North Lane, Aldershot
North Lane in Aldershot, located on the town’s fringe and tightly enclosed by a railway embankment and an A road does not offer an obvious advantage of aspect, orientation or other underexploited inspirational site feature.
What unlocks its potential is the interplay between the individual homes, their individual relationship their immediate setting, but most revealingly is the value of the combined landscape and how residents can engage with each other across and in this versatile space. Creating this space is a function of positioning of the buildings on plan, however optimising this hard working space is realised through the choice of materials, manipulation of levels and downplaying of reluctantly accommodating vehicles.
There are areas of grass for soft play punctuated with trees and framed by limited strips of hard paving leading up to front doors. A self binding gravel is used across the rest of the plan, suitable for vehicle access and parking, all of which is drained using an extensive network of bio swales and soak aways, with minimum connections back to the surface water mains. The combined effect of this landscape is park like, within which houses have been carefully sited and well behaved, self conscious motorists occasionally pass through to access their homes.
“A serious attempt to encourage a sense of community in a suburban housing development; very serious indeed, in fact.” Rowan Moore: the best architecture of 2015.