Ivor Cunningham


The inspiration for this housing scheme was the scale and number of large trees scattered over the site and particularly a row of majestic Cedars of Lebanon dominating the open ground across the middle of the site. The furthest part of the site, about a third of the area, was a wood sloping down to a man-made water course, Broad Water. This area has been left intact, apart from cutting a ‘ride’ down the slope to give a glimpse of water from the housing area.

It seemed inappropriate to design right angled buildings in rectangular courts, as such an arrangement would be totally out of scale with the magnificent trees. Instead we have produced a free-form layout where space flows and dissolves around the groups of dwellings, avoiding straight lines and fixed axial vistas. The overall fonns of the buildings, walls, roads and footpaths take up and continue this theme. Every item from house to kerb has its place in the landscape design and lawns, tree and shrub planting draws these together into a unified composition. The landscape of Templemere was a major factor in receiving a Housing Medal and a Civic Trust Award.


The layout

Having started together at the entrance, the road and footpath take independent routes through the site, coming together by visitors’ car parking areas and then separating to go around planting areas or the houses.

The centre of the site has been kept clear as a treed lawn stretching as far as the woodland and slightly contoured to hide or diminish the visual impact of road or path. The side boundaries, where exposed, have been heavily planted to isolate neighbouring housing sites and the road serving the houses on the south east boundary was transformed into a ‘country lane’.


Landscape materials

A number of existing silver birches were removed and successfully planted at the site entrance to provide for early maturity.

In contrast to the many existing dark green conifers and dark brick walls, the major new tree planting was of robinias, particularly robinia frisia with its yellow-green leaves, and japanese larch, larix kaempferi, with sea-green needles.

Adjoining the ‘pavilion’ houses are sculptural plants displayed on carpets of ground covers, which take up the geometry of the houses and extended as far as the main footpaths. In other cases, planting acts as a foil to building form, contain particular views, obscure boundaries or to impose visual and physical barriers.

Hard surfaces and materials have been carefully chosen for landscape as well as practical purposes. Kerbs are made of granite setts to give a muted edge to roads and footpaths are of exposed aggregate concrete, which can be formed into any shape or pattern and quickly settles down to a gravelly appearance.

Templemere houses
© Templemere Residents’ Society Ltd 2010