Glenwood Green, Belfast

This project was an open design competition run by Clanmil Developments to deliver 6 no high quality sustainable social housing units on a vacant brownfield site located in Poleglass, Belfast.

Collins Rolston architects’ winning concept was to create a contemporary housing development which draws material inspiration from the local context and makes a positive contribution to the character of the area. The strong, robust building form was designed to take account of the hard, urban grain that the houses sit within and the use of simple, well thought out brick detailing, which further draws on a ‘simple but solid’ theme.

The project is a hybrid between terraced and semi-detached typologies. Our team’s aim was to achieve the highest density possible while at the same time ensuring that space, separation and difference were incorporated through massing; the arrangement of the dwellings; the grouping of accesses and the expression of materials.

This project was located in an area of high anti-social behaviour and was designed in collaboration with the local community and PSNI to meet Secured by Design principals. The dwellings face onto the public road and overlook a community garden to provide passive surveillance to the adjacent area. The aim of this was to establish a sequence of public, semi-public and private open spaces and successfully create a sustainable, appealing and attractive community.

The internal environment of each dwelling was designed to ensure it would enhance the health and wellbeing of the residents with particular attention given to daylight and sunlight penetration, good air quality and ventilation to avoid overheating.

In particular the design was developed to meet Lifetime Homes standards and to provide an accessible, adaptable, inclusive, flexible, and sustainable development. This has resulted in a ‘house for life’ which will allow older people to remain in their own homes for longer, reduce the requirement for future home adaptations and provide greater choice to disabled/older people who cannot achieve independent living due to lack of suitable housing.
The buildings were constructed in load-bearing construction with red brick external walls, black roof tiles with hardwood windows and doors. We used a simple ’fabric first’ sustainability strategy which exceeded the Building Regulations through robust detailing, high levels of insulation, low u-values, low air permeability & A-rated plant/services.

Throughout the project the Client, Architect and Contractor engaged with the local community and offered opportunities for students, apprentices and local unemployed people to be actively involved in building these homes for their own community.

The scheme was delivered within budget while still providing a high quality of finish, detailing and environmental standards. Furthermore, it was nominated for the RSUA design awards as an example of how high standards of housing can be achieved within a limited budget by adopting a high-quality design led approach.