This cheery and vibrant social housing project in Lerwick is located on the idyllic coastline of the Shetland Islands in Scotland. Designed by Richard Gibson Architects, Grödians consists of 34 single family homes all designed to fit in with the traditional architecture of the surrounding town, but improve upon it dramatically with energy efficient design. Pedestrian-friendly design, natural daylighting, a high standard of energy efficiency and the use of district heating all combine to create a thoughtful and pleasant community. The bright exterior colors were chosen as a way to maintain a cheerful vibrancy especially during the dark winter months.
The project is made up of 34 new-build social houses for Hjaltland Housing Association and provide a variety of 1-4 bedroom dwellings. The houses are oriented towards the street to improve access and security, and are also positioned to create shelter and encourage the growth of trees and shrubs in hopes of reducing wind chill from the cold North Sea winds. The architecture references Lerwick’s distinct town centre gavel frontages. Gray, blue, red and purple exterior colors are vibrant and visually maintain a level of cheer even during the darker months, yet the colors also tie in with the surrounding town.
Design of the neighborhood is geared more towards pedestrians and walking paths connect the community together. Cars are not discouraged, but parking is minimized and set to the side in a communal area rather than at each home’s front. A local bus line stops next to the community and other amenities are located nearby for easy access. Three recycling centers provide convenient access to dispose of glass, tins, paper and plastic in separate containers. And excavated rock was reused extensively to construct stone retaining walls within the scheme.
The homes were constructed using timber kits, which was fast, sustainable and a familiar method in the area. Many of the contractors working on the project were locally based, which provided support of the local economy and reduced carbon emissions of travel and transport. The entire project was built 15% above the local standard’s baseline in terms of energy and carbon use. Air tightness was also above standard code, which ensures the homes loose minimal heat coming from the underfloor heating and heat recovery systems. Heat is provided by the Lerwick district heating scheme, which incinerates rubbish. The project was shortlisted for the RIAS Andrew Doolan ‘Best Building in Scotland’ award.
Images ©Phatsheep and Richard Gibson Architecture