Commissioned in early 2014, Fairbrook Grove is a remarkable project that arose from the success of previous development in Kent by the same client. The site, located next to the busy Thanet Way in Kent, presented several unique challenges that required a creative architectural approach.
To counter the issue of noise pollution from the busy road, the design team adopted the Passivhaus standard, which ensures maximum energy efficiency and insulation. Additionally, they drew on the local Kent vernacular to create a contemporary yet contextual design. The development comprises 14 house types and sizes, ranging from 3-beds up to 5 beds.
One of the defining features of Fairbrook Grove is the incorporation of extensive planting throughout the site, creating a series of “woodland retreats.” This not only complements the local context, which features several micro-woodlands scattered among agricultural land but also helps to create a sense of tranquillity and serenity for the residents.
Over 50% of the site has been designated communal landscaped areas, incorporating woodland walks, open green spaces, and play areas. The development also links to the existing cycle route, promoting sustainability and eco-friendliness.
A central communal woodland space was created to provide a place for children to play and for the community to gather. The houses are arranged so that they all open up into this central space, eliminating obvious boundary conditions that would interfere with the sense of community. Each home also has its own private garden that backs onto the site boundary, providing a balance between privacy and community.
To further enhance the rural character of the development, roads were eliminated in their typical form. Instead, subtly designed grasscrete routes were used to blend vehicular access with pedestrian movement, creating a more harmonious and cohesive environment.
Additionally, the Passivhaus design approach was an integral part of the overall sustainability goals of the project. By minimising the energy required to heat and cool the buildings, the development has a significantly reduced carbon footprint compared to conventional housing. This is a particularly important consideration given the global challenge of climate change and the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Furthermore, the Passivhaus standard is known for its focus on indoor air quality and comfort. The airtight building envelope and mechanical ventilation system used in Passivhaus buildings ensure a constant supply of fresh, filtered air, which is particularly beneficial for people with allergies or respiratory conditions. This, combined with the development’s location in a tranquil and green environment, helps to promote health and well-being among residents.
Finally, the project also features 6 semi-detached units located on the northern boundary, designed for maximum Passivhaus efficiencies. All of the other houses are large enough to function as detached units and follow a similar orientation and layout, with a long linear living space along the south edge opening up to south-facing private gardens while maintaining views through to entrances on the north side that overlook the communal woodland.