Constructive Thinking (Architects) became involveed in formulating proposals for the Welsh Streets via a number of different circumstances and projects we have been involved in over the last five years.
First of all, we have just completed the renovation of two large terraced houses on Botanic Rd in Kensington under the TSB retrofit for the future programme. The details for this programme can be found online, but the interesting parallel with this project is that we renovated one of the houses to current UK building regulations standard, and the other to an enhanced eco specification. Both of these renovations were from a bare brick situation similar to those on this site, and were brought up to a housing association lettable standard. So far as was practicable, all of the suppliers, contractors and tradesmen were based in Liverpool or the North West.
Secondly, over the last few years, we have run university design programmes (undergraduate) in both design and research based around the regeneration of this part of the city. Not all of them have involved retention, and not all of them have involved wholesale demolition, but over the years, with our students we have explored a number of different options , and from this have a deep understanding of the area along with the challenges and aspirations of the stakeholders involved.
Finally we have been living and working in the Liverpool area for over 20 years, and in that time have gained a wide understanding of the culture of the city and its inhabitants. As such our aim was that this in conjunction with our engagement with the community during the design process would allow any proposals or ideas to feel very much of the city.
There have been a number of different proposals for the Welsh Streets (by others), most of them have ‘engaged’ with the public to a greater or lesser extent, but none of the designers seem to have been given the opportunity to look at retention and refurbishment in any meaningful way. There also appears to have been only a cursory nod to the provision of community amenities. The very real threat from demolition has eroded trust and engendered fear within the community. We were asked to take a look at the viability of retention, and remodeling where possible, and to proposed some kind of amenity which could contribute to the integration of any new residents into the already established community. We were also asked to give some options for developer-led new build within our proposals so as a direct cost comparison could be made. We were to focus on the four streets from Kelvin Grove to Powis Street. Principles set out within this study may be readily applied to a wider site.
Constructive Thinking Studio Ltd. Liverpool Science Park, 131 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool, L3 5TF
t: (0151) 705 3433