Monday, December 01, 2008

Housing, tradition and innovation

click photo to enlarge
The current economic recession has put a damper on the UK housing market, and not before time. Prices were grossly inflated, and people had begun to see houses firstly as investments and only secondly as somewhere to live. But it's not that aspect of housing that concerns me here. Rather, it's the nature of the homes to which many aspire.

It seems to me that the British are infatuated with old houses. Original thatched cottages, stone-built eighteenth century terraces, half-timbered dwellings, Victorian villas, converted barns - all are seen as so desirable that in recent years new versions of these traditional forms have been erected across the country to meet the demand. Sad, but true! And where more obviously modern houses have been erected, too often these have been tricked out with tile-hanging, roof cresting, faux timber, artisan-mannerist brickwork, or other decorative additions to give a hint of the past to the structure. Modern mass-market housing that lacks these embellishments and that unashamedly proclaims its date as the early twenty-first century is regrettably difficult to find, and generally only exists in cities and at the top of the price scale in architect-designed individual buildings.

However, now and again, an enterprising developer tries something different. These houses at Bicker, Lincolnshire, were designed in the UK and manufactured in Sweden. They are a system-built, modular, low-energy design. As far as the UK goes they are quite innovative in terms of their wooden frame and the energy requirements (though these elements are becoming more common). However, they are very innovative in terms of colour, especially in a rural location! Most UK housing is brick coloured. White or cream render is found, and the occasional maverick individual uses a brighter colour. Sometimes very old buildings display a range of tints. It's not common, however, to find a group of new buildings displaying colours such as these. Some don't like it, but I'd like to see more bright, bold new designs being erected - buildings for today that are of today!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 150mm (300mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/800
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On