The design approach in the architecture discipline, especially in the last few years has been in a solid coherence with sustainability. While initially, the aim was to reduce the carbon footprint of a building, it is now to design a carbon-neutral structure or even a climate-positive one. RCKa is one such architecture firm based in London which has proposed a magnificent net-zero carbon village in the UK. They are well known for designing buildings that not only encourage social interaction but also promote well-being. Their innovative model is befitting to today’s socio-economic landscape at a large-scale.
Net-Zero Carbon Village
RCKa proposed a sustainable retirement village design in Chester. Chester is a city in north-western England and has extensive historical architecture. The proposed campus features a series of pitched roofs that have taken inspiration from the characteristic nature of Tudor town. Tudor style is an interesting blend of elements from the Renaissance and Gothic architecture as a part of Medieval British architecture. The highly energy-efficient scheme is a net-zero carbon village and aims to achieve the Fitwel Standard.
It sits on a vast site of 14,985 sq.m. that is a former garden center in Boughton Heath, Chester. The project includes more than 140 apartments and six villas. Additionally, it incorporates a community square where a clock tower acts as a beacon for the community that is otherwise surrounded by a green belt. The site is linked to car-free routes at the same time being located adjacent to a park. Further, the transport linkages connect it to a nearby canal by a foot/cycle path. The approach adopted for design is a human-centric one where pedestrians are of prime concern. The pedestrian-friendly environment caters to the site on an urban level and creates an enhanced experience of the urban village with a unique feel and aesthetic provided to it.
Why Net-Zero Carbon?
Net-zero carbon aims at stabilizing climate change by reducing CO2 emissions to zero. It can be achieved using renewable sources of energy and nuclear generation. London aims at becoming net-zero carbon by 2050 as per the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). Since the field of construction is an enormous contributor to the carbon footprint, the construction of such buildings is encouraged.
Fitwel stands for Facility Innovations Towards Wellness Environment Leadership. It looks into the health of a building through its certification program that explores the design methodology and certification standards. Considered as a need of the hour, it relies on an evidence-based system while it provides over 60 strategies for designing for the health and well-being of the occupants.
The location of the campus is on a brownfield site that is like an island on a greenbelt. Its development is a response to the local need for a facility where an optimum number of units are designed. The proposal for this retirement housing is ambitious as it not only provides the ordinary but also raises the bar with the addition of a lively environment for the community. A wide range of communal facilities is embraced with the villas at Boughton Heath which are also made available to the public. To keep the essence of the place, they are situated around a central avenue for the pedestrians which forms a community square. The integral planning would allow the users to remain fit, healthy, and most paramount, socially involved with the community. There is an integration of the built with the unbuilt, the surrounding verdant landscape. Therefore, the connection between the site and its surrounding is in the best interest of the people.
The campus achieves its net-zero target with the provision of a high-performance building fabric and a heat network spread across the site to reduce carbon emissions. Forming a combination with the generation of renewable energy on the site itself further accounts for a reduction in emissions.
The socially responsive architecture, as well as the aesthetics in their projects, resonate rigorously between people and places. As a result, their designs are eloquent and enhance the quality of life for the users. The projects at the civic level are dealt with an active approach to integrate the local community being stakeholders. The design process of their public architecture projects aims for generating living solutions on an urban level for society as a whole.
Future of the Design Proposal
The current status of the project is that it awaits a final call by authorities – Cheshire West and Chester Council. It has already been through two design review panel presentations. On approval, the work will commence in the summer of 2021. Once built, it is expected to set a benchmark in various fields such as meeting the high energy-efficiency standards. The design quality, sustainability, and biodiversity are the key features that make the campus complete. Besides, this design proposal will benefit the retired community largely. The strategically planned housing village in such a serene environment will be an ideal place to live.