Hargood Close

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Location: Colchester, Essex

Client: Family Mosaic

Project Year: 2013

Cost: Over £2m

Hargood Close provides a mix of apartments (including studios and one and two bedroom dwellings) and family houses. The new accommodation is arranged around two landscaped courtyards which were inspired by the many fine examples of 19th Century almshouses that can be found in this part of Essex.

It was an important aspiration of the client group that the new accommodation should have the domestic feel of mainstream housing development and not appear institutional. To this end the scale and public realm qualities of the traditional almshouses were felt appropriate. The massing and built form of the new buildings is configured to complete the principle frontage. A perpendicular terrace sets up the ‘gabled’ gatehouse and organises the primary route into the site.

The new dwellings are arranged in six building clusters formed of simple brick two storey pitched roof structures which create the new shared surface and landscaped courtyards. Provision for storage was a significant concern for those that manage these facilities and in this design it is incorporated as an integral part of the composition and architectural language. Brick clad storage units, located at the ground floors, form part of the rhythm and support for the cloisters and first floor decks that provide access and shelter to both the ground and first floor entrances.The elevations are given further rhythm, scale and expression with the use of panels of highly textured brickwork. This takes the form of a projecting bond on some elevations while on the upper level of the cloisters the panels are formed of a perforated bond that provides a dappled light and the required levels of ventilation. This attention to detail brings a contemporary approach to the craft of brickwork. The domestic qualities of the 19th Century almshouses, mentioned earlier, are in part due to the craftsmanship that these buildings display.The language adopted for this new development, is not a pastiche of history, but proffers a 21st Century interpretation of this successful housing model.

Hargood Close has been well received by residents and staff, and is the recipient of numerous design awards including a 2014 RIBA National Award and the Richard Feilden Award at the 2013 Housing Design Awards.

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