Almost 7 years in its planning and design, the new village of Dickens Heath began to take shape at the end of 1997. Located in a rural setting beside the Stratford-Upon-Avon Canal and only 3 miles from Solihull town centre. It is designed to be home to a population of over 2000 people. At the outset, the council decided that Dickens Heath should be given special treatment. Rather than it become simply a large housing estate in the country, the view was taken that the new settlement should possess the features and attributes of a traditional village.
At the heart of the original masterplan there lay four key principles:
Have a clear identity giving residents a sense of place and belonging
Echo the traditional features of village development including houses, employment, recreation and welfare facilities, mixed to create a cohesive whole.
Provide a range of housing from first time buyer housing through to family housing and smaller units suitable for the elderly, thereby creating a mixed community of all ages and incomes.
Create a safe and pleasing environment for pedestrians while still accommodating the motor car, but without allowing it to dominate the environment.
Working with several other architects under the auspices of John Simpson as the master planners was an excellent example of co-operation towards well defined urban design objectives.
DICKENS HEATH DEVELOPMENT,
We designed five apartment buildings and worked alongside a number of other architectural practices in the development of the urban village core.
Comprising ground floor retail units with apartments above the scheme has been a great success. Each building has its own identity, scale and materials whilst fitting in with the overall masterplan. We were very anxious not to deploy over-scaled ‘traditional’ pitched roofs and instead developed rooftop apartments with pergolas and pavilions to create a more interesting architectural skyline.