Forest Village #9: Show Me The Money

So far Forest Village is hypothetical, a thought-experiment; but after thinking about it for so long it was hard to stop. Could a Forest Village really be built? Technically speaking, yes it could – Center Parcs had demonstrated that – but it would certainly be more expensive to build than a normal housing estate. Center Parcs covers the capital and revenue costs of creating such a special environment with the income generated from a finely tuned holiday and leisure operation. Forest Village would have to pay for itself off residential values. Continue reading

Posted in Architecture/Design, Development/Land-Use | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forest Village #8: What’s the Catch?

So far, Forest Village is the product of an end-of-holiday moment of wistfulness: ‘This is lovely; wouldn’t it be nice to live here all the time?’ But like all such pipe-dreams, it’s worth taking a minute to be critical. It was clear to me what the attractive qualities of Forest Village would be, but what barriers would it have to overcome if it were to move from ‘one-liner’ to reality? Continue reading

Posted in Architecture/Design, Development/Land-Use | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forest Village #7: The ‘Suburbs’

In the last post we imagined re-developing Elveden Center Parcs’ central area to serve as a new centre for our imaginary Forest Village, but the real essence of Center Parcs (and in turn Forest Village) lies away from the centre: the ‘villas in the forest’. Preserving the character of this forest ‘suburb’ is essential in our hypothetical retro-fit. What do we have to work with? Continue reading

Posted in Architecture/Design, Development/Land-Use | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forest Village #6: The Village Centre

What would one have to do to Center Parcs Elveden to turn it into a ‘real’ village? Well for the purposes of this thought-experiment the aim would be to change as little as possible, preserving the essential quality which could make it such an attractive and unusual place to live. Continue reading

Posted in Architecture/Design, Development/Land-Use | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Forest Village #5: Sustainable Development?

As a model for the development of a new settlement, Center Parcs offers a really powerful proposition. Most green-field development replaces green-space with houses. In a Center Parcs they depend on each other. The forest is regarded as an asset to the finished site, so great care is taken to protect and enhance it during development. Continue reading

Posted in Architecture/Design, Development/Land-Use | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forest Village #4: The Reality

So we had imagined (previous post) a medium-density self-sustaining new settlement, planned for pedestrians and bicycles, in which residents could live surrounded by the trees, plants and wildlife of their own forest, which the process of development had not only retained but actually improved. Could a place like that really exist? Well, it already does… Continue reading

Posted in Architecture/Design, Development/Land-Use | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Forest Village #3: The Concept

When the Forest Village concept was set out on paper, the accepted ideal minimum size for a new settlement or urban extension was around 2,000-3,000 homes – large enough to sustain a useful hub of local services, including a primary school and some local shops. The Labour government’s ‘Eco-Towns’ programme which followed a year or so later raised the bar to a minimum of 5,000 homes – enough to support a secondary school and some employment space – but for Forest Village the target size remained around 2,000 new homes. Continue reading

Posted in Architecture/Design, Development/Land-Use | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forest Village #2: Houses and Trees

I will explain the real origin of Forest Village later, but I was prompted to write it down after reading another think-piece about houses and trees, by Mischa Balen, then of the Adam Smith Institute. The article ran in Planning in London Magazine and put forward a neat bit of lateral thinking about how to build lots of houses in the countryside without ‘concreting it over’. Continue reading

Posted in Architecture/Design, Development/Land-Use | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forest Village #1: Background

The publication of the final report of the Independent Panel on Forestry earlier this year reminded me of a ‘think-piece’ about building in forests which I wrote way back in 2007, when I was a director at Conran&Partners. ‘Forest Village’ set out some ideas about large-scale housing development within existing or new forest, exploring issues of sustainability, lifestyle and development economics which the notion of building houses amongst trees threw up. Continue reading

Posted in Architecture/Design, Development/Land-Use | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Odds and Ends…

A nice exchange just now with Howard, planning a Part 2 dissertation on Rural Architecture – see Comment/Contact. This follows Rory Olcayto’s report in the AJ (previous post) about Rem Koolhaas taking an interest in matters rural, and I am getting a bit of a buzz around the rural theme again, after the summer’s hiatus. A few other odds and ends… Continue reading

Posted in Architecture/Design | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment