Just six minutes from central Leeds by train, Kirkstall Forge nestles in a wooded valley of the River Aire. This first phase of building at Kirkstall Forge will be the beginning of a new urban village and will create 135 new homes and 1850m² of shops, cafes and restaurants around a new central public square opposite the new bridge and train station.
FCBStudios led the masterplan, which makes the most of the surrounding landscape. To the north of the river, a street of terraced houses curves along the contours of the valley, with a second row lining the riverside below. Design inspiration has been taken from the steep terraced streets found in many Yorkshire towns where openings in the terraces provide routes and views both up to the green hillside, and down to the river.
The elevations will be simple, with a sense of solidity and durability coming from good quality materials. The buildings will be of brick, in a colour resembling the local stone used in the old forge building, the Abbey, and many other historic buildings in the area.
Though compact, the houses are unusually spacious, with 3.6m high ceilings in living spaces; open stairs; rooflights; and open plan layouts. Some have gardens and terraces on different levels to take advantage of the sloping site. Large garages for parking and storage result in pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined streets.
Adjacent to the square are two taller buildings with houses and apartments arranged around a large communal courtyard garden, but each has its own private roof terrace with great views across the valley. It is an arrangement that borrows both from industrial era ‘model villages’ such as Saltaire, and also from contemporary Scandinavian ideas about co-housing.
The houses and apartments all have links to the surrounding landscape, and a unity of character and materials will bring a strong sense of belonging to a new family of buildings to be designed and built over a number of phases.
2018 Housing Design Awards: project category