SUSSEX VILLAGE CENTREAUG 2016East Sussex
A planning application for a village square in the South Downs - In 2015 we were asked by the family and trustees of the Firle Estate to study the development possibilities for Berwick Station village. Their brief asked for fresh thinking and inventive design using a traditional south downs architecture.
We helped the estate articulate a vision for the village extension that accords with the formation and growth of their surrounding downland villages. This vision was recorded using 10 design principles for Berwick. These were issued to local architect Jim Richardson as a development brief for 33 houses, 3 shops and 2 offices, a gravel square and community photovoltaic panel system.
Our role has been to collaborate with Richardson Architecture to establish a general arrangement plan for the Firle Estate and to critique and adjust the detailed designs to help the proposal have a unique quality. The proposed design was generated by analysing key thresholds and interactions which give successful villages their social and architectural character. The scheme constitutes an infill of the existing residential strip north of Berwick Station, providing a new village edge, a new village centre, and additional services. To achieve these aims fresh thinking about rural housing in the 21st century was required: questioning cultural attitudes to rural living, the constitution of rural communities and the means by which they realise their sense of belonging in a landscape.