Greenwich Housing is new public housing project for elderly and disabled people, comprising 22 single storey houses built across six sites in the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
The scheme marries public housing with exceptional design standards, providing much-needed homes for social rent suitable for people over 60 on small redundant sites. The project has assisted the borough in accommodating population growth and demographic change in an unobtrusive and cost-effective way, allowing residents to retain comfortable and independent lifestyles.
Greenwich Housing is new public housing project for elderly and disabled people by Bell Phillips Architects, encompassing a series of 22 single storey houses built across six sites in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Commissioned directly by the Royal Borough of Greenwich, the scheme marries public housing with exceptional design standards, and is providing much-needed homes for social rent for people over 60. By making productive use of underused sites (previously used for garages) and creating more suitable, smaller homes for older people, the project is also making existing social housing accommodation available for larger households and families. The £4.3 million development is currently completing, with the first houses now occupied.
Bell Phillips Architects’ design for each 2-bed 4-person home goes beyond standard requirements, and creates cost-effective housing that is easy for older occupants to manage. The internal area of each home is 90 sq.m (compared with the London Housing Design Guide minimum of 70 sq.m for a 2-bed, 4-person unit) due to the requirement to meet the Greenwich Wheelchair Housing Design Guide. The designs therefore allow older people to remain independent in their own homes for longer, retaining their sense of individuality and dignity, and reducing strain on local care facilities. Conscious that older people tend to spend more time at home, Bell Phillips Architects endeavoured to provide generous, contemporary, light-filled houses that people will enjoy living in.
In a design approach that simultaneously brings variety and uniformity, Greenwich Housing repeats a single prototype house design within terraces of two to six houses, depending upon the spatial constraints of each site. Each unit features a prominent zinc-clad monopitch roof, rising to 1.5 metres and creating a saw-tooth profile along the terrace. A large recessed window above each porch brings natural light deep into every home, and enhances the generous sense of space while maintaining privacy and avoiding overheating. The roof also gives the homes greater prominence in the street-scape enabling them to sit comfortably in different locations. A lower pitched roof to the rear creates additional internal headroom and visual interest along the rear elevation. Zinc and brick are the main elements of a simple and robust materials palette, with different shades of brick used depending on each site’s immediate context.
Internally, each home features a central galley kitchen, with flexible living and dining spaces to either side. The main bedroom benefits from excellent privacy and views towards a low maintenance private garden, while a second room facing the main entrance can be used as a guest bedroom, study or additional living space. A step free and largely open plan layout has been designed with the changing physical needs of older people particularly in mind.
Bell Phillips Architects’ scheme is bringing productive re-use to previously underused backlands, many of which had been a focus for crime and antisocial behaviour. As the new homes are surrounded by existing streets and houses, their new occupants can quickly settle into ready-made neighbourhoods while passive surveillance from nearby properties offers a greater sense of security. For the Royal Borough of Greenwich, the project is allowing the local authority to accommodate population growth and demographic change in a comfortable, unobtrusive and cost-effective way.