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What is a Village?
Before jumping right into this new theme of Urban Village, it will be informative to
step back a bit and appreciate the phenomena of village more generally, for
apparently the adjective urban is referring to a certain kind of village.
In A Geography of Settlements, F. S. Hudson declares:
There is no clear-cut distinction between a hamlet and a village nor between a
village and a town. It is generally assumed that a hamlet is smaller and less compact
than a village and that it lacks some of its amenities, just as a village in turn is less
built up than a town and is without some of the facilities that a town provides
A village is more closely related to its immediate surroundings than a town and it
more completely typifies the kind of region in which neither manufacturing industry
nor commerce are highly significant. In most villages, the majority of the workers are
occupied in farming, but it is generally agreed that besides agricultural villages there
also exist forest villages, mining and quarrying villages, fishing villages, [etc.]
The characteristic of the village being closely related to its immediate surroundings
is found universally.

The Village Design Institute notes some additional defining

characteristics of villages:
They tend to be compact, with well-defined boundaries and well-defined centers,
these centers usually being some sort of village green, square, or plaza, often with a
tree, obelisk, fountain, or statue something symbolically meaningful to the history
of the village as a focal point. These centers invariably contain a marketplace, the
economic hub of the village, usually lined with administrative buildings;
They tend to be small enough so that everyone can be recognized there are no
strangers yet large enough so that all essential economic functions the necessities
of life can be produced or serviced entirely within that habitation system; this
makes them very self-reliant in a way the hamlet could never be, with a strong
sense of collective identity and purpose that starts to disperse at town scale;
Villages tend to maintain their population levels, in a self-organizing way, within the
ecological carrying capacity of their encompassing environs and there are social
taboos to compel this;
Villages, as self-contained organic unities, are capable of enforcing their own laws
internally, without the need of a state-sponsored police force; and these laws are
consistently derivative of natural laws.7

Individual villages tend to have something distinctive about them either in custom,
speech, or dress so that when traveling about the region, ones village of origin can
be instantly recognized by others;
Actual population for a village, taking into account all the above factors, will not
exceed 5000 persons; settlements larger than this move into town scale. At the
lower end of the spectrum, a population of 500 persons is the bare minimum for
achieving the social, economic, and cultural potentials of the village; settlements
smaller than this move into hamlet scale.

The New Urbanism

The Urban Village is appearing within, or paralleled to, a larger movement called
The New Urbanism, so a complete understanding of the purposes and prospects of
the Urban Village will necessarily include this more inclusive perspective.
From the Congress of New Urbanism we learn:
The New Urbanism is an urban design movement that burst onto the scene in the
late 1980s and early 1990s. New Urbanists aim to reform all aspects of real estate
development. Their work affects regional and local plans. They are involved in new
development, urban retrofits, and suburban infill. In all cases, New Urbanist
neighborhoods are walkable, and contain a diverse range of housing and jobs. New
Urbanists support regional planning for open space, appropriate architecture and
planning, and the balanced development of jobs and housing. They believe these
strategies are the best way to reduce how long people spend in traffic, to increase
the supply of affordable housing, and to rein in urban sprawl. Many other issues,
such as historic restoration, safe streets, and green building are also covered in the
Charter of the New Urbanism, the movements seminal document.
New Urbanism is the most important planning movement this century, and is about
creating a better future for us all. It is an international movement to reform the design
of the built environment, and is about raising our quality of life and standard of living
by creating better places to live. New Urbanism is the revival of our lost art of placemaking, and is essentially a reordering of the built environment into the form of
complete cities, towns, villages, and neighborhoods the way communities have
been built for centuries around the world. New Urbanism involves fixing and infilling
cities, as well as the creation of compact new towns and villages.

In urban planning and design, an urban village is an urban development typically
characterized by medium-density housing, mixed use zoning, good public transit and
an emphasis on pedestrianization and public space.
Urban villages are seen to provide an alternative to recent patterns of urban
development in many cities, especially decentralization and urban sprawl. They are
generally purported to:

Reduce car reliance and promote cycling, walking and transit use
Provide a high level of self-containment (people working, recreating and living
in the same area)
Help facilitate strong community institutions and interaction

The concept of urban villages was formally born in Britain in the late 1980s with the
establishment of the Urban Villages Group (UVG).[1] Following pressure from the
UVG, the concept was prioritized in British national planning policy between 1997
and 1999.[2]
Urban village ideals have been applied to new greenfield developments, as well
as brownfield developments and urban renewal projects. The concept has been
widely adopted in many countries and used by both Government development
agencies as well as private enterprise as a guiding concept for many projects.


