Innovation That Matters

The site was thought of as 'undevelopable' | Photo source Peter Barber Architects

Housing units that aid social interaction

Property & Construction

An architecture firm has designed a housing unit that is structured to encourage people to interact and build a community

Spotted: London architecture studio Peter Barber Architects has designed a housing terrace in Greenwich that repurposes a set of garages into eleven social housing flats. The new terrace not only provides much-needed housing for residents over 60, but it also creates an entirely new street. 

To get around the complexities of the site, which included the long, thin shape of the street, the studio used a two-storey configuration with five, two-bedroom homes on the ground floor and six, one-bedroom homes on the first floor, which are accessible from individual stairways. The ground floor units have outdoor space to the rear, while the first storey units have private terraces. There is also a common room to further encourage social interaction. 

Unusually for social housing, however, the homes were built along a pedestrianised street, with each unit having its own front door at the street, rather than in a block with a communal entrance. The thinking is that by creating a pedestrian street with many small homes, the residents will be encouraged to interact and it will create a greater sense of community.

Peter Barber, the founder of the firm, described the scheme as having, “no wasted space in the form of common area circulation, no common corridors or shared stairs. Instead, the project’s circulation is the mews itself … We hope it will become a place in which residents will be recognised by one another as they go to and from their homes, and we think it is more likely that people will feel like exchanging a friendly word in a street than they would in a common area corridor, lift or stairwell of a more conventional apartment building.”

There is a newfound interest from all ages in housing that helps to build a sense of community, but which also offers privacy and stylish design. At Springwise, we have seen this in recent innovations such as buildings designed with more communal space, and communal smart rental rooms.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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