A curated list of research, reports and essays to support building better places and communities.

Building in Beauty - Cost and Value

Knight Frank was commissioned by Her Majesty’s Government of Great Britain’s Building Better Building Beautiful Commission to research the challenges facing landowners and to identify whether there is an added commercial or other value, and to what extent, in considering beauty and quality in new housing.

Hugh Petter, Director of ADAM Architecture and ADAM Urbanism, commented on the research reports that, “This is one of the most significant contributions to the debate about the housing crisis, placemaking and value published in recent years.  It is an exceptional piece of work and should be required reading for everyone involved in the built environment.   It is more rounded in its view than any previous review of this subject, and we must hope now that the Government listens carefully to the advice that Charlie Dugdale and his colleagues at Knight Frank have laid out with such clarity.

We only have one chance to get things right, and this report provides a solid foundation that can be built upon, but if only everyone digests the evidence and then works together to overcome the issues which are many and various.”

Find the two reports compiled below:

Cost and Value: identifying the cost and value of well-designed development schemes  –  Knight Frank analyses the challenges that landowners face in delivering high-quality housing and makes recommendations to mitigate those challenges.

Building in Beauty: how to increase the design quality of schemes through the development process –  Knight Frank looks at new housing developments from around the United Kingdom to identify if there is added value in cases where schemes are developed with quality as an explicit aim. The report also looks at value beyond the housing itself.

With thanks to ADAM Architecture

Placemaking: A Patient Approach to Creating Communities

ADAM Architecture and Farrer & Co have sponsored an industry report that raises questions and highlights schemes where developers and land-owners have taken a quality-led approach to property development, leaving a legacy in the communities they are building and ultimately driving up capital values.

“What are modern, successful Community Developments and what can we learn from them as we seek to create better places?”

“The UK’s housing crisis is about more than just supply and demand. In a world that is evolving fast, it is also about the need for homes that reflect a changing society. This report explores how adopting a patient approach to placemaking can:
• create beautiful places for people to live
• deliver a higher volume of affordable homes
• benefit the local economy
• benefit the public purse
• be positive for the environment
• generate a higher return on investment”

The research was conducted by Future Places Studio

Download a pdf copy of the report here.

With thanks to ADAM Architecture

Tomorrow's Home: Emerging Social Trends and Their Impact on the Built Environment

“ADAM Urbanism and Grainger plc, the UK’s largest listed residential property company, have published their research “Tomorrow’s Home”. This wide-ranging and comprehensive publication looks into emerging social trends in the 18 to 34 age group in England and Wales and how these will impact on the built environment. The research was conducted by Lily Bernheimer from Space Works Consulting.

“Covering topics from employment and tenure to travel and leisure, the report reveals how technology, education, wealth and personal relationships are changing the lifestyles of the up-and-coming generation. This age group, the ‘Millennials’, represent 25% of the population and their needs and wants are bound to have a profound impact on the built environment in the near future.

“As part of a number of significant findings, the report identifies a new ‘individual collectivism’, where city living, sharing and renting are on the increase; ‘downloadable lifestyles’, where the new generation will demand increased facilities in cities and smaller towns, ‘mega/micro commuting’, where new working conditions are already changing travel patterns; and suggests that we are seeing ‘the end of the dormitory suburb’. All this will lead to ‘new housing ladders’ which will transform our towns, cities and countryside.”

Read more and view an Executive Summary

With thanks to ADAM Architecture

Describing Trends in Urban Design

Research carried out by Claire Jamieson and Professor Robert Adam for ADAM Urbanism.

“This research project, originally intended to discover recent and emerging trends, begins with an attempt to develop a vocabulary and descriptive methodology. It has the capacity to be a stand-alone study that could have wider applications across the master planning and urban design disciplines.”

Published in URBAN DESIGN International, Identifying trends in master planning: A typological classification system.

Download a pdf copy of the article published in UD

Download a pdf copy of the research summary document

With thanks to ADAM Architecture

YouGov Survey Results Show That People Prefer Traditional Rather Than Contemporary Buildings

Ina YouGov survey to determine whether the public prefers traditional or contemporary buildings, 77% of respondents who selected a design, from a choice of 4, chose traditional architecture over contemporary styles. Only 23% chose contemporary buildings. This is thought to be the first time that a survey has been conducted to find out the people’s preference in relation to non-residential buildings. Architects lashed out at the survey results and traditional architecture. Leading the professional attack is the president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Ruth Reed. Download a PDF of the Results and Follow up of the survey

With thanks to ADAM Architecture

Create Streets: Not just multi-storey estates

London has a large amount of social housing built as large multi-storey blocks from the 1950s to the 1970s which is unpopular with the public. Nor, ironically, is it particularly high density. Replacing it with proper terraced housing would transform London, making London more attractive, benefitting residents, and potentially allowing a large increase in housing in the capital. This report investigates the impact of multi-storey dwellings on social wellbeing, livability, accessibility of housing compared to street-based dwellings. The research  provides recommendations for policymakers to help realise a vision of a better London which begins to tackle its housing crisis.

