When Adnams brewery relocated its distribution depot away from the centre of Southwold, it freed up a significant slice of land for redevelopment. Ash Sakula won the invited competition and was appointed architect for a two-phase project to create a shop and cafe for the brewery, followed by a development of mixed-tenure housing.
We immersed ourselves in the speciﬁc close-grained texture of this unspoilt seaside town: alleys and ginnels, little gardens packed with plants, unexpected views, interesting corners and peculiar juxtapositions. We opened up this once-impermeable industrial site and gave it back to the town by striking it through with small-scale passages, little green spaces and streets of attractive new homes.
Although it was not aimed specifically at older people, the housing is the epitome of a liveable, inter-generational neighbourhood. Every dwelling is different and all homes have access to outdoor space.
The scheme’s palette of materials and finishes draws on the precedents that we found in and around the town, to which we gave a contemporary edge. The buff brickwork is selectively finished with whitewash or black tar, according to maritime tradition. Roofs are pantiled, following the local vernacular, and brick chimneys are fully functional, housing vents. Low garden walls have decorative panels of traditional flintwork. Less traditional touches include windows which project forward from the facade, and oversized dormers giving character to the houses overlooking the green.
The organisation of the site defines a new public square around the brewery shop and cafe, while the north-east boundary relates strongly to a village green, which gives people a space in which to play, breathe and cross paths with neighbours. At the heart of the scheme, a taller flat-iron building punctuates the development. The homes overlooking the village green share a more consistent language but have pleasing deviations and subtle individualities, that straight away makes them part of the Southwold scene.
Architect: Ash Sakula
Client: Hopkins Homes
Planning Authority: Waveney District Council
Contractor: Hopkins Homes
Structural Engineer: Price & Myers
M+E Engineer: Michael Popper Associates
Cost Consultant: AppleyardsDWB
Schedule: 34 new homes (24 for sale, 10 affordable)
Planning approved: March 2008
2012 Housing Design Awards for Completed Scheme
2011 What House? Gold Award for Best Brownfield Development
2008 Housing Design Awards for Best Project
Meets or exceeds requirements of DDA
All houses fitted with mechanical ventilation with heat recovery
All houses provided with cycle storage