Scottish Home Awards 2020 ‘Affordable Housing Development of the Year (social rent)’: St. Andrews Drive, Pollokshields – Phase 1
The development is the first phase in a major redevelopment of this important Glasgow neighbourhood. This involves the demolition of 272 substandard, unpopular, damp deck access properties built in the late 1960’s by Glasgow City Council and replacing them over three phases with modern, warm and energy efficient homes, designed to excellent standards by JM Architects. The design solution borrows from the villas that were originally on the site that were replaced by the unpopular Council housing in the 1960s and 70s, by constructing 6 unique blocks of modern apartments that match the foot print of the original Victorian villas. The new homes more closely match the complex needs of one of Scotland’s most diverse communities ensuring the development has a mixture of smaller and larger family housing.
The estate at St Andrews Drive in Pollokshields originally consisted of 272 deck access flats. The site originally housed a large, high density, deck access slab block development of 1960’s council housing. The development sits on the edge of the historic Pollokshields area of Glasgow which is predominantly comprised of large sandstone villas set on generous plots bounded by walls, mature hedging and tree lined streets and avenues.
Southside Housing Association (SHA) has worked alongside JM Architects and Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) in the neighbourhood since 2006. The properties were then transferred to SHA in 2011 as part of the Stock Transfer.
Although exceptionally well located, the properties presented particular difficulties in terms of housing mix, (unpopular 1 apartment flats and very small 4 bedroom flats). In addition the properties had poor internal layouts with all flats having internal stairs.
Dampness and cold bridging due to the form of construction and declining demand allowed SHA to recognise that simply improving the external fabric and internal upgrading of the properties would not address the fundamental design problems.
In addition the properties were unable to be adapted to meet current technical standards, with this in mind a Masterplan for wholesale demolition and replacement new build was approved for the estate by both Glasgow City Council and Southside Housing Association’s Management Committee in 2015.
Phase 1 of the development forms part of the wider masterplan for the St John’s Quadrant/St Andrew’s Drive area of Pollokshields. The brief for the Masterplan gave the opportunity for the removal of the existing blocks and a new plan to be put in place comprising of a series of ‘urban villas’ with a series of well-designed public and private spaces that refer to the historic grain of Pollokshields.
The content of the brief was simple; provide a mix of accommodation of 1, 2, 3 bedroom properties along with 4 bedroomed flats for larger families and wheelchair dwellings.The overall masterplan was created to guide the development principles for a total of 3 phases.
The new residential development provides 49 dwellings (36 for Social Rent) across six ‘urban villa’ apartment blocks set within a mature landscape setting enhanced by the retention of numerous mature trees.
The location and orientation of each individual block has been carefully considered to ensure that the design respects the existing trees and recognises their importance to the setting of the development and to the wider historic green context of Pollokshields.
The existing landscape has been complemented by the introduction of new trees and a wider planting scheme, developed by Rankin Fraser Landscape Architects, designed to create a mature, green park setting for the new tenants with the introduction of new trees, shrub planting and wild grass.
The ‘urban villas’ vary in scale from 1 to 4 storeys referencing the scale set by the surrounding historic fabric of Pollokshields, a neighbourhood of grand sandstone villas set on generous plots bounded by walls, mature hedging and tree- lined streets/avenues.
A mix of accommodation has been provided comprising of 1, 2 & 3 apartments, larger 4 & 5 bedroom flats, wheelchair accessible apartments and 3 & 4 bedroom main door maisonettes.
The flat typologies come together in a variety of arrangements to create interest and produce a composition that responds to the context and orientation creating a selection of elevational compositions that generate an interesting and layered street frontage. A simple restrained palette of a brick with cast stone detailing and timber cladding work together bring continuity and harmony across the development.
From the start the project sought to add value and innovate. The site was the historic location of the early Pollokshields villas which had been demolished to enable the development of a high density 6 storey deck access slab blocks of residential dwellings. This development was completely out of context within the character of the historic garden suburb of Pollokshields West Conservation Area. Key to the St Andrew’s Drive project was the development of a site wide masterplan strategy which healed the scar caused by the 1960’s development. Demolition of the existing buildings began in 2015 to enable the development of phase 1 which was competed in summer 2019.
As part of the planning and design process we discovered that the original villa plots were larger than the typical plots of the neighbourhood. These historic boundary lines started to inform a new grain for the site both in landscape and building locations. A grain that was more sympathetic to the historic context of Pollokshields West, lower in scale and density.