The ideas of the urban commentator Jane Jacobs are widely regarded as having had
the largest influence on the urban village concept. [3] Jacobs rejected
themodernist views that dominated urban planning and architecture in the 1950s-60s
and constructed an alternative philosophy that values traditional neighborhoods and
the role of the inner city.[4] Proponents believe that urban villages provide a viable
alternative to the social ills that characterize modernism in cities, such as freeways
and high-rise estates.
Another strong impetus for urban villages has been growing disenchantment with
the urban sprawl that has characterized the development of many cities sinceWorld
War II. Urban villages are seen to create self-contained communities that reduce the
need to travel large distances and reduce the subsequent reliance on the

automobile. The decline of noxious industry and the emergence of the service
economy allows the mixing of employment and residential activities without detriment
to residents. This is in contrast to the single-use zoning that helped fuel urban sprawl
during the industrial and manufacturing eras. Through more consolidated
development, urban villages can reduce the intrusion of urban growth on the
countryside. These environmental consequences of urban sprawl have come to
dominate discussion promoting urban villages in recent years. [5]
Urban villages are widely seen to provide a solution to the demise of community that
is often associated with modernism and sprawl. The concept uses the social and
physical morphology of the traditional rural village as an inspiration for creating better
functioning communities. The urban village movement has been influenced
by Ebenezer Howards Garden City ideals which also emphasize environmental
determinism in relation to community. Urban design techniques such as public space
and pedestrianization are employed to facilitate the development of community by
encouraging human interaction. This philosophy shares many attributes with the new
urbanism school of thought.

The number of housing units required exceeds the amount of land available to build
on. Medium to high density housing has huge potential as an affordable urban
solution to the issues of sprawl and population growth driving the ongoing
intensification of the city. This architectural project is to focus on housing design and
how to produce adequate living environments for the growing population through a
more efficient use of land. Being able to accommodate the growing population in
affordable and sustainable housing that caters to individual needs while enhancing a
sense of community will be a focus in the future development of medium to high
density housing schemes throughout the country. It is the aim of this project to
demonstrate how we can achieve this objective without sacrificing architectural
The projects methodical approach combines research and analysis through to
planning and design. The brief has continually been adapted throughout the design
process as the extent of research widened. Further reading included such topics as
strategies and protocols for housing and urban planning, architectural precedents of
medium density housing and mixed-use developments, and environmental and
social sustainability issues. The project has been based on a combination of
conventional research and research by design, frequently moving from analysing
written work and research for design, to research by design and vice versa. so that
all key objectives were taken into account affordability, sustainability, and


Original thoughts posed the question, How can we, an architects, design affordable
medium-density housing which ensures safe and healthy communities while
enhancing environmental sustainability?
This question implies that through density an affordable living environment can be
achieved. Affordability is a key concept in the project direction. However, this project
also aims at incorporating a number of environmentally sustainable strategies to help
with keeping the running cost of each dwelling low. In addition it is also important to
achieve an environment in which people feel safe and can live together comfortably
whilst sharing common outdoor spaces and neighbourhood services and facilities.
Ensuring each dwelling is provided with an adequate private outdoor living space
also becomes essential in the social value of the community. It has become clear
that matters concerning both environmental and social sustainability go hand in hand
with affordability. Hence, in answering the research question it becomes clear that
each of the three aspects - affordability, sustainability and community - needs to be
mutually reinforcing in order for this type of dense, inner city living to be successful.
The redefined research question is: How are we to design denser housing schemes
to make higher density living both acceptable and affordable for more peoples?
The project will need to produce a result which looks attractive and makes dense
urban living a suitable and affordable option particularly for first home buyers and
households on low to moderate incomes. The end result will show that this type of
living can be achieved that the outcome can attain an attractive and resourceconserving.

