New town, old ideals

6 September 2019

The excerpt below originally appeared in Property Week as part of their RESI Design Challenge.


BuckleyGrayYeoman were challenged to come up with a vision for residential-led, intergenerational, tech-driven, mixed-use schemes of the future.


Associate Andrew Brown will be pitching his proposal to a panel of selected judges at this year’s RESI Convention in Newport, Wales on Friday 13th September.  Other practices include Assael Architecture, The Manser Practice and Chapman Taylor.



‘I wish we could go back to the days when you knew everyone on your street and could leave the back door unlocked.’



Advances in technology are quickly revolutionising the way we live and providing us with the highest living standards have ever, however we still dream of a return to the quality of life and sense of community that was enjoyed at the beginning of the last century.


The historic migration of retail and business from local community centres into town centre developments and subsequently out of town shopping and business centres has been one of the contributing factors to the decline in this sense of community. People no longer have their life where their home is.


The advancement of online shopping and the advent of virtually immediate delivery combined with improvements in data transfer speeds and remote communication mean that day to day life can once again return to smaller community centres.


Our proposals look at how an urban block, vacated by a redundant town centre shopping centre, can be re-developed, influenced by these technological advances to re-establish this historic model. A place where people live above their workplace and spend their daily lives in the direct vicinity of their home, the long commute a thing of the past – a living, working community.


The ground floor houses a mix of small retail units, offices, artisan workspaces, leisure and community spaces.


Bakers, greengrocers, fishmongers and butchers, fresh food you can pick up on your way home. Shops that stock only one of each item, try them and they can be delivered to your home by drone within the hour. Online collection spaces, have a look at it, if you don’t want it, back in the locker and away it goes.


Coworking space, and studios where people can go to work away from the distractions of the spare room, but within walking distance of their front door, able to go home for lunch.


Community and social spaces. a village hall, nursery, library, gym. Small bars, restaurants and cafés. Spaces to cater for the daily needs of all generations, young adults, families, retirees.


On top of this are medium rise residential blocks housing twenty odd units of mixed size and tenure to provide accommodation for the variety of stages of life, a street where you once more know your neighbours. Gardens and balconies overlooking each other, visually distinct units providing a sense of place and ownership.


Between the blocks are a range of communal services, car share, bike store, hydroponic farms, drone delivery.


In the protected core is a central communal space, the village green, a place to relax and a safe place to play, overlooked and monitored by the community.


This configuration results once more in the chance daily encounters that establish and reinforce friendships, a defined community, a place to spend your life, a new town based on old ideals, just like the good old days……but with drones.