The British Homes Awards

STAITHS SOUTH BANK, PHASE ONE

It is perhaps ironic that the winning site in this category was formerly occupied by the 1990 National Garden Festival, although the gardens had long gone by the time George Wimpey North East acquired the abandoned site. Wimpey gave design champion Wayne Hemmingway the chance to make his mark on housing design here, and designer and developer worked with architect Ian Darby Partnership and landscape architect Glen Kemp to create a playground for children and adults alike.

The landscape architects took the lead in master planning the external spaces, applying home zone design principles throughout. The result is a well supervised public realm that operates at a more intimate human scale in which pedestrians have priority.

The scheme’s distinct character is enhanced by the incorporation of bespoke timber street furniture, including tables and chairs, and woven willow structures such as communal bin stores, all constructed by a local craftsman. The soft landscape framework uses hedges for enclosure and native or naturalistic species as much as possible.

These provide an attractive setting to hard landscaping elements and striking architectural elevations, and ensure seasonal change and local biodiversity are celebrated. Rather than predefine how space should be used, a robust framework to the external environment allows residents to use space as they wish. A central design principle was that good quality play opportunities should be deeply engrained within the landscape. All external space has become potential play space for old and young alike, creating a more dynamic street scene.

Residents have direct access to a communal garden via their back garden. These contain bespoke structures that residents can use as they wish: for chatting, play or a barbecue. Shared spaces serve to engender a sense of ownership and communal identity that is critical within a sustainable neighbourhood. Sustainable living extends to the specification of a garden shed for every garden and clear links to a riverside cycle route. Staiths South Bank now proudly boasts a cycle pool of ten shared bicycles.

ARCHITECT:

Glen Kemp
Address:
Design Works
William Street
Felling
Gateshead
NE10 0JP
Tel: 0191 495 2495
Website: www.glenkemp.co.uk
Contact: Philip Barker

HOMEBUILDER:

George Wimpey North East
Address:
North House
Wessington Way
Sunderland
SR5 3RL
Tel: 0191 516 5400
Website: www.georgewimpey.co.uk
Contact: John Foster