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Steepleton, Tetbury:

Later Living accommodation inspired by historic Cotswolds almshouses

Contract value:
£23 million
Tetbury, Gloucestershire
Project status:
Housing Design Awards, HAPPI Award, 2019
Housing Design Awards, Project Winner, 2015

Steepleton the Tetbury Retirement Community, situated within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is informed by local historic Cotswold farmsteads and almshouses. The residential buildings are clustered at a comfortable domestic scale around a series of open courtyards. This courtyard model seeks to provide elderly residents with a sense of identity and security, and encourage the establishment of small community groupings within the wider framework of the care village.

The development contains 113 Later Living one and two bed apartments arranged within each two-storey cluster, with larger maisonettes positioned above ground floor apartments. The self contained units contain living space, private kitchens and bathrooms, alongside generous private outdoor space and external storage. Sliding walls within each apartment offer greater spatial flexibility for adaptation as residents’ circumstances change. The maisonettes make full use of the roof void to enhance day lighting into each dwelling, and boost the sense of space within units by the incorporation of a double height space.

A key element is the ‘ambulatory’ - a cloistered walkway at ground and first floor levels around each courtyard. This is conceived not merely as a way of circulating through each cluster but provides generous space with seating areas for residents to meet, relax and interact. Architecturally this stacked arcade breaks up the courtyard elevations and delivers an animated street frontage to the public realm.

A taller barn-like structure at the heart of the site - the ‘village hall’ - contains communal facilities including a large dining area and residents’ lounge, care and therapy provision, IT facilities and an exercise room. This building frames a central communal court and external swimming pond focus. Outside there are landscaped gardens and allotments. Staff areas are also arranged at the core of the site.

The contemporary interpretation of historic farmstead or almshouse forms is enhanced with careful detailing that sustains references to local vernacular buildings. Dormers, projecting bays and balcony hoods create a coherent yet varied architectural language to the streetscape of courtyard typologies. Chimneys for wood burning stoves and pronounced ‘twin gable’ façade composition echo the vernacular forms of the Cotswold vernacular and Arts and Crafts tradition. Cotswold stone is used for ground level facades with a lime wash coloured render above and stone boundary walls visually unite the courtyards and help to nurture a sense of protection and enclosure.