Groves-Raines Architects

The Vertical Challenge


The proposal centres on the concept of designing a pragmatic solution to providing sustainable housing for families whist echoing the form of the natural landscape, tying the aesthetics in with the proposal’s sustainable goals.

With the key aim of creating as small an impact on the landscape as possible, the proposal has been designed to sit atop columns. By doing so, the amount of earth removed could be minimised and the difficulties inherent in building on a rocky site are simplified. A further advantage of raising the building on columns is the adaptable nature of their depth; allowing the buildings to be sited on varying land, regardless of gradients or ground types that might be expensive and difficult with other foundation types. Once the building is in-situ the columns will be clad to match the rest of the proposal and cut to follow the form of the landscape, rooting it within its context. If necessary, this space could also form an under-croft for the storage of tools and other materials used in ‘Urban Farming’ in the adjoined garden space.

In terms of the construction material of the dwellings, it is proposed that timber be used to as great an extent as possible in the bearing structure and the building’s cladding. By using timber as a building material, we believe that this would aline with the ethos of contemporary Nordic architecture in aesthetics and sustainability. We propose a structural system based around Cross Laminated Timber that has many benefits relevant to such a project including its renewable credentials, relatively low weight which reduces the need for large foundations, quick onsite erection times and reduced thermal bridging.

The communal garden areas, marked by enclosure, has been situated and oriented such that it avoids direct and often harsh winds from the north along with maximising the available sunlight. It is sized so that it would be sufficient for five families to carry out ‘Urban Farming’, encouraging and promoting the continuation of this Faroese tradition.

The new road proposed for access to the development has been sited to run with the existing contours of the landscape as a means to avoid any future scarring of the hillside and minimise removal of existing earth for its creation. In order to discourage the new road from becoming a thoroughfare, it is proposed that access to the properties would happen via both the north and south side of the site to reach the properties located respectively, with a break of the road in-between where it becomes an unsurfaced track. This unsurfaced section would also remove the need for additional land excavation, where the road would have otherwise run perpendicular to the natural contours of the landscape.

As suggested in the brief, the project is to be phased in its construction. The scheme would split the project into four phases, each containing two housing units, one wind turbine, one ground source heat pump and an ‘Urban Farm’ and sufficient parking located within the property itself. The combination of the wind turbine and ground source heat pump is expected to be capable of providing enough energy for two units. It is hoped that during the settling of each phase a community would be formed around these shared ‘urban farming’ spaces. We have also attempted to ensure the building’s design offers plenty of private space whilst having enough chances for meeting and observing to foster a connection between the residents.

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