulating at a shared space ‘the courtyard’.

Approach to House Types & Customisation

The basis of the plan is configured on an overall plot dimension of 5M by 11m (4.2m internal width) enabling an efficient plan adhering to required national space technical standards. The unit is punctuated with spaces animating and bringing joy to the plan. Organised around a linear stair and central services core. These rooms can be organised and altered to respond to varying circumstances making the plan flexible to typology mix. The plan is also adaptable to changing needs in a number of ways; a bedroom can be added or removed, the volume can be manipulated, space and be subdivided which makes the plan adaptable.

Our approach principle takes a 2 storey rectilinear plan volume, considers how spaces flow and applies a layer of key spaces to the flexible spaces;

A Vestibule – The in-between threshold that provides a space at the front door for storage and a space to accommodate meters, services and utilities.

A Utility Structure – An adaptable space practical for storage, home office, garage or outdoor bedroom aiding flexibility of use.

A Sun Room – a versatile high level internal space, a space for relaxing and connecting to nature and the view.

The interiors are expressed as raw but well-made allowing for the principle construction elements to form the ‘look and feel’ of each house. The entry level floors are polished concrete to the ground floor and timber boarding to the upper volumes. Walls area predominately plastered and ceilings, windows and doors take form of their construction pine treated timber.

Approach to Site

Following our visit to the site our design levels have been further interrogated. A challenging site, particularly to the southern edge, however offers great opportunities in terms of visual scale. By carefully platforming and layering of the site our proposal refines the composition and placement of our four houses.

Our design concept embraces a cluster ‘pinwheel’ plan for two storey houses. Our design layout carefully responds to the topography by adopting an entrance courtyard level that minimises the net cut and thus reduces the volume of exported material whilst balancing the need to respect the scale of neighbouring housing.

The design allows for all of the four houses to share a common level access to the shared courtyard. The ethos of the design proposition promotes the reduction of the car encouraging inhabitants towards a sustainable means of living. The permeable courtyard surface is proposed as common access point for the site by foot and vehicle but also intends to act as an infrastructural SUDS element to deal with surface water across the site. Equally in order to minimise light spillage low level surface lights are proposed as means of protecting the dark night sky.

Our approach to landscape looks to embrace biophilic design principles throughout. In the gardens, timber crib walling, or possibly gabions, will be used to create the necessary platform level. The use of a waste quarry material has been explored for filling the gabions.  Our proposed private gardens and shared communal garden embraces native wildlife friendly species such as night flowering species, wildflower seed and perimeter indigenous ash trees to encourage ecology and biodiversity.