With thanks to Create Streets and Policy Exchange

A Housing Design Audit For England

With the drive to deliver more homes across the country has come a loud call for those developments to be of a high standard of design in order to deliver high quality, liveable and sustainable environments for residents. Research has consistently shown that high quality design makes new residential developments more acceptable to local communities and delivers huge value to all.

Housing design audits represent systematic approaches to assess the design quality of the external residential environment. This new audit evaluates the design of 142 large-scale housing-led development projects across England against seventeen design considerations. It provides enough data for comparisons to be made regionally and against the results of previous housing design audits conducted over a decade ago. It establishes a new baseline from which to measure progress on housing design quality in the future.

Whilst some limited progress has been made in some regions, overwhelmingly the message is that the design of new housing environments in England are ‘mediocre’ or ‘poor’. Collectively, we need to significantly raise our game if we are to create the sorts of places that future generations will feel proud to call home.

With thanks to Place Alliance

Living with beauty: report of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission

The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission is an independent body set up to advise government on how to promote and increase the use of high-quality design for new build homes and neighbourhoods. In its final report, ‘Living with beauty’, the Commission has set out its recommendations to government.

With thanks to Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission

Mental Health and The Built Environment

This book by David Halpern explores the relationship between the planned or built environment and the occurrence of mental ill-health. It begins by providing a broad overview of what is known about the causes of psychopathic behaviour. It then goes on to discuss the issues that arise when attempting to identify: the impact of the environment as a source of stress; the effects that the environment can have on the quality of relationships between people; and the relationship between symbolic aspects of the environment, the planning process and mental health. The book uses analysis and case studies drawn from the UK and US and contains example illustrations of the built environment.

Written by David Halpern and published by Routledge

Embodied and whole life carbon assessment for architects

This paper introduces architects to carbon assessment in the built environment and its application through the RIBA work stages. It makes the case for architects’ role in reducing carbon emissions to mitigate climate change, explains the key concepts of embodied and whole life carbon and recommends the use of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) methodology for undertaking detailed carbon assessments (RICS Whole life carbon assessment for the built environment professional statement 2017). To date, this is the most comprehensive and consistent approach available to the industry.

With thanks to The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

Built environment and social well-being: How does urban form affect social life and personal relationships?

The built environment can influence social well-being. This paper bublished in Cities: The International Journal of Urban Planning, demonstrates how  compact urban forms may increase satisfaction with personal relationships. The research provides an exploration of how shorter distances facilitate larger social networks and more frequent socializing, while higher densities and ‘third places’ increase opportunities to meet new people. These findings contribute to debates on quality of life and urban sustainability.

Written by Kostas Mouratidis from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Older, Smaller, Better: Measuring how the character of buildings and blocks influences urban vitality

This study demonstrates the unique and valuable role that older, smaller buildings play in the development of sustainable cities. Based upon statistical analysis of the built fabric of three major American cities–Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. –this research finds that established neighborhoods with a mix of older, smaller buildings perform better than districts with larger, newer structures when tested against a range of economic, social, and environmental outcome measures.

With thanks to National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Preservation Green Lab

Housing Britain: A Call to Action

Housing Britain: A Call to Action is a publication which features a range of specially commissioned articles articulated by a range of industry pioneers and thought leaders addressing issues around housing in the UK.

“Housing has become one of the greatest challenges the United Kingdom faces. Our young people are increasingly less likely to own a home of their own and rental properties can sometimes be expensive and poorly maintained." "It is vital that in tackling this vastly difficult and multifaceted issues we do so in a way that will ensure future generations have access to attractive, well planned and genuinely sustainable places to live for years to come.”

