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Housing as City Making - The Big House - Cohousing twenty families in Islington

Part 1 Project 2014
Daniel Marshall
University of Cambridge Cambridge UK
Central London lacks housing for Families. Rather than buying units built by a developer, ‘The Big House’ considers what a group of twenty families pooling resources as a co-housing group might be able to build for themselves. To address this issue of families living together in a dense city, the project considered two typologies: London’s Medieval Livery Companies and The Florentine Palazzo.

The Medieval Livery Companies of the City of London provide a precedent for the economic and social benefits gained by acting collectively. Sharing allowed for access to resources and networks that empowered individuals beyond the everyday city life. The mature Livery Companies built complexes out the back of their own back yards, which provided spaces for formal dining and conversation with others. The culture of co-operation forwarded the individual’s professional pursuits within the city … . Like the livery company organization, ‘The Big House' gives each unit it’s own private door onto the street, and also a back door into a shared piece of city; offering communal workshops, a shared office, and roof gardens.

Secondly, the scheme explores poetic distinction between inside and outside, as observed in The Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni. Outside, the palazzo presents itself as a civic building harmonious with the surrounding cityscape. Inside it creates a space for intimate family life regulated by the specific atmosphere and character that the building generates. Whilst ‘The Big House’ attempts to re-invoke the civic qualities of a palazzo from the street, the cohabitants discover through the back door of the dwellings, a communal space with a medieval sense of negotiation.

By massing larger family units at the bottom and smaller family units on top ‘The Big House’ is able to create a walkway around the internal courtyard. This walkway allows each unit to have equal access to the internal shared resources via the living rooms. The living rooms themselves look out into the courtyard; a view framed by panoramic bay windows. These windows endeavour to allow dwellers sitting on the sofa to subtly feel as if they both within the private home and yet also within a larger big house.

Daniel Marshall

Tutor(s)


2014
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