Our work throughout the UK has given us a broad perspective on recent initiatives in new residential design and implementation through design briefing, design guidance and design coding. Each is different and each has seen varying degrees of success.
The reality of so much commercial development – whether for housing or other uses – is that developers seek to extract the maximum value at the earliest possible stage, without recognising that a greater value can be created by establishing a strong brand identity and quality over time.
To create a strong sense of place that is more than just a collection of individual buildings, it is necessary to orchestrate the elements within some constraining parameters which reinforce each other, creating strong place-identity. Ideally, this should be drawn from context. This does not mean religiously replicating an assembly of traditional buildings, internal layouts, or external materials. Rather it means understanding, appreciating and drawing from the positive aspects local areas and building these into something contemporary. Attractive, desirable quality places – which are socially inclusive, rather than exclusive – are the key to fostering successful areas in the long term and design guidance can help to achieve this, for example through:
- the opportunity to create a special places through careful orientation and attention to landscape setting
- asserting a distinctiveness and strong identity
- determining the spatial structure of streets and buildings
- optimising community benefits and viability if possible
- flexibility and evolution in the approach
We have been advocates of design briefing, guidance and coding for many years and have considerable academic and practical experience of using the various forms of guidance to achieve the best results in different circumstances. This is demonstrated in our recent work on Supplementary Planning Guidance for 15 potential housing sites for Scottish Borders Council and in the Twechar Design Guide for the Twechar Regeneration Group and East Dunbartonshire Council.