With thanks to The Prince’s Foundation

Delivering Sustainable Urbanism, Strategic Land Investment Model

The collapse of the housing market in 2008-2010 exposed cracks in the larger economy and family budgets. The fact that shelter had become simultaneously the source of wealth and the source of debt for most families created a structural volatility in the economy from which it took years to recover. Property, seen for centuries as a long-term asset to be held as capital for the generation of income, was redefined as a commodity. Families, who had seen housing as shelter and security, suddenly saw it as an investment, and a boom and bust market for buy-to-let flats for investment purposes was the result, despite the lack of the same level of underlying demand for this type of accommodation in much of the UK. This report proposes that it is time to think about another way forward.

With thanks to The Prince’s Foundation

Housing London, A Mid-Rise Solution

London is facing acute housing shortages of both quality and quantity which threaten the vitality of the city. The majority of new housing provision serves only those in the highest earning bracket, forcing many Londoners to live within a built environment that neither support their needs nor promotes their wellbeing. The UK’s capital city is becoming increasingly spatialised by housing affordability, with central London property prices rising exponentially over the past few years, pushing lower-income residents to the periphery of the city and emphasising the separation between the haves and the have-nots. The prospects for young people in London are increasingly compromised too, as young workers and families struggle to find footing on the housing ladder. While affordability problems threaten the vitality and vibrancy of London’s population, poor design quality does the same to London’s streets and neighbourhoods. Faceless residential towers and poorly conceived mega-schemes erode street life and undermine the creation of strong, harmonious and enduring communities and place London’s historic architectural and urban identity under increasing threat. How can we respond to this challenge? This report positions the question of urban form and housing typology at the centre of the housing debate currently taking place.

With thanks to The Prince’s Foundation

Quality, The Key to Delivering More Homes

Britain needs more homes, and we need to find a way to not only meet that demand, but to do so in a way that helps create beautiful, affordable and sustainable communities. For too long Britain’s housing need has not been met with appropriate consideration for these factors, fostering antipathy for new developments and hindering the acceptance and delivery of new homes. Through our Enquiry by Design (Ebd) process we have engaged with communities across the world, giving them a say in the planning process. The successful outcomes of these projects highlight the value of extensive community engagement, its direct relationship to the acceptance of new developments and their subsequent success in the marketplace.

This report presents evidence assembled by The Prince’s Foundation on three exemplar builds (Highbury Gardens, Islington, London; The Kingston Mills development, Bradford on Avon; and the Westoe Crown Village development in South Shields), demonstrating that sincere efforts to involve communities, while designing to a local context, can help developers attain planning approval and improve commercial viability.

With thanks to The Prince’s Foundation

The Value of Community, An Evidence Informed Development Model

A joint report between the University College of Estate Management and The Prince’s Foundation which reveals a direct link between housing type and social benefits.

The report demonstrates to the public sector, landowners, developers, house-builders and investors that building more mixed-use walkable settlements is a worthwhile longer-term investment, in order to create a better built environment experience and future liveability. This strand of the research has sought to determine (not just to understand) the key aspects of building a sustainable community, and the presence of a measurable social benefit to those people who live there. The focus is on the concept of ‘value of community’ in the context of the built environment.

With thanks to The Prince’s Foundation

Walkability Accessibility and Health: Evidence Supporting the Benefits of Walkable Neighbourhoods

The Prince’s Foundation, with partners Kellogg College, Oxford and the new Global Centre on Healthcare and Urbanisation, launched a report compiling the evidence that exists between walking, accessibility and health to make the strong case for why new places need to be designed around those principles.

This report explores how sustainable urban design combined with active travel - providing the access and capacity to move efficiently by foot, cycle, scooter, or wheelchair - is already changing the health of our cities, townsfolk, and the urban environment. Practical, efficient, and walkable urban design promotes healthier residents, generates less polluted and greener urban zones, and may start up, or refresh local economies. Building a legacy of walkable neighbourhoods is a first step, one of many ahead, to lead us in a more secure, and healthier direction.

With thanks to The Prince’s Foundation

Walkability Report

How “walkable” is your neighbourhood? Can residents walk to work, their children’s school, and to the nearest shops and amenities? What does that mean for their quality of life and the time they spend in the car or exercising in the outdoors?

This report, from The Prince’s Foundation, with partners Space Syntax, Knight Frank and Smart Growth Associates, sets out how promoting “walkability” and mixed use in new developments can promote health and wellbeing and create sustainable and popular residential communities.

With thanks to The Prince’s Foundation

Beauty in my Backyard Housing Manual

The BIMBY Housing Manual is designed so that community groups can say to developers, ‘we welcome your investment in our community, but we want you to respect our place and build something beautiful that actually improves where we live!’

