The Housing Design Awards have rewarded 12 schemes that respond to the demands of 21st century living.

Housing minister Nick Raynsford has unveiled the results of this year’s Housing Design Awards.

Twelve projects have been honoured: four completed schemes and eight that have detailed planning permission.

The awards celebrate design excellence in schemes of four or more homes in England and Northern Ireland. Developments may be new-build, conversion or renovation schemes in the private or public sectors.

The judges noted a number of encouraging trends. There was an increase in entries featuring modern, well-designed city-centre flats aimed at young singles and couples and a dramatic rise in innovative construction and green design.

Judges also noted that the need to use land more efficiently meant there had been “a sea-change in the attitude of developers to sites that had not previously been built on”.

The Housing Design Awards are sponsored by the DETR, the National House Building Council, the RIBA and the Royal Town Planning Institute.

All the schemes in this year’s Housing Design This is what the judges had to say about the winners.

Completed schemes

Gwynne Road, London SW11 “This little block of housing association flats might appear to be a designer exercise in self-indulgent formalism. Far from it. Form, function, structure and planning are seamlessly woven into a bravura piece of design. Small, white and perfectly formed, it breathes quality at every corner. The mix of quality, ingenuity and cost-effectiveness is seen at its most striking in the perimeter walls. These are formed of wire “gabion” cages, filled with roadstone. They require no foundations, form an ideal base for self-sown plants, and, in a further leap of invention, are left empty at the top of the lower eastern walls for flowering creepers to penetrate and cover.” designer Walter Menteth Architects developer Ujima Housing sociation contractor JJ McGinley planning authority London Borough of Wandsworth Odessa Wharf, London SE16 “We have not done well by Docklands. Lumpen developments glower across the river at this former warehouse, and shoulder it on either side. But in the midst of this planning wasteland, Odessa Wharf shines out like a good deed in a generally naughty Thames-side world. So closely hemmed in is it, and so concerned for their privacy were its neighbours, that the only way to secure sun, light and views was to go up. Up, ingeniously, to timber cabin cowls on the roof, reached by spiral stairs through double-height top-lit living rooms. “This is a Danish-led development, and it shows in the quality of the fittings and finishes in the 14 units. It is a reproof to our own developers that it takes a client from overseas to show what intelligent patronage can achieve, but at the same time this is also a scheme they can learn from.” designer Fletcher Priest Architects, Torben Rix Arkitekt developer Greenholme Investments contractor Vascroft Contractors planning authority London Docklands Development Corporation Murray Grove, London N1 “Young single people on a modest income get a raw deal from mainstream housing. Yet these are just the residents our cities need to maintain their essential businesses and services. Now the Peabody Trust has developed a city-centre block of 30 one- and two-bedroom flats that not only provides affordable rents on a commercial basis, but does so through the use of highly innovative construction. Each of the flats is built out of two or three steel-framed modular units, delivered to site complete with fittings, plumbing, wiring and carpets, and erected in 10 working days. This is a trailblazer for the new generation of housing, and a demonstration of the performance and economic advantages of off-site prefabrication.” designer Cartwright Pickard Architects developer Peabody Trust contractor Kajima UK planning authority London Borough of Hackney Thorley Lane, Bishops Stortford “Thorley Lane is an isolated fragment, marooned on a bypass with vestigial public transport links, but it demonstrates that, given a more proactive transport and planning framework, sustainable urban extensions can be achieved. Conceived at a time when planning orthodoxy demanded a relatively low ceiling on density, a high level of car parking, and street lighting and road widths determined by the highways engineer, the scheme has successfully created a convincing piece of urban design. “The defiantly historicist treatment of the development, carried out though it is with skill, is not in itself particularly important. It is the planning, grouping and massing of the dwellings, coupled with fine landscaping and attention to detail, that make it exceptional.” designer Melville Dunbar associates developer and contractor Countryside Properties planning authority East Hertfordshire District Council