HTA@50 - Peabody Housetypes

In the late 1990's HTA designed a standard housetype range for The Peabody Trust with the aim of developing a systematic approach to housing design and construction. The programme improved design and quality standards and opened the way for mainstreaming offsite manufacture. The aim was to use the best learning from vernacular urban terrace forms to provide good ordinary housing based on repetitive design. 

Taking the layout of the typical narrow fronted Georgian house and its Victorian descendant as a proven template for organising the functions of a house, the design concept was based on an analysis of habitable rooms and their relationship to service and circulation zones. HTA generated plan types and construction principles that provided flexible spaces and future adaptability. The design was intended to use pre-manufactured elements and to be easy to build, free from internal loadbearing structure and also to carry predictable costs. All 'types' included an entry level kitchen and dining room with a living room at first floor level. The suite of 3, 4 and 5 bedroom house types provided each family with a front door to the street in a design that was easy to repeat and apply to the specific conditions of different sites with a focus on low cost medium-scale development.

Eight sites were developed in Tower Hamlets and Hackney using the developed system, all were either derelict or vacant and adjacent to residential and other mixed uses. Three were built to relocate families from a large estate nearby to enable its partial redevelopment, enabling residents to stay within their established community. Several sites involved detailed consultation with the anticipated residents to ensure specific needs were met for unit size and accessibility. The external appearance derived from crisp brickwork and an easily manufactured mono-pitch roof to cover each three-storey house, the vertical articulation quietly balancing the horizontality of the long terrace.

Post Occupancy Evaluation was carried out by Peabody on three developments and returned high levels of satisfaction with the new homes and their appearance, layout and space standards, all of which were judged to be of high quality. Toward the end of the project it was recognised that for maximum benefit the entire supply chain must support the adoption of design and construction with modular components.

This programme was a key moment for HTA, bringing together standardised but flexible 'kit of parts' housing approaches to urban sites, laying the foundations for our current work with local authorities and others on similar sites and also the development of modular housing capable of mass customisation. 

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