Tell us about the early design brief
The brief was the development of the Officers’ Field on the Portland Peninsula in Dorset. The homes would initially be used as the Athletes’ Village for the 2012 Olympic Sailing events held in the adjacent marina, prior to occupation by the local community.
What inspired your design concept?
The homes are designed around a shared expression of simple rendered gabled forms to reflect local vernacular architecture. These volumes are then wrapped and intersected by Portland stone ‘outbuildings’ that twist and turn in response to specific site conditions. Large windows openings are distributed to respond to views generating varying, contemporary elevations. The timber frame homes are all Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 and include features such as wood pellet heating, rainwater harvesting and sun pipes
The dwellings range from small terraced homes to larger detached homes in 8 basic arrangements which are then varied in response to their context. Larger homes share the organisational principle of a central stair to maximise views and aspect to both sides of the home, while smaller homes feature open plan living accommodation. Creative solutions were required to providing frontage to all of the adjacent roads and this involved a variety of split level, dual frontage designs with side gardens and roof terraces offering views.
How did it feel to be involved in such a large and important British project?
It is obviously an honour and hugely satisfying to receive extremely positive feedback from the competitors housed in the village.
What challenges did you face along the way?
HTA’s Landscape and Architecture team collaborated closely to embed the homes in their setting with local stone weaving through the site and connecting buildings to boundary walls, planters and steps in one continuous material.
The houses are designed with split levels that provide retaining structures to minimise cut and fill by following the existing ground form.
This process of knitting the new homes into the land was facilitated by use of a single site wide computer model used to test design ideas, refine views and resolve questions of massing.
The sculptural relationship between the existing site and new homes is evident when walking around the site, appreciating the views each home has and the way private space is integrated into the layout.
What about specific design challenges?
Inserting a large number of contemporary homes in a relatively traditional setting with a close-knit community is always challenging. Close consultation and a collaborative approach to design allowed us to proceed through planning with few real problems.