A key consideration in terms of design, local context, construction and the environment was the existence of numerous mature trees. These trees lined the streets bounding the site and had been planted in clusters within the green spaces that surrounded the 1960’s development. We therefore mapped the existing trees as the design developed. The importance of retaining as many trees as technically feasible was vital to the success of the development. The existence of mature trees provide visual landscaped amenity for residents and locals, creates an established setting for the new development enabling it to comfortably settle into the existing neighbourhood and enhances the biodiversity of the site. In addition, to the retention of existing trees, a landscape architect was employed to develop a designed landscape which included the planting of new native tree species, the design of shared resident’s gardens and a layer of boundary conditions to provide visual interest, a variety of plant species and a defensible boundary between public and private spaces.
As the design developed a series of ‘urban villa’ apartment block types were created. Due to the mix of tenure and dwelling size requirements of the local area the resultant design for Phase 1 required variety between the blocks in terms of layout, scale and massing. These provided a construction challenge which resulted in the development of a structural steel frame design which enabled the bespoke nature of each block while also providing the client with the ability to future proof the development by the creation of clear floor plates that would allow two smaller apartments to be linked and reconfigured to create one larger apartment should the future need arise. The variation in layout, scale and massing further developed the design relationship between the new development and the surrounding historic context as no two villas within the Pollokshields West area are the same.
As the design developed a series of consultations took place with Glasgow City Council Planning/Roads departments and with the local community. A number of events were held to obtain feedback from the community with the project being welcomed as a positive intervention with the provision of much needed quality homes.
On specific point that was highlighted as an important community item was the desire to see the incorporation of an existing artwork piece that had previously been erected on the existing 1960’s buildings. We worked with the community to refurbish and relocate this important illuminated artwork – an important legacy of previous community initiatives.
The development of the new masterplan did have budget considerations which would not always be present on a typical social housing project. Creating new streets to define the masterplan required the construction of new adoptable roads together with new surface water and sewer drainage lines. This is a budgetary cost that is not typical when developing serviced sites accessed off an existing street. These non-typical costs required careful consideration of other items to try and strike a balance to ensure that technical requirements did not impact on the overall quality of the development.
Time was taken to establish a restrained palette of materials, a cost effective, but quality, facing brick that had character and respected the existing material tones of the surrounding sandstone villas together with simple feature cast stone element to window heads. These cast stone feature elements were detailed to ensure that simple off-the-shelf lintel arrangements could be adopted to avoid the need for bespoke solution. Localised areas of larch cladding were included to line the recessed balconies and bring a softer element to the material mix. A restricted number of window types was developed to ensure continuity between the blocks while also limiting the extent of variation from a manufacturing/cost side.
Despite, the best endeavours of the team, as with many projects, a value engineering task was required. This focused on targeting savings in areas that would not reduce the quality of the architecture, the dwellings or the landscape environment. The structure was reviewed in terms of steel design and weight, foundation designs were reviewed, lintel designs and balcony structures were simplified, alternative product specifications were reviewed for hard landscaping elements that achieved saving without compromising on quality or finish. As such, savings were achieved without the need to change the brickwork, the precast detailing or the windows.
In terms of the construction process there were not any particular challenges as the Client, the Design Team, the main contractor and their sub-contractors all worked together to develop a productive delivery team with regular site visits, technical meetings and progress meetings. The benefits of the site location meant that the Design Team could attend site at short notice when require to ensure that items were dealt with expediently.
In terms of energy efficiency the development has adopted the following measures:
- The building fabric has been enhanced with higher levels of insulation.
- Triple glazed windows/doors have been installed with an enhanced u-value performance.
- Gas boiler with a 90% Sedbuk seasonal efficiency rating has been installed.
- Low carbon dMEV mechanical extract fans have been installed.
- Dedicated low energy light fittings have been installed throughout all dwellings.
- All external lights are low energy LED fittings.
- A minimum energy performance level of B was achieved to all dwellings.
- A minimum Bronze level of sustainability was achieved to all properties with approximately 50% achieve a Silver Level for the category ‘Energy for thermal Comfort’.
- A dedicated electric car charging station has been installed providing charging facilities for two electric cars.
Materials have been specified with reference to the Green Guide to minimise their environmental impact.
As a community controlled housing association committed to local service delivery these new community assets will be maintained and managed for the long term.
Local Housing Officers will deliver easy accessible services to the local community. In addition the Association is committed to the long term sustainability of tenants with a comprehensive wrap round benefits and advice service. Critical to the sustainability of the development is a responsive repair and maintenance service that delivers excellent day to day repairs on demand but also has cyclical and life cycle replacement programmes.
In addition the Association has its own in-house facilities management team which provides a weekly programme of services to the common areas of the buildings, the gardens and grounds, bin store areas and general neighbourhood.
The new residential development provides 49 dwellings 36 for Social Rent and 13 for New Supply Shared Equity.
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“I was very pleased at how quick the repair was fixed and what a nice lad that fixed it!”
Resident of St Andrews Crescent