Precincts Housing Complexes

Some may argue that the Barbican is really 'just' a housing development but there are thousands of housing schemes around the world that are much more single use in nature. They follow an extraordinarily range of forms based on a variety of antecedent ideas. The Rationalist schemes generally follow models developed at the Bauhaus in Germany and advocated by architects such as Ludwig Hilbersheimer (see Figure 7.18), and by Le Corbusier in his proposals for ideal cities and neighbourhoods that culminated in the building of his Unité d'Habitation (see Chapter 6). Such forms still dominate residential area design in many countries today. Pruitt-Igoe is a 1950s American example.

The Empiricist proposals have either followed Garden City and neighbourhood unit principles or were simply pragmatic, financially driven schemes led by property developers. Private ownership was stressed. Lately many such residential area designs have been driven by New Urbanist ideas. The most important

Figure 7.18 A generic Bauhaus-type residential area design as presented by Ludwig Hilbersheimer.

Empiricist model for a residential area design for most of the twentieth century, however, was Radburn, New Jersey (1928+ but never fully completed), a much-loved total urban design scheme (Figure 7.19). The development company failed financially during the recession that followed the Wall Street collapse, but Radburn has been an influential design idea, as can be seen in the design of the GSFC Township in Vadodara (see Figure 7.6a).

Rationalist schemes were built everywhere. Sometimes they were successful in terms of their acceptance by their residents (e.g. in the early new towns of Singapore and in Korea and China), but at other times they have been notorious failures as happy living environments. The experience in the so-called AngloSaxon world has been very mixed, with major shortcomings in both social and physical design schemes in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. They failed to provide a suitable milieu for the lives of people with low incomes. Pruitt-Igoe has become a name synonymous with this failure. It was one of the spurs to the development of systematic studies of the person-environment relationship as a basis for creating urban design ideas. It also led to the re-recognition that urban design must also be more than simply 'architecture writ large'.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century a wide variety of primarily residential total urban designs are being built. They come in a range of product types. Some are traditional suburban developments; others follow seemingly newer ideas although many of those ideas have been around for almost a century. They include

gated 'communities' and retirement villages. The gated community is a highly contentious type designed to protect those who live within one from crime and the presence of unsavoury characters (Blakely and Snyder, 1997; Minton, 2002; Low, 2003). It is generally associated with wealthy enclaves in the United States, but it is a highly prevalent type for new middle-income housing in cities such as Seoul and Shanghai (Miao, 2003; see Figure 7.1). Raleigh Park included here is a half-hearted example of a gated community. Yet another type is the retirement community (called 'silver towns' in Korea) in which age restrictions preclude the residence of people under a specific age (usually 55 years). The more radical housing types include housing cooperatives, and 'cohousing'.

Cooperatives are multi-unit buildings or estates in which residents have rights to occupy their units by purchasing stock in the corporation formed to develop and own the project. The corporation is the client and an architect designs the project and then the corporation sells the rights to the units. The cooperative is then run and maintained by an elected board of directors who assign running costs to the shareholders. Cohousing complexes may or may not be cooperatives.

Cohousing involves the design of a number of houses, usually 20 or 30, to form a community. The houses are located around a common open space and a common building. The members of the group may share household activities such as cooking and child minding. The idea is primarily European, and Scandinavian in particular, but about 70 cohousing projects have been built in the United States since 1990 and at the time of writing (2004) another 70 were on the drawing boards. Most are designed by a single architectural firm for a single group. The maintenance and other communal costs are assessed against the residents. The example reviewed here is Trudeslund in Denmark. Its form is similar to Kresge College at the University of California at Santa Cruz. I have classified that as primarily an architectural scheme (see Chapter 6)! The distinction is not easy to defend but has to do with the permanency of residency, the communality of decision-making and property ownership. At Trudeslund the community itself made decisions based on a common social vision. At Kresge College a consultative design process was used but decisions were made from the outside from the top down. It is really a single building.

Major references

Franck, Karen and Sherry Ahrentzen (1989). New Households, New Housing. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Hayden, Dolores (1984). Redesigning the American Dream: The Future of Housing, Work and Family Life. New York: Norton.

Rowe, Peter (1993). Modernity and Housing. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment