S54 were shortlisted for an architectural competition for a new development of a large site in the centre of the town of Houghton Regis in Bedfordshire. The brief was to create a high quality, mixed use, independent living scheme which would challenge people’s perception of how housing for older people is designed and the way it is procured and managed. Given its location the scheme was also intended to reinvigorate the town centre and positively contribute to the local economy, community and the wider environment.
The site is partly within a conservation area with a single listed building to be retained, it is bounded on the north side by a very busy road, to the east by a historic village green and to the north by remnants of the high street and the ancient village church.
We saw the development as an opportunity to create a new village street linking the church and the green. We planned the northern side of the site as a transitional area between the green and the town centre, having a traditional ‘open character’ with buildings set back from the street.
The new village street provides access to all the new accommodation which has been arranged in a series of ‘mansion blocks’ which in turn define the character of the open spaces. Each elevation is ‘active’ and all the external areas of the site contribute positively to a varied and exciting landscape.