A beautiful, almost exotic renovation of a former businessmen’s club in Alabama into a grand home on New York Times today. Read the article about how David Harlbut converted the 20,000 square foot Harmony Club into a residence, preserving the architectural features and personality of its past incarnation. The waterfront building was founded in 1909 as a businessmen’s club, then became the Elks Club in the 1930s.
Image by Robert Rausch for The New York Times
I read about this on Twitter – an architect in Hong Kong designed his small 344 square foot apartment into a multi-modal living space. Sliding walls and shelves create and remove room partitions and provide clever storage. I love the flexibility and adaptability of the design and I’d like to apply it for wider use – can a non-residential space be just as flexible? Office space by day, event or rehearsal space by night? I wonder how much maintenance the sliding walls require.
I’m participating in a free online place-making course offered by the Homes & Communities Agency. One of the case studies we looked at is Odhams Walk (have a look at this video). I’ve walked past it several times, but hadn’t looked up nor looked around the development.
Images from Academy for Sustainable Communities
Odhams Walk is a development of housing situated over retail premises in the heart of Central London, in Covent Garden. It features an unusual design for its time which allowed for a variety of types of flats, some with outdoor patios and gardens. Housing is connected by walkways and the arrangement of flats permits interaction with other residents, but also sufficient levels of privacy. The design also enables natural surveillance of the estate. Security was further improved with additional lighting in the corridors and CCTV was installed.
The estate is managed by an ALMO, an arm’s length management organisation, with a Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) on-site. Having direct management on-site helps ensure that residents needs are met and the estate is well maintained. The TMO also helps manage any issues that may arise in the relationship amongst the shop-owners on the ground floor and the residents (for example, due to hours kept by the shops, noise, buskers in the neighbourhood).
Fifty percent of the original development became home to people from the local area with a housing need. After right-to-buy was introduced, many residents purchased their homes and some are now sublet. A careful mix of residents is needed because not all sub-tenants may have the same connection to and interest in the local community.
Good design, effective management, and consistent community help make Odhams Walk a sustainable community. Its creation was community-led from the start, generations are able to live and sustain there, residents feel safe, and they take an interest in their neighbours and their own neighbourhood. These aspects of good practice should be remembered and built upon when considering the future sustainable communities.