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MacEwen 2021 longlist: New approaches to housing

Innovative housing schemes involve a self-build project managed by participants forming their own company, and social rent homes designed to Passivhaus standards

  • Passivhoos.
    Passivhoos. Credit: Tom Manley
  • Passivhoos.
    Passivhoos. Credit: Tom Manley
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Passivhoos, Scotland
John Gilbert Architects with Stewart & Shields for various HA clients

Passivhoos is a collaboration between the architect and contractor Stewart & Shields to deliver social housing to Passivhaus standard across Scotland. The collaboration has realised 21 social rent homes, 10 of them at Linn Walk, Garelochead – Scotland’s largest Passivhaus housing project.

A discussion between contractor and architect about the low ambitions in Scottish housing led to them developing a model for Passivhaus homes that was genuinely affordable. Passivhaus can crucially help eliminate fuel poverty. Stewart & Shields built a full-scale timber-frame prototype of the houses in a factory, enabling it to train apprentices and site staff in Passivhaus techniques. More than 20 of them, from a variety of backgrounds, have been trained so far.

The housing associations the firms have worked with represent rural areas where fuel poverty runs in 30% to 50% of households. Performance was a key driver, since previous developments have left performance shortfalls, affecting tenants’ fuel bills and their finances.

Work with Nith Valley Leaf Trust illustrates the social benefit. Through Passivhoos, NVLT can offer secure, long term tenancies for young working families to remain in their rural community. In an area of rising rents, community ownership guarantees affordable rent. Most tenants have family nearby but were unable to find suitable housing for themselves, so the project strengthens community relations and family support as well as directly addressing homelessness.


 

  • Laureates Place.
    Laureates Place. Credit: Deramore Hutchcroft
  • Laureates Place.
    Laureates Place. Credit: Deramore Hutchcroft
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Laureates Place, Saddleworth
Deramore Hutchcroft for Laureates Place Self-Build Ltd

Nestled in the sloping green hillsides of Woodbrook in Saddleworth, amid picturesque pubs and cottages on leafy country lanes, sits Laureates Places. A hamlet of nine houses, tranquility reigns here. Horses roam freely in the fields, grazing on moorland grass. The silence is broken only by the white noise of a stream trickling nearby. This community spirit is all the more striking when one considers the residents had been total strangers when they came together in 2014 to start a not-for-profit community led housing project.

The architect convinced strangers to band together and set up Laureates Place Self-Build Ltd. This enabled them to approach landowners and the local council to find an acceptable site for them to build, to have a say in decisions on the design of the homes and the neighbourhood, and to be able to own and manage the site collectively.

Forming a company opened lots of doors for funding opportunities, such as from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), and for getting planning permission on the site. The group worked on the design and layout of their neighbourhood, its roads and infrastructure and their individual homes.