Completed - Design for Manufacture / Oxley Woods
It was hailed as a solution to the housing crisis – cheap, affordable and quick-to-build prefabricated homes, fashionably designed by one of the country’s leading architects.
But while Richard Rogers’ landmark Oxley Woods development won industry awards for its experimental and environmentally friendly design, mass orders for the off-the-peg homes did not follow, after the project was beset by problems.
Six years on, Rogers’ firm, Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners (RSHP), is set to reveal an improved “Mark II” version of its pre-fab housing at a Royal Academy exhibition in a few weeks.
The timing is perfect. Amid the grip of austerity, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander last week committed £3bn to affordable housing to kick-start the “biggest public housing programme for over 20 years”. With it came a demand for 165,000 new affordable homes by 2018 – meaning clever and sustainable designs are not only badly needed, but now, crucially, potentially part-funded by government.
Legoland? His first attempt at affordable housing
Taxi drivers call it Legoland. But the people who live in the multi-coloured prefabricated homes designed by Richard Rogers in Oxley Woods are more than happy with the community it has created.
Built – or, rather, put together – in 2007 by Taylor Wimpey, the award-winning development is home to graphic designers, architects, hairdressers and IT specialists. Many of the couples are mixed ethnicity, gay or elderly. In a sample survey of residents 18 months after completion every single one said they would recommend the development to family and friends.
Rogers was responding to the then Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott’s Design for Manufacture challenge to create a house that could be built from modern materials for £60,000. The 122 homes are designed to be constructed in three days from full-height insulated wall panels, and although there were teething problems with leaks and faulty doors and windows, residents say there is nowhere else they’d rather live.
Richard Rogers turned 80 last week:
The Royal Academy is profiling his groundbreaking work:
Richard Rogers RA: Inside Out - Exhibitions - Royal Academy of Arts
Design for Manufacture - Oxley Woods (HD) - YouTube
Richard Rogers: Inside Out, at Royal Academy - Telegraph
Richard Rogers at 80: principles and power | Art and design | The Guardian
“A street is not a road,” proclaims one highlighted statement. “A street belongs to the people and the buildings that enrich it. It is a place.
A people's place.” Lord Rogers has, uniquely, never been afraid to bring politics – left-leaning in his case – into the design debate.
But another message in the exhibition declares: “Architecture mirrors society, its civility and its barbarism.”
Richard Rodgers: Inside the mind of a political visionary - Features - Art - The Independent
For centuries, caution and a deep historical sensibility has ensured that Britain moves to the future without bulldozing its past. It can, at times, be maddening for most of us. All those damned planners who interfere with your right to do what you please in your home and garden! Who do they think they are? But these are vital arguments and some necessary rules to ensure no development takes place without due care. The new needs to be properly scrutinised and attachment to what has been must also be robustly interrogated.
How money and amenity contend in our cities - Comment - Voices - The Independent