Bad Design Compendium I: Housing do-nots

30 03 2011

By Scott Gibson

We’re now at the stage in our Freight Depot Site where we need to think about housing design in a bit more detail.   Predictably, this includes a bit of background reserach on housing examples as an inspiration for the standards that we’re looking to achieve.  So whilst everybody is digging deep into t’internet, and looking, quite predicatbly at Accordia, Poundbury and the more wierd and wonderful, I thought i’d go for examples of the what not to do.  So here are some identikit, anywhere, standard horrible housing which has sprung up, and sadly continues to spring up in our towns and cities.  Just make sure this doesn’t happen on your site!

Case Study 1:  The 70s Raburn.  Typically based on a layout where the frontage faces a pointless area of grass and where the rear is filled with a road, garages that are too small to park in and hence, a lot of abandoned…*ahem* parked cars. 

Case Study 2: The contemporary volume house builder density ‘tick-box’ flats.  Good for raising the density of any site above the minimum 30dph, if the rest of the development contains sprawling detached housing – not good however for achieving a good sense of place.

Case Study 3: DB32 at its very best!  DB32, or Design Bulletin 32 (dont ask me what Design Bulletins 1-31 are!) is the outdated design guide for residential roads.  The images below are examples of the results of highway engineering giving space to vehicles at the expense of pedestrians or the remote thought of creating a sense of place.

So there you have it.  A quick nutshell of what to avoid when designing quality housing layouts. 

Finally, you’ll notice that I put images up in pairs.  The images in each pair are at least 50 miles from each other!! 

Now can anyone tell me where they are?




One response

25 04 2011
Carlie Douglas

I am very glad that you put these up. It really points out the problems with recent housing developments in this country (not that the recent developments in the US are any good either!). These images also show the need for Urban Design and design coding very clearly. As my Design Thesis topic is on Healthy Living, this very much concerns me, especially the lack of any provision for cyclists and limited provision even for pedestrians. From all we know about the benefits of physical activity and the importance of a sense of place for reducing crime and promoting social inclusion, it is really shocking that these types of developments keep cropping up.

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