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Somerton Community Housing

A view of an external shared deck. The depth allows it to also be used as an additional living space.
Project: Somerton Community Housing

Project facts

Client: Private
Location: Somerton, Somerset
Size: 1500m²

Project description

Kirkham Street Fields is a sparse open space in a small town in south Somerset that became disused when the neighbouring primary school relocated. Our brief was to develop designs for a radically different community housing type on the land to free up most of it to be given back to the community.

The project is a partnership with an active local community association, The Kirkham Street Trust, who have been campaigning to save the field.

Our early designs propose two U-shaped housing blocks containing a mix of studio, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments that are arranged around shared gardens. We have developed a series of design principles that illustrate the key qualities of the proposed scheme, including the Common Room, a flexible space shared by all residents as well as oversized circulation that can be used much as you would a living room, park bench or balcony.

We are working with development advisors ‘For The Common Good’ and are proposing to co-design both the community housing and park with locals and end users.

Our clients Anna Anderson and Sam Hampson said: ‘We approached Studioshaw with nothing but a seed of an idea and some big ‘what ifs’. They were able to instantly understand what we wanted to achieve, and fleshed out the idea in record time into something tangible, and incredibly exciting. We needed to persuade the local community of the benefits of our scheme, and Studioshaw took this into their stride, conducting extensive research, leading viability exercises and creating beautiful images to bring the idea to life.

Our project requires rigorous exploration in planning, financial viability, and relationship building at both community and local government level. Studioshaw have approached the project holistically, beyond just the design aspects, and as such have helped us build a strong team of professionals who have already proven to be crucial to the process. We’re still in early stages of the project, but we couldn’t be happier to have chosen to work with Studioshaw. They’re a small, but bold firm, and everyone there is an absolute pleasure to work with’.

Project images

A view of the shared gardens. The ground floor is set back behind a colonnade, creating a sheltered space for residents to occupy.
A view of the Common Room. This is a flexible shared space used by all residents.
An aerial sketch of the proposal. The park will be landscaped and given back to the community.
The bedrooms are constructed using timber frames and have large windows, access to a private balcony and generous floor to ceiling heights... and pets are allowed.