Answer to affordable housing issues. The final outcome will endeavour to produce
an architectural scheme which provides a quality result for a vibrant, yet affordable,
urban community. Environmental responsibility and community values will play an
equally important role when facing the issues of affordability.

Objective One: The positioning of the urban village concept within wider planning,
development and policy discourses
Objective Two: The application of the urban village concept in specific localities
Objective Three: Synergies between affordability and sustainability are to be
researched, evaluated and formulated in design relevant terms for a mixed-use,
medium-density housing scheme.
Objective Four:

Affordable Housing

The definition of affordable housing as set out by the Affordable Housing Strategy
(2003) will be used for the purpose of this study.

Housing is considered to be affordable if households can access suitable and

adequate housing by spending a maximum of 30% of their gross income.
Income alone is not the only factor that measures affordability. Dwellings must meet
a suitable and adequate standard of living to be considered affordable. Low quality
housing is often cheap to rent or buy, but results in poor health and a greater
expense to heat and maintain. This is where quality design becomes an important
factor when addressing issues of housing affordability.

Decent Housing. This description was selected as it describes the aims to which
this housing project aspires.
Housing must be affordable, of good quality, and meet reasonable standards of
design and energy efficiency.

Environmental Sustainability
The following statement sums up the strategy for environmental sustainability as
defined for this project. This statement is a necessary definition for this project as it
states clearly the environmental issues to be dealt with in order to achieve a
desirable and affordable home.
An aim of this project is to; and build homes which have less impact on the
environment and are healthier, more comfortable, and have lower running costs.

Social Sustainability
Communities are made sustainable by the people living in them. By promoting
neighbourliness within a community people will want to live there and the place will
be sustained. The following statement outlines the provision of social sustainability
for this project:
Sustainability is an overriding social value, influenced and complemented in turn by
the provision of choice, safety and a sense of community or neighbourliness.

Scope and Limitations

A steep rise in land prices over the last few years has impacted sharply on housing
affordability. Building denser living environments within the existing footprint of the
city can be used as a means of providing a greater quantity of well located affordable
housing for both rent and purchase.

Multi-units are significantly cheaper than a typical detached house, particularly in the
more central suburbs of major cities because they occupy less land per unit. This
typology is now the first home choice for young households and those on low to
moderate incomes who are seeking affordable housing options.
It must be made clear that this project does not aim to solve the supply issues with
affordable housing. This becomes more than a matter of design and more an issue
of economics; of urban land use; of property development; of low wage economy;
and of construction technology. What this project does look at is ways in which we
can make multi-unit housing an accessible alternative to the low density detached
dwelling. It also looks at ways in which homes can be made affordable by making
them cheaper to run and live in by use of environmental strategies and technologies.
It must also be made clear that this project does not intend to produce a social
housing development. This project is geared toward creating a mixed community,
where all types of people who are faced with home ownership difficulties can afford
to buy a home. The major difference in affordable housing, as defined in this project,
is that the people intended for this scheme do not require subsidies from the
government in order to supplement a low income. It is more about capital cost of
home ownership. With good job prospects, average mortgage repayments are often
easily obtainable by households on a moderate income. Many who fit within this
income bracket tend to have no assets and very little capital to invest in the purchase
of a home. Government subsidy may be provided by means of helping with the
purchase price, but is not necessary for the ongoing living costs of these inhabitants.
It is intended that the running costs of the dwellings in this scheme will be low by
employing sustainable features, therefore making payments toward ongoing housing
costs easily obtainable to households on a moderate income.

The projects methodological approach progressed in a systematic order, flowing
from research and analysis through to planning and design. Adaptations to the brief
have been made throughout the process, in successive attempts to crystallise the
research question, aims and objectives. Research topics investigated in the project
were focused on the three key attributes of the scheme; current supply and demand
of affordable housing available, features and strategies of environmental
sustainability of which can aid in the reduction of running cost in the home; and
social sustainability concerns, where providing safe and healthy communities
ensures successful neighbourhoods.
The project has combined investigating the literature and current practice with
generating design ideas and solutions, and then using those to direct further
research into theory and practice.