RUFFARCHITECTS were appointed by Oakford Development to design a masterplan for 55 new homes in East Sussex. The site is located on the Southern edge of East Hoathly, a small village which is characterised by various cottage and farmyard typologies in a Conservation Area. The land is a gently sloping field that is currently being used as farmland, notably its boundaries are defined by mature woodlands to its North and East. The scheme seeks to knit into the local community by creating links to the existing green infrastructure. Through public consultations and focused engagement, the design team has developed a close working relationship with the local residents.
The clients and the design team held high sustainability aspirations for the project and were determined in delivering highly energy efficient new homes. A mixture of passive and active measures was introduced, with an efficient fabric and airtight envelope achieving A-rated homes and reducing the energy demand all year round, and rooftop PV panels provide renewable energy to all households. the client is also looking to submit a parallel application for an onsite solar farm with the potential to deliver 100% on-site renewable energy for the scheme, including a green electrical tariff. Air source heat pumps are paired with grey water recycling and low energy use homes as well as electrical charging and a fabric first approach.
From the onset of the project, the team had a vision to design a ‘place-led’ masterplan that allows communities to thrive and foster. One of the key masterplan moves is the introduction of the ‘Green Fingers’, two open green parks that gesture to bringing the landscape into the heart of the site. These communal parks create outlooks to nature for the new homes and provide areas of distinct character, including soft landscape for natural play, spaces for gathering and areas for food production. The shared surface of road and pavement blurs the threshold and encourages the activation of the public spaces. Local concern of sewage and drainage issues are addressed by a series of SUDs strategies including wide swales, which are planted with a variety species along the estate roads; attenuation depressions become natural amphitheatres and boardwalks.
The project is consisted of 11 house types, with a mix of semi-detached houses, detached homes and maisonette apartments. Local and vernacular typologies in the villages were studied to inform the design of the new homes. Using a material palette made up of a range of light brickwork, timber cladding and red clay bricks, sourced locally from a brick factory within 15 miles from the site, the dwellings form a series of varied and colourful streetscapes that fit well as an extension to the existing village.