The Craneshaugh Cohousing Design

In the process of designing cohousing this site of Hexham, I had a lot of experience to share.

Hexham is a beautiful city which basically has both historical buildings and constructions with British modern architectures. People who living there are friendly and their income is shortly over the average level. Senior age level group of residents are about 20 percent, and this is a large occupation of population. This craneshaugh site, has a tricky typography with 13 meters height difference from north to south side, and it is not a flat ground from east to west. The Cockwood land actually became a shadow of sunlight on the south side of the site, and public transportation there are not very convenient.


source: Hexham (UK) Nothumberland postcode +NE46/@54.968475,-2.0725046,395m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x487d90620d319815:0xa83a2b78210dc004


Before we started, I have no idea of what is cohousing. In my cultural background, we have affordable housing for rent to those people who have needs, and they need to que for sign to live in those houses, besides, the form of these kind of housing are apartments. So after the visit of Lancaster cohousing site, me and my colleague finally get some point of the definition of cohousing, and agree deeply of this form of housing will largely enhance the opportunity of social interaction.




After the baseline analysis presentation, my partner got much more information about Hexham, such as social economic and historical background, and about cohousing, too. So based on those information we had, we decide to utilize this typography to have its unique identity, and also for mixed type of housing.






So we beginning to think out the appropriate road system, right housing types, and the most important, the unique typography that can contain these together.

After some tutorials, we finally made some progress that we will use blocks with natural way of roads to form a different neighborhood. Of course, we also designed large and small open and green spaces that may connect the different communities together as a whole, and share those facilities for making more social interaction of the whole site. We like to make residents love to live this kind of neighborhood, and getting more support from each other.




I have learnt a lot of things from my partner, and also from this program. Team work and hard working fulfilled this semester.

Trip To Lancaster Cohousing


On the trip to Lancaster, all I know about cohousing is like a kind of affordable housing that contributed by some social organizations. But when we got and had a chat with people who living in there, I had a feeling that all of those residents are like a big family, they choose to live there not just because of lower rent, they also share different facilities and resources, and have much more social communication with each other than the modern neighborhoods that we are living now. After the quick browse of different function of rooms, for example, kids’ room, laundry room, we made ourselves a great meal in the big common house. A lot of residents came to share the food, and they are so familiar with each other.


The most interesting thing is that I found out they have a food store that you can buy some seasoner, and residents share the duty by writing on a board. This is one of the ways to getting more foundation to develop the community.


Also, in another building, we were showed some large space workshop, offices, art and music studios, etc. This building is funded by the company named Green Elephant. A lot of people can actually work and enjoy themselves by using the amazing facilities and rooms, and they pay some rent, which can be another way that contribute to development. The atmosphere is quiet and full of creation.



For the space that I looked, they share some parking spaces before the river, and the front yards are giving by very narrow space for putting stuff, but their back yard is beautiful and open, they can put the children toys on the ground, and the fences you can hardly see. When we looked at the inside of one of the houses, the space of living room and bedroom are quite enough and comfortable. They also have terraces for first floor and outdoor platform on ground floor to enjoy the air and nature which have contained the privacy and public needs in every houses.


I have learnt a lot of cohousing by this trip, and I will use these experience into our cohousing project.

Images took by Yun Zhang, 2015

Colorful Village Project – Study Cases


After all the site analysis completed, the design process will begin. The Selection of some study cases which meets the requirements is one of the process. Study cases are expected to help the designer to develop an empty land that has been given into a complete housing neighborhood design.

In this study cases, we observe two important things that we think are useful for further design process. The first is the layout of the housing group itself and the corner of the housing group that often become a problem if not thought out carefully.

The Staiths, Gateshead


Source :

From the case the study above, the thing that attract my attention is about how they create a layout for the housing group. The way chosen by the designer is y arranging few houses become a U-shape as shown above because here is no unit in its southern part. By doing this way, there are two things that can happen.

1. Each unit of this grouping can get the same light intensity because sunlight will be more to come from the south. Thus, the use of the heater will be reduced and the room becomes not too humid.

2. There is an empty land in that area of ‘U’ grouping which can be used as an open public space. The place can not only be used by residents, but also by the people that are around.

Pilot Project, Guatemala

PrintSource :

For this case study from Guatemala, the interesting thing to be noted is about the way they design a linear housing. In this case, they do not  normal linier housing, but they shift each unit in the grouping to one side as illustrated above.

In this way, every unit in that housing linear housing can get the same light intensity. In contrast to the usual conventional linier housing that the front row unit are the only unit which can get full sunlight.

Brownhills, West Midlands

 PrintSource :

Lastly, designing each corner of a housing group is not an easy thing. Sometimes, we need a special strategy for that part if we does not want to get any problems later on.

From the case study in the West Midlands, the strategy they do to every corner of the housing group is making the unit into an access and service area. A gate that can be used by every person to access the backyard of any units.

rom all of those study cases that have been described above, help us to improve our design to the next stage.After this, we get into the actual design. From the concept to the final design. I will try to describe in my next post. However, I have to wait because there is still a possibility of changes. After the final design accepted by the tutor, I will share it here for the discussion that helps us to make a better final design.


CABE (n.d) Staiths South Bank – Gateshead [online] Available at: photos=true&viewing=4437 [ACCESSED 25th March 2015]

ADU 2020 Pilot Projects (n.d) Social Housing As A Response Towards Worthy Housing [online] Available at: [Accessed 25th March 2015]

Brownhills Bob (2012) New Homes Planned for Brownhills [online] Available at:  [Accessed 25th March 2015]

The Ways To Design a House In Sloping Site


One of the challenges we have to face when designing a housing on the site in Hexham is the condition of the site which is not flat. Site is a hill that starts from the northern site near the main road and goes up to the south. Therefore, we try to figure out how to design a house on the sloping site.

Before talking about the ways to overcome a site that is not flat, the figure below tries to explain the situations which is possible to be faced when making a home on the site. There are 4  possibilities i.e. down slope, up slope, side slope and rolling slope. All these possibilities are clearly explained in the image below.

TYPE OF CONDITIONAll people that work in any field certainly understand that a home should be made as flat as possible. Therefore, before starting the construction process, the contractors and designers have to think about what they should do with the sloping site. Perhaps, for the architects, this is a basic knowledges that already known by them, but this information may be useful to other colleagues who are not from architecture. Those ways are cut, fill and cut & fill.


CUTCut is a way of leveling the land where a house / building will be constructed by cutting the area of the land. Furthermore, to prevent the soil in the landslide, a retaining wall have to made in order to hold back the soil.


FILLThe opposite of the cut, fill is a way to level the land by filling the area with concrete or other materials. It is like creating a new platform in order to flatten the surface of the area so that a house can be built.



CUT & FILLCut & Fill is a combination of those two ways mentioned above. if we want to apply this way, we have to cut some area of the land and add it on the other side.

These 3 ways would have a different impact. All depends on site conditions, the concept of design and budget owned by the owner. When we talk about the price, “Fill” will cost higher than the 2 other because “Fill” needs more extra material. However, “Fill” could be the best option if the designer wants the house is in a higher position than the ground in order to get a view. This kind of thing can happen in other ways as well. Therefore, designers should think seriously before deciding which way that want to be used so that the selected method is good for all parties.



First In Architecture (2015) Tips for building on a sloped terrain [online] Available at:  [Accessed 1st March 2015]

Home Building (n.d) how to build on sloping site  [online] Available at:  [Accessed 1st March 2015]

Albermarle (n.d) The neighborhood model: building block for the development area [online] Available at:  [Accessed 1st March 2015]

Tweed Shire Council, n.d. Together Forward, Australia