Oxley Woods by Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners


Oxley Woods by Rogers Stirl and Partners

Architects Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners have completed the first homes at Oxley Woods – a sustainable housing project near Milton Keynes in England.


The architects – formerly known as Richard Rogers Partnership – were hired by housebuilder George Wimpey to rethink the suburban housing typology.


As well as containing energy conservation features, the houses involve more off-site construction that traditional English homes.


Press release from the architects follows:


Oxley Woods - Design for Manufacture

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners


EcoHat is the ‘must have’ home accessory for 2007


George Wimpey – one of the UK’s leading housebuilders – has teamed up with internationally renowned architect, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP – formerly Richard Rogers Partnership), to challenge modern housebuilding and deliver the homes of the future.


The new homes, located at George Wimpey’s Oxley Woods development in Milton Keynes, feature cutting edge designs which will set them apart from traditional houses.


The 145 properties have been constructed from sustainable materials and employ unique features including an ‘EcoHat’ – allowing hot air to be reused to optimise energy consumption and provide passive solar water heating – as well as exceptional layouts to maximise space and light.


All of the homes on the site have been designed to meet the Government’s sustainability targets through using high levels of insulation and controlled ventilation in a bid to reduce carbon emissions. Through concepts applied by both RSHP and George Wimpey, each property will also achieve the maximum National Home Energy Rating – a measure of heating, lighting and appliances.


“Climate change is high on the agenda and developers in the UK need to start playing their part and making tangible contributions to eco housing," says Graeme Dodds, divisional managing director at George Wimpey. “The ongoing focus on the environment will not only impact on building policy, but also on the lives of consumers. We are extremely proud of Oxley Woods, which has allowed us to offer greater choice for the eco-conscious customer."


The homes at Oxley Woods have been precision engineered off-site to allow each house to be quickly and economically erected while maintaining build quality. They are not only cost effective and ecologically sound, but their positioning on the site offers a true ‘place for people’, providing an environment that encourages interaction through well-designed public and private spaces.


Each home has also been designed to feature two distinct zones – the ‘service zone’ which will incorporate bathroom, utility and staircase areas, and an uncluttered ‘living zone’ comprising living room, dining room and bedrooms.


Richard Rogers of RSHP, said: “Our partnership with George Wimpey has given us an opportunity to take a fresh look at housing design. By working closely together, we have been able to develop an approach which links construction closely to design, giving real value to the home owner. The scheme at Oxley Woods is highly flexible and sustainable and will, we hope, provide homes for a diverse community for many generations to come."


Graeme Dodds concluded: “In working with RSHP we had access to some of the most imaginative and forward thinking professionals in the world. We would like to thank them for their ongoing commitment and contribution to the scheme."


The 145 homes at Oxley Woods will be in 10 different designs and houses will be available with two, three, four and five bedrooms.


Posted on Thursday May 31st 2007 at 10:01 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • ramiro

    admiro el trabajo de ROGERS,actualmente estoy diseñando una torre de acero, cristal y hormigon. Por la complejidad del proyecto y asu vez por la sencillez del mismo quiero que Richard Rogers lo conozca.
    Agradezco me indiquen a que direccion de correo puedo hacerle llegar imagenes y textos del mismo.

    Un saludo,

    Ramiro Gonzalez

  • Darren Edawards

    Well, it appears the first residents have now moved into one of these homes. No details as yet, but I will try and find out more.

  • rick deckard

    my wife and i moved into oxley park in february 2008. i have to come clean and say we are both architects…and knew about this development way before it was built. while we are totally committed to sustainable design and reducing carbon emissions, it wasn’t the eco-features that was the main attraction of the development.

    funnily enough it was the experience inside that really marked this product out as something new in the UK mass housing scene.

    by using large windows, larger corridors, wider staircases and door frames that went right up to the soffit of the ceiling, the houses felt much bigger inside than they looked on the outside. i am assuming that the generous proportions are as a result of complying with the lifetime homes standards – but it really makes a huge difference to the feeling inside.

    the feeling of light and spaciousness was really palpable, and in total contrast to the boxy rabbit hutch feeling of all the other volume housing products that are the norm in this type of housing.

    RRP has put skylights in the top floor bathroom and there is also a skylight at the top of the hall just at the end of the staircase which floods the staircase with natural light.

