Diversity of a Different Kind

This year we’ve been collaborating on several large projects with other architects firms. Here’s why…

Many of you will be familiar with Port Sunlight in Merseyside, created by the Lever Brothers, purveyors of the famous Sunlight soap after which the village is named.  Port Sunlight was built around the turn of the 20th century as workers’ housing and currently contains over 900 Grade II listed buildings.  It’s appreciated far beyond our shores and is studied by many with an interest in architecture.  Even today, Port Sunlight works extremely well as a housing development and one of the reasons for this is the diversity of housing.

Port Sunlight employed the skills of no less than five different architects and each block of housing is designed by a different one, thus avoiding a slide into the tedious and uninspiring uniformity that is so often the hallmark of more modern developments.  Each corner you turn in Port Sunlight brings another revelation of delight.  Diversity of design brings character- and character is a highly marketable commodity.  Character isn’t just about age, it’s about the beauty and visual complexity that people instinctively register as satisfying. 

Using different architects for a single scheme can lift the whole project and create something unique and desirable.  This is a win-win situation- the developer creates a housing scheme that is guaranteed to be a cut above the usual run of the mill layout, which will draw people to it, whilst the community benefits from living in and around an area that is pleasing to them, thus creating positive associations. 

The eye rolling apathy that the average development inspires in the population could easily be a thing of the past, given a little bold imagination in how we go about creating them.  Even though modern housing developments must, of necessity, be more dense, use contemporary materials and be modern in design, they can still be gems of skill and artistry.  In an age where the drive for sustainability means that legacy and longevity will become crucial commodities, it’s a good place to set the bar and could give the edge to those developers who have the vision to make it happen.