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POW Architects Silver End Courtyard.jpg




01  /   06   /   2016

We were approached by our client who had purchased a site in the Modernist model village of Silver End. The site had previously been granted permission for 12 units in a traditional dead end cul-de-sac. The permission had expired so we were tasked with increasing the density and gaining planning permission for the new scheme. 

​The site, a disused car park (in blue above), served the Crittal window factory within the Model Village created in 1930’s by Francis Henry Crittall in Silver End, Essex. Above we have shown our analysis of the growth of the village from a small Hamlet in the 1920s to a thriving industrial and social enterprise in the 1970s and back to a commuter villiage for Braintree and Witham


It was created to house the workers of the factory and was a Utopian vision, much like the Bournville model village in Birmingham. Its unique Modernist International style led it to be listed as a Conservation area.


Which led us to explore a contextual response to the original modernist designs. ​Please see the gallery below which gives examples of how the original house designs had matured over the ensuing years.

Through a thorough and detailed site analysis and concept design we identified that the site would suit a central square with the houses distributed around the edge of the site.


This configuration allowed a higher density on the site but we needed to prove this to allow the planners to be able to justify their support for the scheme. This led us to look further into the whole village to see if this configuration existed elsewhere and supported our proposals. 

We identified three courts off Valentines Way, Bristol, Leicester and Stratford Courts with the same density to our proposal. 

Once we had established the principle of a square would work we then started to look more into the detailed design of the houses themselves.


One point that the village had not considered when it was designed was the impact of the car and need to house them, so we incorporated car ports in the design of our houses which meant only visitors needed to park in the square which would allow it to be used by the residents for other activities. 

Early concept computer models of the square are shown below, the modelling technique in this instance lends itself well to the existing context. 

At this point we also started to consider a robust material palette that would suit both the planners and the client wanting to build out the scheme. 

The designs evolved to use the materials from the original 1920s designs, using painted brickwork on the ground floor and slapdash render on the first floor. Obviously Crittal style windows were used for their slim profile and to match the original designs.

After positive pre-application process we developed the detailed plans for each housetypes. A mix of 2, 3 and 4 bedroom homes were designed, primarily in either semi-detached or terraces, utilising vertical feature chimney to give visual interest and architectural quality to the homes. 

The individual homes are shown below, we had one eye on the next stage of the project when developing the houses and all external walls are to brick dimensions to allow a smoother transition to the next stage of the design. 

In total our designs allowed maximum use of the site with 16 new homes being approved for construction. So through intuitive and contextual design we had improved upon the initial planning approval by 4 units. 

Following the planning approval we co-ordinated a detailed tender pack for our client working with Civil and Structural engineers to finalise the design in readiness for construction. As we are experienced in delivering housing developments for larger clients we were able to bring this knowledge of products, details and building to the detailed design allowing a speedy and economical build out. A house type pack is shown below. 

So in short we took an existing planning approval, added 4 extra units, designed it economically in a unique context and provided a working drawing pack that was both robust and simple to build. A good job all round. 

Finally we are sharing some of the historical images we used to inform the design, understand the context and also for fun. Some may say the houses look bland, others may say they look bold and futuristic. What is certain is that pushing on 100 years since they were built the street still looks pretty good if you have a quick look on Street view and Silver street in particular looks great with mature trees. 

More links here

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