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This manifesto calls on urban designers to build for a sustainable future

This manifesto calls on urban designers to build for a sustainable future

With today’s rapid rate of urbanization, cities across the world are facing increasing pressure to expand their built environment. However, if we are to prevent the looming threats of the climate crisis, urban planners need to rethink the way we build our homes.

Recently the manifesto called Live Well by Design is a blueprint for the future of housing. It sets out ten core tenets of urban design that are vital for the creation of sustainable communities and future neighborhoods and forms their commitment to design, wellbeing, choice, and sustainability.

The document includes pledges to build houses that are tailored to individual needs and to create green neighborhoods that encourage healthy routines and activities such as walking and cycling that make it easier to live a low carbon lifestyle.

Called Live Well by Design, the manifesto represents a blueprint for the future of housing. At the center of its roadmap for creating sustainable communities and future neighborhoods are ten core tenets of urban design, all of which put the emphasis on design, wellbeing, choice, and sustainability.

Established in 2019, House by Urban Splash is part of the Urban Splash family of property companies. It builds architect-designed factory-created, modular houses using low carbon and sustainable materials.

“This manifesto is our public commitment as a company to everything we believe in as a values-led organization,” Orla McGrath, the brand’s marketing director, told Dezeen.

“We believe homes should be the happiest place in the world, and to create that we must think beyond four walls, to the wider neighborhood, and the idea of community and belonging,” she continued.

The document also includes pledges to build houses that are tailored to individual needs and to create green neighborhoods that encourage healthy routines, thus enabling residents to live a low-carbon lifestyle.

Noting a lack of emphasis on neighborhood design and community within new housing developments in the UK, the team behind the manifesto stresses the importance of public amenities such as parks, schools, and health centers, and talks about how these are key to building healthy communities.

The company is already building homes in a number of cities in the UK. All of their new developments embody everything in the Live Well by Design manifesto, including ample green space and connections to water, and enables residents to walk or cycle to work. Small local businesses are also integrated into the neighborhood plan.

baby-boy-learn cycling with the help of his daddy

Before the official launch of House last year, Urban Splash had been developing modular houses since 2012 when the company teamed with Liverpool-based architects ShedKM to create its first prototype.

The two-story, factory-created homes were installed at Urban Splash’s neighborhood in New Islington, Manchester.

The company launched the product to the market in 2016, offering buyers a completely customizable home installed by the canal within minutes of Manchester city center.

Now with the backing of Homes England, the government’s housing accelerator, and Japanese company Sekisui House – the world’s largest homebuilder, House by Urban Splash has ambitions to become one of the UK’s top ten housebuilders within the next ten years.

It hopes to do this by changing the way that new homes and communities are conceived, created, and delivered in the UK.

One of the key aspects the team wanted to address was the lack of choice available in the UK’s new housing market, and this is outlined in Live Well by Design.

“In a lot of new developments you can choose from a set of basic house types with set layouts,” explained McGrath.

“But at House, you can tell us exactly how you want to lay it out and we build it for you. You choose how much space you need, how many rooms, how big and which way round. Our team is able to deliver homes for all different types of lifestyles.”

A lack of emphasis on neighborhood design and the community was another issue that the team identified within new housing developments in the UK.

The manifesto states the importance of amenities such as parks, schools, health centers, independent shops, and cafes, and talks about how they are essential to building a sense of community.

“Through our charitable trust we can support community projects and local enterprise so that things that make a difference in the life of a neighborhood are rooted in the neighborhood and delivered by local people for local people,” it reads.

The company is already building homes at Port Loop in Birmingham, New Islington in Manchester, and Northstowe in Cambridgeshire, with future neighborhoods planned for the Wirrall, Milton Keynes, and Cambridge.

McGrath said that Port Loop, a 43-acre waterside neighborhood in Birmingham with over 1,000 homes, and New Islington, a modern village in Manchester city center, embody everything in the Live Well by Design manifesto.

These developments have ample open green space and connections to water. Residents are able to walk or cycle to work through these spaces and small local businesses are integrated into the neighborhood plan.

At New Islington in Manchester, 31 percent of the homes are affordable while at Inholm at the new town of Northstowe in Cambridgeshire, 60 percent of the homes in the entire neighborhood are affordable.

Going forward McGrath expects that the manifesto will evolve.

“For now we’re using it as a blueprint to help us bid for new sites and to tell people what our intention is,” she explained. “We can use it as a design code when we start working with an architect to masterplan a new site.”

“We will use it as an evaluation tool to ensure that we have delivered on what we promised and that our neighborhoods live up to our high standards. Crucially, it will also show potential customers how we’ve set ourselves apart from other volume housebuilders.”