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Friday25 July 2014

FIRST LOOK

First look: Stable yards provide inspiration for ARU’s Lambourn housing

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The Architectural Research Unit (ARU) has unveiled plans for 43 houses on the edge of Lambourn, west Berkshire, for Crispin Kelly’s Baylight Properties, with associate Matt Barton

The scheme takes inspiration from the town’s many stable yards, with terraces of mixed family housing forming three loosely defined courtyards, each framing a different kind of “shared space” within – a concept used by Kelly to encourage residents to take ownership of the public realm.

Three-storey houses, rendered in pale colours, surround an orchard, while a gently sloping two-storey brick terrace borders a bed of vegetable patches in the heart of the scheme. A row of courtyard houses frames a small green at the end of the site, where a water meadow slopes down to the river.

“We wanted to form a strong edge to the town,” explains ARU director Florian Beigel, describing how the bookend form of the development was inspired by the French bastide town of Monpazier, which his students at London Metropolitan University studied last year.

The varied articulation of the different house types reveals a studied abstraction of historic precedents – from Bordeaux townhouses to the yards of Beaujolais – with tall windows indicating a piano nobile on the terraces’ first floor, and subtle modulation forming what Beigel describes as “little facades within facades”.

The units are generously scaled, ranging from 90 to 160sq m, and each has its own private garden and separate front door, while parking is housed between the courtyards in timber barn structures.

“Barns are often converted from their agricultural use to domestic use,” says ARU partner Philip Christou. “Perhaps, one day, this might be the other way around.”

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