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Sergison Bates semi-detached, Stevenage, 2000

Semi-detatched typology: a quirky twist in the world of Swiss-influenced minimalism

In 1998, the William Sutton Trust - now part of Affinity Sutton, one of Britain’s biggest housing associations - held a competition to design a prototype semi-detached house for mass production. Sergison Bates’ winning entry was very recognisably a home, albeit one given what passes for a quirky twist in the world of Swiss-influenced minimalism: a tile-clad building split into dark brown and grey halves angled slightly towards one another, with twin pitched roofs. The cambered plan meant that the homes come together at the front door, encouraging socialising on the porch, whereas they face away at the back, fostering privacy: the best of both worlds, perhaps. Inside, the layout was quite traditional, with an almost complete mirroring of floor plans. The building was generously proportioned and very energy efficient - and being constructed from prefabricated units, rapidly erected. In the end, however, the trust decided that it was too expensive to put into mass production, despite winning an award and the approval of its inhabitants.



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