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MARLEY ETERNIT - Kevin McCloud’s Revolutionary Sustainable Housing Scheme Complemented By Diverse Roofing Design

A company owned by TV architecture expert, Kevin McCloud, has specified Marley Eternit’s Hawkins clay plain tiles for a pioneering low-energy housing development in Swindon.

The Triangle, a sustainable 42-home development, has been developed by HAB Oakus, a joint venture between Kevin McCloud’s HAB development company and housing group GreenSquare. The homes are a mixture of apartments and 2-4 bedroom houses, and offer a contemporary interpretation of Swindon’s abundance of mid-Victorian railway cottages. The designs, by Glenn Howells Architects, won the accolade of a Housing Design Project Award in 2010, before the project was even at completion.

April 2010 saw work begin on the 0.8 hectare backlands site in Swindon that is surrounded by Victorian terraces and pre-war semis with deep rear gardens. Daniel Mulligan, from Glenn Howells Architects, explains: “Backlands developments tend to be affected by issues such as overlooking which, in turn, determines design. But, with The Triangle there is a bold identity and layout, partly due to the depth of surrounding plots. This is evident in the 40m-plus access road located between two existing properties, which residents will use to approach their discrete community.”

The homes have been built to meet Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, with the potential to be upgraded to a higher standard in the future. The commitment to sustainability on the project includes features such as triple glazing, air source heat pumps and grey water recycling. External walls are built from hemcrete and a passive stack ventilation system drives hot and stale air via stairwells to vent through a chimney.

Kevin McCloud comments: “As HAB Oakus’ first development, The Triangle is a really important scheme for us to showcase our vision of creating beautiful and sustainable housing that is designed in context with its surroundings. It’s informed by our fundamental principles of a strong sense of community, a belief in the importance of public space, respect for cyclists and pedestrians, and a commitment to sustainable lifestyles.”

One of the most exciting areas of the project was the roof. Daniel Mulligan explains: “As the properties are grouped into four separate terraces surrounding open space, the challenge for us was how to achieve a different roofing aesthetic on each terrace while keeping within the existing budget.

“We specified the Marley Eternit Hawkins clay tile in three different shades – blue smooth, Staffordshire blue and Staffordshire mixture. Then, instead of laying them in the standard way we created a different rhythm and pattern for each roofscape, to generate a completely different effect for each.

“By using this product in an interesting and creative way we have achieved a real richness and texture to each roofscape, with the appearance constantly changing depending on the light and which angle it is viewed from.”

Richard Bishop, campaign manager at Marley Eternit, said: “When the architects approached us we were more than happy to help this unique innovative project to reach fruition. As well as the heritage aesthetic offered by Hawkins clay tiles, which have been produced for over 150 years, they were also ideal for meeting the strong sustainability aims of the project, as they can achieve an A+ rating in the BRE Green Guide to Specification.”

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) was so impressed with plans for the scheme that it agreed to invest £2.5 million to assist with build costs. It particularly highlighted that the project meets the need for high quality, affordable housing in the South West and can lead the way for other housing providers.

Kevin McCloud concludes: “The Triangle is about more than creating new homes – it's about creating a really strong and cohesive community from the outset that also introduces the World Wildlife Fund’s One Planet Living principles of genuine sustainability to Swindon. Small features such as residents being encouraged to use public transport through the information screens in each home and parking limited to one car per property, alongside the kitchen gardens and allotments designed for residents’ use mean that we are also encouraging sustainable lifestyles.”

The new homes were completed earlier this year and are now available to rent through the GreenSquare housing association, with rent-to-buy opportunities on offer for Swindon’s doctors, nurses and other key workers.

E-mail Marley Eternit

 


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