    I find it ironic that although the houses are definitely striking in their aesthetic, and use all the latest prefabrication methods, it is these simple measures that make the most difference to the experience of the design.

    When my wife saw the skylight in the top floor bathroom (ours is a 3 storey model) that was the clincher and we signed up for the house based on the feeling we got whilst in the house…an emotional decision.

    so after all is said and done, why is it that all UK house builders cannot understand this? that by building boxy mean rabbit hutches with dark and dingy rooms, small windows, and mean corridors that they are depriving so many people of a decent living standard. and these are things that can be done to any house, dont even start talking about the eco features that these houses have…

    i guess the ony thing to say is that as long as people keep buying the mass produced rubbish of volume housebuilders, then that is what is going to keep getting built.

    the most depressing thing is that when i tried to get a mortgage or house insurance for our new house, many banks and insurers were unwilling to lend or insure the home, as they didnt understand the construction and were concerned that the homes would not hold their value or would be somehow ‘easy to break into’…despite these homes being compliant with secure by design and have better fire rating than a traditional brick and block construction…ignorance rears its ugly head yet again in the quest of decent housing for normal people in UK.

    the construction used in these houses has been proven in germany and scandinavia for donkeys years and yet here in UK we are treating it as if its something to be marvelled at…if it werent for the new Code for Sustainable Homes i doubt if we would ever catch up with the rest of the world, so again legislation has a big part to play in forcing housebuilders to get their act together.

    anyway, we have been living in our house quite happily since then and wouldnt swap it for the world…and yes, we have not had to switch on our heating yet, whilst all my colleagues have had to fire up their radiators…so the eco thingies must be working.

    finally some wishful thinking …some day all houses will be made this way?

  • We moved into our Oxley Woods house in the summer of 2008. We bought into it for many of the same reasons as Rick above, we wanted something unique, different, we can’t stand the run-of-the-mill brick build boxes, mock this and that that spring up all over the place, and we couldn’t pursue the self build dream that we really wanted to (yet!).

    Unfortunately, it’s fair to say that while we love the area, the look and feel of the houses and the estate, our property has been plagued with problems including several cases of rain water leaking in through windows and walls, and we’re still finding more months after taking occupancy!

    Hopefully things will improve, but it truly does feel like life on the “bleeding edge” of home ownership!

  • to a new vision

  • Bob

    The lack of good design that rick deckard laments has much to do with the way in which many architects approach small residential projects. Small, cost-effective, livable residential units require too much engineering elegance while offering too little ego-gratification. Add in sustainability, and the problem gets worse. Too often, architect-designed houses show too little attention to the construction details and require a lot of costly on-site troubleshooting. The leaky windows Paul complains about are the result. Some of the details that need attention bring together high levels of annoyance with high levels of apparent triviality, and are just what ego-driven creative types would rather overlook. This inattention to boring details raises costs and makes such designs unattractive to builders.
    For a house design to be cost effective, it has to be reproducible in fairly large numbers, leading to either too much monolithic repetitiveness on one site or too-scattered commonness on many sites. It’s humble design work, especially when, on top of the usual aesthetic and livability concerns, one has to create houses that are cheap and idiot proof, since low-end residential construction is often done by relatively inexperienced workers. Working with less money and less space demands a more nit-picking, fussy problem-solving creativity while striving for simple elegance.
    Admittedly, there’s a lot of foot-dragging to contend with from lenders, building inspectors, and insurers, but this resistance can often be overcome with an impressive show of homework and documentation that demonstrates that similar construction and design techniques and principles have been employed elsewhere, and have proven sound. This is the kind of research a good grad student could do part-time, but it’s generally ignored, except in narrow technical terms. Relatively conservative construction environments also call for less flamboyant envelope-pushing, too.
    Designers of affordable housing should ask themselves whether they’d want their less-well-off parents or children living in what they design, not only with regard to how well the design fulfills the human spirit, but also in consideration of those durability and maintenance concerns that can make a house a nightmare.

  • Unfortunately, it appears there are several inherent faults with the design and construction of the window and surrounds.

    A year in, and we’re still leaking, and the house builders are still struggling to get things resolved long term.

  • Initially I was excited about this project especially since it has got Richard Rogers' name on it and also because it is only a 2 hour drive from where I live but after hearing all the complaints about these buildings (from people in this forum and elsewhere) I have to say that I have been put off and I am actually a little disappointed. However, I suppose anything that attempts to help the planet should be welcomed.