#004 Revolutionary Low-rise

I attended an RIBA Lecture titled Revolutionary Low-Rise. The UK housing crisis is a topical debate at present, this description was the thing that drew me in, promising a low-rise scheme to aid in the housing crisis whilst providing its inhabitants with a sense of community and equally privacy – basically having your cake and eating it.

The speakers at the event, were Abigail Batchelor Associate at Karakusevic Carson Architects and Mike Althorpe Research and development manager also at Karakusevic Carson Architects. They researched 9 case studies exhibiting high density living, using post-occupational studies to assess the successes and failures of each scheme. These projects were not based soley within the UK, but featuring projects from the USA and Europe also.

The different typologies featured complex layouts hosting both communal areas and private gardens.

“Responding to calls for a more humane approach to urbanism and challenging the orthodoxy of high-rise, architects in the 1960s embraced low rise-high density as an ethos to create innovative homes, while seeking to re-establish traditional patterns of community.

The UK led the way, offering alternative visions for urban living, which inspired a generation of projects across the world. Marking the publication of a new report supported by the RIBA Research Fund and Karakusevic Carson Architects, this event explores a radical period of experimental housing and discusses its legacy and lessons for London’s current drive to densify and develop its sprawling suburbs.

Barbican On Stage – Description of the Lecture

Overall, the entire presentation was very well done. The diagramatic images showed each project in an axonometric format, highlighting the key features in the floor plans. Each project responded very well to it’s surrounding context, stacking in height allowing for public and private pockets for each resident whilst providing an outdoor area.

The projects featured were:

Ruhrstraße 11, Kettwig Germany
1971 – 1972
Architect – Erwin Berning
Residential only

2433 28th Street, Santa Monica, LA
1980 – 1981
Architect – UFO (Urban Forms Organization) Steve Andre + David Van Hoy
Steve Andre, aka Steve Wiseman, Architect/Developer
Private
Residential only

Stellingmolen 161-19, Papendrecht, the Netherlands
1974 – 78
Architect – Frans van der Werf
Residential with commercial

Het College 15, Eindhoven Netherlands
1999 – 2003
Architect – Neave Brown
Private
Residential, retail and office

Spruce St, Philadelphia, USA
1968 – 1970
Architect – Louis Sauer
Edmund Bacon (City planner)
Residential + Community

Via Irma Bandiera, 16 Terni, Italy
1969 – 1975
Architect – Giancarlo De Carlo
Residential + Commercial+ Community
Suburban

Dartmouth Park Hill, London UK
1972 – 1979
Architect – Peter Tábori with Kenneth Adie, Camden Architects Dept.
London Borough of Camden
Public
Residential only

King Street, Cambridge UK
1965 – 1978
Architect – Ivor Smith, Cailey Hutton
Residential + commercial

Pimlico, Westminster, London, UK
1968-1972
Architects – Darbourne and Darke
Public
Residential + Community + Commercial

I didn’t have a favourite project, as they were all rather exemplary in their own way. I would like to see London adopt more of the key principles which resonated through these projects, for their future homes. Adapting each project to its context opposed to stacking generic floor plates… One key theme which I am seeing more and more of in the Architectural world, is mixed used schemes. Creating little communities such as those featured in the presentation, but also hosting public drycleaners, convenience stores, offices and pods for multifunctional space usage. If you wanted a yoga class space for example…

The document definetly explains this in more detail, and I feel these studys should be utalised more and more as we attempt to define communities without actually embracing the context or the opinions of those who might want to live in these spaces..

The take away from the Lecture was that, there are a lot of positives, and very minor negatives:

  • Low rise High Density encourages intergenerational living
  • Encourages smart mixes such as commercial and retail included in the residential blocks
  • Encourages a sense of community
  • Encourages a sesne of space and ownership
  • If executed correctly, it encourages a dynamic and original home

For more information – Revolutionary Low Rise can be found here

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