Built on what was formerly a disused garage-site and then dumping ground in Eastbourne, East Sussex, Chandler’s Mews maximises the potential of a challenging site whilst demonstrating that holistic sustainable design plays an important role in the development of low-cost housing in the UK. The ambition of this environmentally sensitive design has been embraced and celebrated by the local community and sustainable relationships with both neighbouring homes and the natural environment have been established.
LRA considered not only the physical outcome of the scheme, but the social, cultural and ecological relationships that are so crucial to sustainable development. The bold yet uncomplicated-form of the design is its defining feature; the curved sedum roofs soften the impact on the northerly neighbours whilst contrasting with the crisp-white-rendered walls, evoking imagery of Sussex’s chalk cliffs and the rolling green hills characteristic of the South Downs.
Though the site is relatively compact, the five homes have ample space for external amenities and are surprisingly spacious inside (90 sq m) allowing for flexible and adaptable living. With integrated solar technology (water heating), Sedum roofs (water retention, Oxygen production / Carbon Dioxide reduction and micro-habitat creation), super-insulated sustainably-sourced timber frames, recyclable aluminium facade components and windows, this 'first Eco-development for Eastbourne’ has been lauded by an initially reticent local authority; the favoured response being a ‘tried and tested’ approach; one bungalow on the site was their suggestion.
LRA’s response was to consult widely and compose a completely contextual design, sensitive to the surrounding conditions whilst tackling the (perceived) negative effects that high-density development can have. Conceived as low cost (achieving £1,200 per sq m) the practice worked with a local builder / developer to achieve an intelligent solution, representing the best of innovative and commercially (through a recession) viable and sustainable design.