St Peters Mews is a cluster of 12 new houses for social rent in Ipswich, UK.
This project addresses issues of housing quality, where an emphasis on low-cost construction and an almost algorithmic lack of imagination have left many people living in deeply uninspiring and poor quality houses. The project uses efficiencies in offsite construction to meet budget constraints while significantly improving on health and wellbeing through the use of high-quality natural materials and rich spatial relationships.
Four double houses are loosely assembled around a central plaza with two additional double houses at the top of the site. The long narrow plot presents an opportunity to depart from the typical English house type by placing the stairs cross the plan, parallel to the facade. This change in order allows a clear division of public and private, where public rooms face out toward the plaza and private rooms to face back toward the garden.
The houses respond to, and extend, the tradition of Suffolk red brick construction, while updating the superstructure and foundation design with prefabricated massive timber frames elevated off the clay on screw piles. The significant reduction of concrete and the possibility of using reclaimed bricks, combined with the massive timber structure, give this project the potential to be climate positive when complete.
In contrast to the thin “product buildings” routinely delivered to the UK housing market, the durable brick skin and massive timber interior mean that these houses will easily last for hundreds of years to come.