The quest for a deeper approach of contemporary architecture to nature sometimes conceals the achievements of the past and this was what I witnessed when I started to hunt for a design scheme for a new housing project in the Davenport, and the town planning was the only option I was left with. While doing my research I came across many town planners but many were going through their own process of commissioning resulting in a situation of vulnerability and left indecisive.
The population of Davenport as a whole, is older than the national average. The population of Davenport is also older than the average, making Davenport an older person’s location. This has been the slur in the market about the Davenport, and my idea was to change this impression of the entire area by investing into a modern town planning even if it only offered 50 houses to reside, or own. It was hard to plant the idea among the residents when I first threw the word but later agreed to the idea, and I was not worried with the initial disagreement of the public either, as I knew that if I would be able to deliver spacious housing to people with all the amenities of contemporary age, all my houses will be sold in no time.
The tough knot was the design, such as Tudors, conventional Irish design, perpendicular Gothic, vernacular architecture or any hybrid from. This was when I decided to casually visit London to check with the flagship construction and town planning companies to see what they have to offer, and among many I came across Onstruction which is a small group builders and they take up small projects generally. I was a bit impressed with their work ethics, the way they behaved and the professionalism, or may be it is the London technique of gathering customers.
I personally liked the vernacular designs as the room for diversity and compatibility to local residents mind set, the area primarily loaded with farming community as well as the suburban living seemed to blend-in, especially it went by the Vernacular architecture’s definition, aim and structure. The Vernacular architecture is the most integrated architectural form in communion with the environment, local need and depicts cultural adaptation. Two important traces of vernacular architecture can be resources for contemporary architecture:
- The deep respect and perfect communion with the natural environment the perfect relation
- The understanding of users needs
Vernacular architectural is the result of a complex balance between material, shape and natural context, vernacular architecture could become an extremely useful model of inspiration for the present. From the intimate and personal experience with the wooden and wattle and daub architecture of South Eastern Europe, I noticed that the mentioned triad created very efficient eco-design outcomes that could be used today as models to generate an architecture closer to nature.
Onstruction showed me many design based over a series of case studies of vernacular architecture from different zones of the United Kingdom, Carpathians and the Danube area, which could function as models for an eco-architecture model, and which was mu ideology in developing a town in the area of Davenport, once listed as the worst areas to live in the vicinity of Manchester, United Kingdom. However, I wanted to keep the town unique while giving some credit to the natural beauty and keeping a few houses as forest houses or contemporary houses yet enabling the forest living.
For as soon as the design hunt was over, and I was happy with the Onstruction’s architectural design job, more important was now to contract out a team who could start with the project and seeking the project investors, as the town planning is not really a day’s job. The site selected was an area where there was nothing but a forest, the road lead through the forest and farms yet the basic facilities were to be provided. This called the need for the joint-venture construction and the funding. The modern perspectives required to include a new approach of specialists and communities, having as a purpose the understanding and integration of vernacular experiences and values in today’s projects in order to enable architects to be an active part in plural-disciplinary teams, to promote their responsibility to conserve and valorize built and landscape heritage and the re-use and integration of existing buildings, technologies and skills in contemporary design.
Detailed visit of the sites along with the Onstruction crew a few forest houses and they were refurbished, access ways were constructed, and this way many structures once forced to marry old buildings were interfaced with the new designs. A few forest houses, and cabins were left partially done quite masterfully as can be seen in the pictures below.
The newer additions are being added to the houses and few have been designed as long and angular. The houses exhibit a clearly sharp deviation, in opposition to the aging cottage that remains squat and textured. The glass and steel materials used throughout the new pieces of the under-construction houses are also distinctly modern and almost harsh against the surrounding natural area that includes grasses, shells, and wood.
Vernacular buildings across the globe has been an implementation among many town planning projects, and United Kingdom is no exception yet the propagation is still in the pipeline. My town planning project primarily designed by Onstruction provides instructive examples of sustainable solutions to construction matters, problems, and building mechanics. Yet, these solutions are assumed to be inapplicable to large or mega scale buildings or town planning where the properties in question exceeds 1000 or acres of land. Over the time period I realised that there continues to be a tendency to consider innovative building technology as the hallmark of modern architecture because tradition is commonly viewed as the antonym of modernity.
I have attempted to address many problems within in the modern construction such as spacious dwelling, air flow, cross ventilation, snowing, and the hallmark characteristic of almost entire UK weather is the cold and chill was to be addressed. In my town planning project, the problem was addressed by practical exercises and fieldwork studies in the application of vernacular traditions to current weather challenges and associated problems posed within UK. The creativity implemented in ecological design, modular and incremental design, standardization, and flexible and temporal concepts in the design of spaces. The blurred edges between the traditional and modern technical aspects of building design, as addressed by both vernacular builders and modern architects, were explored, implemented and commended by the people of Davenport.