In an increasingly collaborative construction industry in the early years of the new Millennium, a partnership of stakeholders and experts identified underused, poor quality housing at Oakridge in Basingstoke, designed its replacement and improvement, then constructed it with an innovative modular system manufactured off site.
A Partnering agreement between the Housing Association, Local Authority, cost consultants, residents’ panel, contractor and Architect brought HTA’s expertise in estate regeneration and community engagement to realise the improved connections, housing and amenities that would comprise the multi-phase scheme. USER, a subsidiary of HTA, with 15 years experience carrying out social surveys and consultation as part of resident engagement on many HTA projects now went online in the early days of the internet enabling tenants to provide information, see designs, comment and log their choices.
The final layout addressed the requirements of the new PPG3 to create choice, quality housing on brownfield that didn’t reinforce social distinction. The design linked Oakridge to existing features in the wider context, created a green route through the development and redirected bus routes to the main square at the vibrant, busy centre. Three storey buildings formed the main square enclosing a play area and shops, lower density areas and homezones toward the periphery integrated with the scale of neighbouring streets. The scheme involved the demolition of 148 unpopular maisonettes, shops, community centre and church to provide 294 flats and houses, a community centre, pub, church and shops. Half of the dwellings were for rent and half for sale pepper-potted across the site.
Using Light Gauge Steel Frame panels made offsite it become the largest LGSF housing scheme in Europe at the time. Following the experience of modular housetypes developed by HTA for Peabody the standardisation and use of offsite construction appealing to developers enabled variety and quality through customisation and adaptability. Houses were designed to a consistent depth and a variety of widths to meet spatial needs. The front façade could adopt various material finishes and components such as single & double height bays, balconies and Dormer spaces from bespoke factory made components.
Phase Two of four completed the village centre by 2005. Using Oakridge as an exemplar Ben Derbyshire wrote about a Modern Modular Vernacular as an approach for housebuilders to deliver quality and efficiency through modern methods of construction together with variety and adaptation utilising off-site manufactured components. The project was recognised with a RIBA Housing Design award and Building for Life Gold standard. Oakridge Village has created a popular place designed in consultation with local groups that is a hub of activities and local interaction in a suburban setting.