Grödians, [a Special Mention for the RIAS/Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award 2011], is a new-build social housing development comprising a mix of 1, 3 and 4 bedroom dwellings in flatted, semi detached and detached housing. It is the most recent of a staged housing development in the outskirts of Lerwick.
Architect: Richard Gibson Architects Ltd
Location: Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland
Client: Hjaltland Housing Association Ltd
Contractor: E&H Building Contractors Ltd
Quantity Surveyor: John Duguid Partnership
Structural Engineer: Mott Macdonald Ltd
CDM Coordinator: Michael Thomson Surveyor
Photographs: Phatsheep Photography and Richard Gibson Architects
DESIGN – The quality and principles of the design, as well as the high standard of the finish have set new benchmarks for the provision of housing in Shetland. As can be seen from distant and close contextual observation, Grödians has a strong identity within itself but also relates well and respects its neighbouring scale and boundaries. It provides a large part of the civic centre of Quoys and the neighbouring areas. Houses are orientated towards the street for improved access and security observation. Large windows to living areas provide good morning and afternoon light & sun. The houses were positioned closely to create shelter for habitants and to encourage tree and shrub growth for added shelter, reducing wind chill of houses and heating demand. A gavel frontage approach brings visual interest within the streets and makes reference to Lerwick’s distinct town centre gavel frontages. A distinct external colour palette was used to maintain a cheerful vibrancy from within and outwith the scheme particularly during the dark winter months, while complimenting Shetland’s natural colours.
ACCESSIBILITY & SPACE STANDARDS – All but six dwellings have fully compliant access throughout. Street gradients are virtually level with the link road being slightly steeper. The entire development is connected by foot path access on three corners of the site with wheel chair access to the majority of the development. Children can play in the street or the central green space with good overlooking provision from most kitchen or living rooms. Houses fully comply with Varying Needs, Secure By Design and Building Standards requirements for space, security and accessibility as required by the Client.
ENERGY & SUSTAINABILITY – Grödians exceeded P.A.N. 84 requirement to be 15% above the Building Standards’ baseline in terms of Energy and Carbon use. Air tightness testing has proved the houses are well above the housing standard. The development is served by the Lerwick district heating scheme, providing heat from incinerating rubbish. Open plan living areas provide flexibility in layout and can adapt as families grow. Ground level WCs can easily be adapted to form level access showers without reducing the WC size. People can live in these houses for the longer term, without having to move to/ build a new larger house. Although car use is prevalent on our island, parking is minimised by use of communal parking but will be sufficient should private ownership take over, negating the need for construction of extra spaces. The site is well serviced with a bus lay-by, local church, community facilities and a children’s play area with two grassed open play spaces on site. Three specially constructed recycle areas are situated within Grödians allowing residents to dispose of glass, tins, paper and plastic in separate containers. Excavated rock was reused extensively to construct stone retaining walls within the scheme. Timber kit construction was used as a sustainable, fast and familiar method in the harsh Shetland climate. Four of the five design consultants, contractor and sub contractors were local to Shetland which sustains local employment and maintains the high standard of the local skill base. It also minimises transportation and travel e.g. Carbon emissions to within the isles.
ROADS & UTILITIES – Based on the Homezone streets concept: makes for safer, more accessible environment for pedestrians to use with 15mph speed limit. Considered planter designs incorporated into road layout as visual & physical obstacles. Varied use of surface materials also bring visual richness and interest. All roads and utilities designed to higher adoptable standards of local authorities and utility providers.
OTHER COMMENTS – Initial tenant feedback to the Client has been very positive in terms of the design, layout and finish. Local councillors and MSP Tavish Scott have also commented on the high quality of Grödians. By providing over 100 local people with a home in their own area, it reduces unwanted relocation outwith Shetland. The Homezone aspect of Grödians is intended to cultivate more community interaction between residents. It has also allowed the local authority to provide a new children’s accommodation building in a “normal” setting within Grödians. Predominantly detached housing is favoured by residents and the client due to increased sense of ownership and reduced noise pollution between dwellings. The connection to, and support of the local district heating scheme benefits the residents of Grödians and the wider community of Shetland both economically and environmentally. Communal recycling points encourage environmental awareness and responsibility. By incorporating features such as heat recovery systems, underfloor heating, air tight & well designed and constructed houses, economic and environmental benefits are brought to the residents at Grödians, Hjaltland Housing Association and the wider community of Shetland on many levels.
Richard Gibson Architects Ltd retain copyright on all photo images, drawings and text forming part of this submission.