This scheme should need littleintroduction. But apparently itdoes. While the aspirations ofBedZED (Beddington ZeroEnergy Development) have beenwell documented
(AR June2001), 18 months after the firstresidents moved in it is time tothink beyond the statistics thatqualify its conception. This is, letus not forget, a piece of radicalarchitectural design, anddeserves to be seen within awider context as a model forfuture volume housing.Beyond reducing energyconsumption to 10 per cent ofsimilar suburban homes built to1995 regulations, it is a model ofplace making, and of high-densitysuburban urbanization. A modelof architectural imagination andmixed-use integration. Andabove all of optimism andprogress. But before this, it isperhaps equally pertinent tostate what BedZED is not. It isnot a high budget, highly refinedshow piece. It is certainly notarchitectural wallpaper. It isinstead an exemplary workingexperiment: the kind of mega-prototype essential to testissues concerning future housinggenerations. So those whocriticize the eccentricity of someof its details clearly miss thepoint. After all, with over tenyears as a key associate ofMichael Hopkins and Partners,Bill Dunster graduated from oneof the best schools ofarchitectural refinement. Sinceleaving MHP however, he nowchooses to prioritize otherbroader facets of architecture,of which there are many.Meeting him on the BedZEDsite recently, where he runs hisown design studio (ZED Factory),Dunster constantly drawsparallels between BedZED andthe adjacent development, thelikes of which he sees asobsolete. Here he playsdevelopers at their own game,adopting their language and theircurrency – that of economy.Through an integrated approach,BedZED provides the samedwelling density as the adjacentspeculative development, butwith a 35 per cent increase inspace allowance. This in turnprovides valuable revenueearning benefits in the form ofadditional live-work units, andcommunity facilities such assurgery, a community hall and abar. It also results in a vastlyimproved public realm, with areduction in naked tarmac andvirtually no unused (andtherefore unloved) residualspace. This is a principle thatDunster describes as usingplanning gain to facilitate carbontrading. In other words, not onlydoes mixed use bring the socialand environmental benefits of a
WAKE UP CALL
As governments around the world struggle to providesufficient affordable homes in cities, BedZED has muchto teach architects, developers, and residents alike.
1With south-facing sun spaces,BedZED’sterracesestablish analternative suburban prototype ...2... a stark contrast to the low-density, car-dominated streetscapeof the conventional existing housing.3Each one-bedroom loft apartmenthasitsown entrance and sky garden,set within the site’sdistinctiveroofscape.site plan123