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The Triangle

Swindon, Gloucestershire, UK

This scheme for 43 social homes is for HAB Housing, fronted by television presenter Kevin McCloud and a local RSL, Green Square won the Housing Award in 2010. The back-land site in Swindon had been a lorry park, and the vision was to create a humane, climate responsive, low carbon project. We worked with Glenn Howells Architects and engineers Max Fordham and Curtins Consulting working together on low energy, minimal carbon, dwellings using carbon negative hemcrete - and ‘chimneys’ as part of the passive ventilation. Sustainable Drainage and urban thermal regulation are embedded in the external design as a biodiverse, playful, edible, home zone that includes green walls and roofs. Cars have been limited with car share and cycles as part of the travel plan, and care has been taken to reduce their visual impact on the home zone by extending the home frontages with espalier fruit trees and freestanding gabion walls that enclose bin/recycling pods. The central space is supplemented by two kitchen gardens, one with poly-tunnels irrigated by water harvested from roofs. The scheme was presented to local residents at a community exhibition, and should be occupied this summer, and will feature in Grand Designs on Channel 4. Studio Engleback applied their ethos of ecourbanism, a whole system approach to sustainable planning and design, to the Triangle Project working closely with Glenn Howells and Curtins Consulting. The multi-functional environmental infrastructure delivers a series of environmental services including: sustainable drainage, water harvesting, biodiversity, food production, social interaction, air cleaning and microclimate control. These hard and soft elements are, rightly, integrated into a simplicity of design that works as an extension of the architecture - our collective aim was to produce an extraordinary ‘ordinary’ 21st century vernacular that increases wellbeing and human comfort.        


The studio also participated in an HTA funded scheme published in November 2011, using this site as a worked example, to assess the moniterised value of the landscape relating to these diverse services. It calculated an almost £500 000 increase in value to the £4.2million built scheme, based on a series of criteria such as the value of food grown, of ecosystem services and property values. Project leader formerly of CABE, Anne Jalouzot, wrote: “Green Infrastructure thinking is certainly not new. What is novel, however, is the physical scale and range of needs for which this approach is now being applied. This is where the greatest potential lies for landscape architecture to drive, structure, and deliver the sustainability agenda.” The project has been published as an exemplar scheme in the Landscape Institute's Position Statement on Housing Design. An Edible Landscape Manual we wrote to expound the HAB values of one planet living and edible neighbourhoods was given to every resident in a presentation pack with packets of seeds, and this is a guide to where they can find the edible infrastructure in the design, how they can grow their own food and recipes to enjoy the fruits of their labours. This won the Landscape Institute Award 2011 for communications in November 2011 and Kevin and Luke were there to collect the award from Tim Smit, creator of the Eden project. The panel of judges commented “ An inspiring piece of work that communicated a ‘getting back to basics’ message. The booklet gave a real sense of bringing a community together and making them more self-sufficient and sustainable. A powerful way of engaging people with their landscape”

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