299 - The Hamptons, St James Group, Worcester Park, Surrey
We were commissioned by the St James Group to explore and develop a series of house unit templates, to "re-think" their typical residential unit format. We explored elements within "phase 3" of the masterplan development described as a "residential circus". The proposals were high sustainable and constructed from natural palettes of materials, to rest within the forest site context. The units were modular in principle - extendable to form the 4 different types offered across the project.SitingThe general siting has been retained from the original masterplan, with 18 of the 22 houses facing onto the circular public space in the centre. The remaining 4 houses form the neck into the circus from the sculpture park. These 4 houses create a formal entrance ‘gateway’ into the park from the pedestrian link from Browning Avenue and into the circus for the residents arriving home.Building lineThe houses around the circus are set in accordance with their specific plot shape and size. The larger houses are set back and the smaller set forward. This maximises the space between each house and allows the majority of the double garages to be set to the side and towards the rear, thus letting the front façade of the house face fully onto the circus.MassingThe houses are 2 storeys in height retaining the domestic scale of dwellings set within the landscape, rather than the more urban scale height such as the townhouses or apartments buildings in other areas around the park. The strong external frame of the houses forms a natural front and back orientation. This allows them to address both the public space with the front façade and welcoming entrance and the more private areas of the rear garden where the house ‘spills out into the landscape’.Public AmenityThe houses face onto the amenity space, enclosing it and ensuring it has natural surveillance. The landscaping of the park has in effect been brought into the circus and has its own character enhanced by the circle of houses. The pedestrian link through the public space flows through to the park beyond and emphasizes its use as a sustainable area of public space while contrasting in scale to the larger more open areas of the sculpture park.Private AmenityEach plot has been divided to allow frontage onto the public space in the centre while also giving privacy to both front and back gardens. The ground cover and planting of the public space flows out across the circular road and forms a soft edge to the private front lawn of each dwelling without the need for fencing at the front. The changing plot size allows this line to flow in a natural way to form the barrier between public and private space. The rear gardens are all fenced and allow for privacy in the siting of the houses on the individual plot.Vehicular Access and ParkingVehicular access is from the ‘neck’ of the circus adjacent the sculpture park. The road is finished in bonded shingle which gives a quiet domestic scale to the circus encouraging slower speeds. The road at the neck of the circus is raised to pavement level and finished in the blue engineering brick of the pavements. Each house has its own driveway, ungated, giving access to either integral single garages (8 no.) or double garages set towards the rear side of the houses. The driveways are finished in shingle to enhance the natural pallet of the landscaping and to allow the hard landscaping to fully integrate in the softer planting.Cycle AccessThe cycleway into the site from Browning Avenue is landscaped and lit and flows into the circus in a clear linear route. Bicycles circle the circus on the road and continue into the sculpture park along the tree lined avenue at the ‘neck’ of the scheme.Pedestrian AccessPedestrians entering from the sculpture park have a safe route on both sides of the neck, with the vehicular access also raised and bricked to ensure slow speeds and vigilant driving. Pedestrians entering from Browning Avenue have a landscaped, lit, safe route into the circus and can then walk through the landscaping of the public area in the centre. Access to each house is via a garden path leading clearly to the front door at the front of the house.OrientationThe formal placing of the houses around the circus gives rise to different orientations to the front and rear of the houses depending on where they are on the circle. The positioning of each garage in relation to each house therefore aims to enhance the sunlight by being sited to the north of each rear deck. Where the front of the house faces south, the landscaping will address the privacy of the front garden without overshadowing it.
- Design completed May 2005