With thanks to The Prince’s Foundation

Walkability Accessibility and Health: Evidence Supporting the Benefits of Walkable Neighbourhoods

The Prince’s Foundation, with partners Kellogg College, Oxford and the new Global Centre on Healthcare and Urbanisation, launched a report compiling the evidence that exists between walking, accessibility and health to make the strong case for why new places need to be designed around those principles.

This report explores how sustainable urban design combined with active travel - providing the access and capacity to move efficiently by foot, cycle, scooter, or wheelchair - is already changing the health of our cities, townsfolk, and the urban environment. Practical, efficient, and walkable urban design promotes healthier residents, generates less polluted and greener urban zones, and may start up, or refresh local economies. Building a legacy of walkable neighbourhoods is a first step, one of many ahead, to lead us in a more secure, and healthier direction.

With thanks to The Prince’s Foundation

Building a Legacy, a Landowners Guide to Popular Development

With a housing affordability crisis in the UK and pressure to build up to 300,000 homes a year, there is a real risk that the built legacy of this generation will be a country littered with soulless housing estates. With dwindling natural resources, and new carbon reduction targets to address climate change, there has never been a more urgent moment to think very carefully about what we are building so that we don’t burden future generations with short-sighted solutions. Getting the built fabric right is a way to unlock the natural, social and financial capital of an area. Getting it wrong will produce a negative impact on people’s lives for generations to come. This report aimed at landowners shows the steps to producing popular development.

With thanks to The Prince’s Foundation

Community Capital Matrix

Unless we think about Community Capital, how to enhance it, how to make it resilient and how to form the kind of surroundings that will help that resilience in the future, we face huge challenges.

This leaflet introduces The Prince’s Foundation’s Community Capital Matrix, which we use as a framework to assess the sustainability of all our developments.

With thanks to The Prince’s Foundation

Enquiry By Design For Health, Design Briefing For Hospitals

The first healthcare-focused Enquiry by Design (EbD) was held at Cherry Knowle in Sunderland at the end of 2003, for one of the five original participating Trusts (South of Tyne and Wearside). After the successful conclusion of the Cherry Knowle EbD, the Secretary of State for Health called for two further health EbDs to further test the viability and applicability of EbD in the NHS. In 2005-2006 EbDs were carried out at Sutton for the Merton, Sutton and Mid-Surrey NHS Better Healthcare Closer to Home programme, and at Alder Hey for the Royal Liverpool Children’s NHS Trust. This report summarises the lessons learnt from the three pilot EbDs, and puts forward guidance aimed at increasing public engagement, raising design aspirations, and informing Design Frameworks for healthcare projects.The purpose of this document is to make available the learning from three pilot Enquiry by Design projects in order to inform and raise the quality of the Design Briefing Process for healthcare buildings in the future.

With thanks to The Prince’s Foundation

Valuing Sustainable Urbanism

Statistics inform us that the United Kingdom covers 94,526 sq miles (244,820 sq km), less than half the size of our nearest Eu neighbour France (at 211,209 sq miles) with whom we have broadly compatible population and GDP. With approximately 60 million inhabitants to accommodate at the new millennium, the British have for many years placed a necessary premium on our scarce land resource and, accordingly, have hotly debated the ways this land should be developed. We are fortunate that so many dedicated and enlightened politicians, professionals and passionate activists have, through the years, doing what they can in design, planning and policy to preserve the country from despoliation through overdevelopment; in current estimation, something like 12% of the UK land mass is identified as developed. Many imagine the figure must be higher; in a recent CPRE poll, a cross-section of population questioned had the idea that over 50% of our surface area was urbanised. Some argue that our success in protecting the landscape leaves us room now to sprawl as if the husbandry of past generations can all be spent in this one.

This report contains the results of research undertaken by Savills Research in the second half of 2006. The research was designed to do two things; first, to define and then to measure the physical characteristics of sustainable urbanism. Second, to look at the economic characteristics of sustainable urbanism in terms of present total development value and to identify any differences in other forms of value generation and residential value growth between it and other forms of urbanism.

With thanks to The Prince’s Foundation

Enquiry By Design

Enquiry by Design (EbD) is an important tool in developing sustainable communities; delivering masterplans based on enduring design principles, and developing the place-making skills of all participants in the workshop process. It is developed through a workshop facilitated by The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment. The EbD process brings key stakeholders together, to assess a complex range of design requirements for the development site, with every issue tested by being drawn.

This leaflet introduces the EbD process in general terms and explains how an EbD works, who is involved, and how the process allows everyone a say in the future of their neighbourhood or town.

With thanks to The Prince’s Foundation

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