Bringing the outside in to create high quality homes for older people.
In 2014, Phoenix Community Housing (PCH) identified Hazelhurst Court as an opportunity to provide new homes for their older residents on an underused site, and in turn, free up larger homes for local families. As their first new build development, PCH were keen for it to set a high standard for others in the pipeline.
Our challenging brief was to integrate 60 new homes and facilities on a constrained site, adjacent to a 1960s PCH flat block. As well as maximising the provision of new homes, we needed to create communal spaces that could be enjoyed by all residents – regardless of where they live in the development, or their physical and mental health.
As a resident-led organisation, PCH engaged extensively with existing and new residents, in addition to its own stakeholders and members, as proposals developed. Being closely involved in this process, many of the discussions at consultation events informed elements of the project’s design. We subsequently gained a real understanding of PCH’s community ethos, which we wanted to reflect within the revived Hazelhurst Court.
Creating usable and enjoyable communal space was key, so working within the tight plot, we introduced a building that adjoins the existing block to form a horseshoe with two new courtyards – one enclosed and intimate, and another more open and green, connected by a new garden room. The second smaller building sits opposite, across a newly landscaped street.
Being mindful that many older people spend more time inside, the design is centred on the concept of bringing the outside in. All homes are accessed via outdoor galleries and dual aspect to provide ample daylight, ventilation and a visual connection to the courtyards and neighbouring streets. Planters and seats in front of kitchen windows add to the sense of greening and community, whilst offering the opportunity for growing, personalisation and socialising. Similarly, the new garden room provides a generous, light-filled communal space.
The animated courtyard façades respond to the location and layout of homes: brick lattice screens in front of entrance doors provide a degree of privacy, whereas areas in front of planters and seating are open. Balcony details take a courteous cue from the best bits of the 1960’s building next door. The grid extends into the landscape, with the enclosed courtyard featuring a fish pond, seating areas and planters at different levels to form a rhythm and geometry, in contrast to the softer walking loop, patio and trees in the open courtyard, which provide physical and visual stimuli.