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48 PROJECT REPORT: SOCIAL & AFFORDABLE HOUSING


The project provided the architects with an opportunity to add the natural complexities of lanscaping into something as functional as a walkway


Rather than create any kind of dichotomy between the more and less expensive homes, the entire new district of Mas de Rochet retains a common sense of place in its design. The 52 houses for first time buyers, while separated into duplexes a short walk from the apartment blocks, offer the same mix of rough stone, earthy browns and yellows, and stark whites on their exterior.


Outdoor areas


It is important for many who design buildings to ensure that the line between the natural and the man-made is not too thickly drawn. It is a time-honoured technique to introduce vegetation externally in such developments to offer a beneficial impact on both the physical and mental wellbeing of residents. This project is no exception, providing the architects, who also undertook the landscape design, with an opportunity to add the natural complexities of nature into something as functional as a walkway.


PROJECT FACTFILE


Architect: A+Architecture Social housing: 126 units (developer Amétis)


First-time buyer individual housing: 52 units (developer – Idéom) Senior long-term care: 109 units (developer – Nexity) High-end housing: 97 units (developer – Helenis)


There was no vegetation at all on site when the architects began their work designing the project. After the quarry ceased its activities, a small concrete brick plant was established, and a concrete slab covering the entire site was laid. This, of course, meant that all vegetation now seen on the development had to be planned, and planted.


Access by car to the site is strictly limited to a circular road in and out, which allowed for the multiple central plots, all pedestrianised, to be widely planted upon. The relatively unstable cliffs around the site were consolidated by adding new earth banks, which were also generously planted to bring more life to the homes’ surroundings.


Greenery is a central theme across Mas WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK


de Rochet, contrasted with the earthy palette of the surrounding buildings and white concrete pathways. Dedicated and well-tended plant beds can be seen frequently on the circular road, split into triangles and other geometrically distinctive shapes, and contrasted with both dirt and white gravel beds which provide attractive breaks between the pathways. The focus is less on flowering varieties, but more on Mediterranean plants with low water demand; trees, bushes and climbing species providing crucial colour and life to the development. A central focus of the design of the new district, open communal areas encourage community by increasing the likelihood of serendipitous encounters between residents, and providing them a place to meet and socialise outside of their homes. Contributing towards this, parallelepiped stone seating has been placed intermittently besides the plant beds, encouraging residents to have a moments’ respite in the communal areas. To ensure these benefits can be enjoyed at all times of day, as well as improving safety standards in the darker hours, all of the outdoor communal areas are well-lit. Much of the lighting is provided by tall lamp-posts, designed with a sharp-edged style that complements the buildings they illuminate.


Conclusion & reaction


Pride in a living space can be instrumental in turning what might otherwise be isolated living spaces into a part of a community. It is therefore advantageous for architects to be able to introduce beauty and elements of architectural significance into people’s homes, providing residents with something to appreciate, as well as show off to friends and family. 


ADF SEPTEMBER 2018


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