Living Steel

Our winning design for this international competition for sustainable living maximises recycled materials and reusable components and shows how this form of housing can be implemented anywhere in the world.

Means of construction
For the sub-structure of our dwelling we propose to use volumetric steel modules constructed from a fully welded hot and cold rolled steel frame. These modules are factory built and fully fitted out prior to delivery to site. It is then a very simple process on site of craning the module onto prepared foundations. In this case we propose steel screw foundations which minimise damage to existing tree roots.

Building of community
Our approach was to split the site into twenty-four plots where piles and services are installed, waiting for the plots to be colonised. This colonisation can happen as required; either as one entity or gradually building up to the full masterplan through phased development. The use of off-site manufactured modules and other building elements limits the disruption to any existing residents during the phased completion option.

Access and permeability
The site is accessible from one side only. Cars and pedestrians enter through gaps in the street front. Cars are encouraged to slow down through the use of landscaping in a home zone style central space. This space also allows pedestrians to gain access to the dwellings located deeper in the site. Access to the apartment buildings is directly from the street. Parking for apartments is in home zone areas on ‘side streets’ which would also provide fire appliance access if the site were to be expanded.

Views out
Buildings are arranged so to allow views out beyond the site. A greater sense of open space is created.

Shared spaces – social mix
Our design is socially inclusive by encouraging a sense of community. A cross-section of social groups are included and are encouraged to meet by limiting access to the site to only two points. Therefore a greater likelihood of people passing their neighbours on a regular basis is created. A hierarchy of external spaces also gives opportunities for people to meet: a central area where people can sit, children can play and two smaller areas that could be either communal gardens or allotments. All these areas will offer direct sun-light throughout the year.

Our design statement and study model demonstrated how many varied forms could be created with standard components, giving potential for a subtly graduated series of spaces from public to private.

Steel modular construction – flexibility
Offsite factory-assembled steel modules are used for all dwelling types. We have employed two sizes, the largest of which forms the basis of all the dwelling types. By adding the second smaller module a variety of dwelling sizes can be made either by horizontal or vertical expansion. Wall or floor panels can be omitted or made removable to allow expansion and creation of double height spaces.

Offsite manufacturing
The design maximises standardised building elements which can be made offsite; foundations, stairs, cladding and bathroom pods. Construction is therefore easier, safer and faster. This would also lessen the impact on the local area of delivery lorries. Another advantage of factory made components is the increase quality of the finished product since quality checks are made at the factory.

Replication
Our 50m plot can be easily replicated or adapted to different sites either in clusters, linear forms, deep sites and irregular sites. With modular construction there is a real financial benefit in the greater number of units built due to economies of scale.

Active street frontage

It is important that the street has a lively feel. This is achieved by the inclusion of accommodation on the ground floor at the site corners which can be used for either work, recreation or community uses. These spaces offer a mix of uses and could offer workspaces to residents, therefore limiting travel.

Orientation
Flexibility of orientation is achieved through the stepped forms around open courtyards. The site can have a southern, south-western or west-eastern aspect. The taller apartment building would always be located on the appropriate edge.