Good housing should be robust enough to cope with alteration

How many people – how many architects? – live in Georgian or Victorian houses? Plenty. Many of those houses are in conservation ares, and some are even listed. But even the listed ones will have been altered prior to achieving that status. If nothing else, they will have had bathrooms added, and probably the ubiquitous back extension. And the AJ has published tens, probably dozens, of glazed back extensions to create spacious kitchens on old properties.

So I found it hard to sympathise with the residents of the Stirling Prize winning Accordia scheme in Cambridge who have, says the AJ,  applied for Conservation Area status to prevent others living there from tinkering with the design. Somebody has put a cat flap in a window. Somebody else has stained a shed. Didn’t the fools know it’s not meant to be stained? Who could create such vandalism where uniformity previously reigned? The sort of people who did this presumably:

Oh, but of course that is colourful charming Notting Hill isn’t it? The point about good housing is that it is robust – and that owners and residents will want to put their own stamp on it. Accordia has been universally acclaimed. It is evidently much loved. But it is a collection of individual houses – not a housing tower, not a set of student residences, not a hospital. People will want to put their imprints on it. If it can’t cope with the odd rattan blind or new house number, then it isn’t up to much. It’s time to get over it and get on with life.









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