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27


BUILDING PROJECTS


MUCH WENLOCK HOUSING SHROPSHIRE


Raising the standard


Jack Wooler explores the architects’ strategy behind a social housing scheme in Much Wenlock, Shropshire – a project which shows how Passivhaus can be achieved in a design that also worked with difficult terrain.


O


n the steeply sloping site of Callaughtons Ash, Much Wenlock, a new social community is now up


and running, providing an exemplar in sustainable building. Completed in July 2018, the £2m development of one, two and three bedroom homes displays locally sourced clay tiles and bricks with UK grown timber cladding, all built to the Passivhaus standard. The stringent albeit voluntary test far exceeds Building Regulations and requires a mixture of reduced heat loss from a highly insulated structure, plus passive heat gains, to vastly reduce overall energy consumption.


Comprising two shared ownership and 10 homes for social rent, the super-green development is intended as a model for sustainability, unlocking small greenfield sites, and improving the quality of family living in rural areas of the West Midlands. Architype, a practice based in neighbouring Herefordshire which specialises in ecological design, was responsible for this project. As such it has been heavily involved in the process from start to finish.


They were not chosen by chance; the architect’s managing director (Jonathan Hines) had previously given the client a talk on sustainable design and Passivhaus, and identified this housing project as an ideal pilot for testing out the standard in the area.


The finished development has achieved this ecological ideal successfully, with social housing proving to be an ideal place for the


standard to flourish – leaving residents better off both in terms of their finances and their wellbeing, and providing another exemplar case study of hitting the standard to add to the practice’s portfolio.


The objectives


As part of the neighbourhood development plan Much Wenlock town council have been undertaking, a specific set of objectives was decided at the outset.“Some of that involved high quality design space, utilising local materials, aspirations for high levels of sustainability, and quite involved consultation,” says Paul Neep, associate at Architype. “Also, what was key of course was the delivery of social housing, because it is an area of Shropshire where people are having to move out because of the cost of living within the town.”


This neighbourhood plan, alongside the lack of affordable housing in the area, were the initial drivers of the scheme – with the Shropshire Housing Group, who have now become part of the Connexus Group, working in close collaboration with the town council to achieve it.


The architects worked alongside the client closely during this time, “almost as a combined process,” says Neep. “All the consultation events, and a lot of the design workshops included representatives from the council, as well as from the client group, in order to develop what they could see as being an aspirational project – an example of how development should be undertaken in Much Wenlock.”


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