This is proof that there is no such thing as a project HemingwayDesign can't upcycle – for in January 2006, we started to apply our thrifty principles to an entire housing estate.
When we first went to visit Evenlode, a tired 1960s estate in Maidenhead, Berkshire, it was (urban design) love at first sight. Evenlode was exactly the type of social housing which, when there is a lack of creative vision, is unceremoniously and unnecessarily pulled down across Britain.
So, we set to work. Evenlode's generously-sized homes were swimming about in a sea of under-utilised green space, which allowed us to add new homes which would improve the product mix. This was a development that didn't need flattening to enable a sustainable, cost-effective regeneration; Evenlode could be upcycled.
This is what we said in June 2008: “The right decision has been made to remodel, rather than rebuild, Evenlode. It's the most sustainable and least wasteful solution. Evenlode is blessed with a great location, wonderful open space and has tremendous potential to be a real beacon for housing in Maidenhead. From when we first met the Housing Solutions team, we knew that this was a forward-thinking group with human values, and we are looking forward to showing them and the residents our first ideas. Working together, we can all make Evenlode a shining example of how to sustainably upgrade a 1960s housing development."
After 18 months of public consultation and design thinking, architects Hunters, who share our philosophy about creative reuse of buildings, joined the team. Then, in January 2011, the scheme got planning permission from Maidenhead County Council. This is what Jill Caress, group business development director of Housing Solutions had to say on our partnership: “Housing Solutions is delighted to be working with HemingwayDesign on the regeneration of our Evenlode estate. Our initial idea had been to demolish and rebuild the estate, but by involving HemingwayDesign and working with residents, we now have an exciting, innovative and practical design which will transform Evenlode into a desirable place to live. The proposals involve sustainable design and construction, imaginative play and leisure space and the introduction of new lifetime homes. HemingwayDesign have listened to our residents and brought innovation and creativity to our thinking over the future of these homes.”
The end result are pretty simple and common sense solutions, really – introducing streets in the true sense of the word, breaking up the monotony, introducing variety, adding privacy and making the green spaces sing – but they're design values which people respond to, and have the power to transform a forlorn estate into a thriving community.
The project completed in mid 2015 and you can download more in depth detail here.