So, architect Alain Head has the solution to our housing problems (29 October, page 28).
It is, apparently, to build homes larger than key workers can afford to rent or buy. He may have lived long-term in a 36 m2 flat and not enjoyed the experience, but then perhaps it wasn’t as well planned and didn’t include as much fitted furniture as the flats at Barons Place do. Or perhaps he had so many possessions he was obliged to seek a larger and more expensive home – an option not open to hundreds of thousands of people in the UK on low incomes crowded into shared accommodation that meets Mr Head’s floor-space requirements, but which is still miserable to live in.
The 26 m2 studio that the Peabody Trust exhibited in association with affordable housing specialist LiveIn Quarters at the Ideal Home Exhibition in 2002 attracted a lot of favourable comment from the many thousands of visitors who viewed it. Significantly, over 10,000 of them each put down a £10 deposit to get on the waiting list to buy one.
With regard to the “upside-down balconies”, I doubt whether anyone would greatly benefit from having actual balconies on the north side of the building – which faces onto a busy main road – and would block out the light far more than the translucent canopies do.
I visited Barons Place last week and spoke to four of the new residents. In each case they were delighted with their new homes. Project architect Procter Matthews did a good job in difficult circumstances, and proved that size isn’t everything by designing small affordable flats that are pleasant to live in.
John Prewer, John Prewer Associates, via email