The Trilogy site sits in Gateshead, having close connections to the city centre and access to the metro. Trilogy is a new brownfield site that replaces the green fields, that occupied the site beforehand. The homes are built to a high standard, however, the opposite can be said for the public realm and the landscape. They have been squashed and compacted together, creating narrow pavements and an area dominated by parking.
The architectural style compliments the existing character through a contemporary fashion, whilst achieving a high energy efficiency. There are numerous external home features including, hidden bin and bike storage for less exposure. The Building of Life 12 (BFL) assessment is explained in further detail below.
Integrating into the neighbourhood
To assess the ability of neighbourhood integration, we need look at:
Connections – Existing connections are clear and they integrate with the topography of the site. However, the roads leading towards the private gardens are not properly defined into public or private access. Trilogy respects existing buildings as they do not interfere with the character or setting of the wider area.
Facilities and Services – Trilogy sits close to local shops and transport. However, employment opportunities are further away, schools and workplaces are within a 20 minutes walks and has a sharp incline hill sits west of the site. This could deter people who may struggle to walk.
Public Transport – There is one key bus stop outside the site, to the metro and the city centre, this is heavily relied on but is frequent every 10 minutes. Also Trilogy does promote car use, as other forms of sustainable transport would take longer to reach the city centre.
Meeting local housing requirements – House prices range from £160,000 to £240,000. A percentage of this is dedicated for social housing. Housing typologies are limited to two storey 4-5 bedroom units, and 10 units accommodating a higher density at three storeys.
Picture of Armstrong Rd, with a row of two storey units with parking at the front of the houses.
Creating a place
To assess the ability of place creation, we need look at:
Character – The building materials are red brick, which are also found on the surroundings buildings. Trilogy has adopted the materials with a contemporary style that does not harm the character.
Working with the site and its context – Trilogy’s topography presents clear view corridors to the east. The site orientation integrates with the existing area, and includes of SUDS in case of run off, whilst it integrates bird houses and feeders for wildlife.
Creating well defined streets and spaces – Homes are designed in a straight-lined layout, and face inwards to the private garden, while the roads are angled slightly for parking to prevent speeding. Houses at the edge are not designed to turn corners, Armstrong Rd includes parking there, obscuring the view but also access to the next street.
Easy to find your way around – Trilogy is small, but the buildings character, tries to identify where you are. Although some streets (Brunel St + Macaham St) look identical in their layout, the topography helps lead back to Saltwell Rd.
Picture of Armstrong Rd facing eastward, illustrating the different housing typology and the building layout which integrates with the topography
Streets and Homes
To assess the public realm and homes, we need look at:
Streets for all – For example Armstrong Rd uses natural features, adding curves in the road, helping slow down vehicle movement. Pavement size is around 1m, which is not enough space for regular public movement and social interaction.
Car Parking – The parking ratio is less than 1:1, this leaves other residents to park on Saltwell Rd instead. In addition, there is no visitor parking available. The parking does dominate the street being placed in front of the pavement.
Public and private spaces – Spaces between the garden entrances and roads are not clearly defined as public or private. The main difference on the masterplan, is a lot of trees and green space. As they do not exist on the ground, this makes the parking even more visible.
Linden Homes masterplan of Trilogy, illustrating the exaggeration of green space which is not there on the site currently
External storage and amenity space – There are both adequate and concealed bins and cycle storage for every house. These are present at the front of each house and gated from the public.
Tally of the green, amber and red BFL score
Urban Design Principles
I am looking at Urban Designers and their design theories, which throughout our degree have been implemented into our schemes. I’m using them here to demonstrate how some of their design principles, hold up to Trilogy.
Jane Jacobs: Plenty of natural surveillance during day and night, is achieved with 360 views into the private garden. However, the fences have been raised in order to prevent people from peering into others windows.
Kevin Lynch: Many of Trilogy’s features lack any landmarks or distinctive nodes that help the guide people through the site.
Room for improvement
The BFL toolkit can be improved. In some schemes, the assessment of sustainability is missing. This includes an energy efficiency schemes, such as combined heat and power or renewable energy. Furthermore, there is no mention active and inactive lifestyles criteria, in the built environment which is more important today, mentioned in my previous blog.