Architects, invited give their imagination free rein in a competition to “radically reinvent” the model for affordable living in upland Yorkshire, have pulled down walls and taken inspiration from the city lofts of Manhattan, where they say life and work co-exist seamlessly.
The first sight of three shortlisted designs for a plot at Horton-in-Ribblesdale and three more for one at Burneside in the Lake District, reveal a dramatic departure from the stone cottages familiar in both locations.
Members of the Royal Institute of British Architects are competing to produce alternative homes which complement the landscape, while at the same time meeting the needs of young families to whom the countryside might otherwise be out of bounds.
The contest has been organised by Great Place Lakes and Dales, a three-year project to encourage younger generations to live and work in rural communities. It was convened in the wake of a catastrophic drop in the number of young residents, and the closure of several village schools.
The shortlist, distilled from more than 100 entries, went on display yesterday, with a winner due to be picked by the end of the month and building expected to start on a triangular plot alongside the Settle-Carlisle railway line, as soon as the necessary planning permission has been secured.
One of the shortlisted architects, advocating a “rural youthquake” in the Dales, proposes a home called the Flexstead, partly built off-site and eschewing a fixed layout in favour of a on open-plan interior which “removes the need for unnecessary and costly fixed room construction”.
Its designer says the Dales farmsteads were the “original flexible dwellings”, with a “blank canvas for rural life inside a simple stone structure”. The design brief adds: “New York’s city lofts symbolise the modern work-live ethos. But the Dales got there first, almost 200 years ago.”
Richard Dowson, consultant to the project, said the brief had been to conceive properties with options for home working that were not just “boring boxes”.
He said: “We wanted something that was innovative but also viable, and we seem to have achieved that.
“We didn’t want properties that would stick out like a sore thumb, but ideas that used traditional materials and styles, developed in different ways to attract younger residents.”