HARP Southend's Bluebird
Winner AJ awards for Housing Projects 2023
Architect - SKArchitects
Roofing merchants - All Type Specialist Roofing Suppliers
Contractors – Seeco
Photography by Billy Haynes from Miru3D
Bluebird is a small new supported HARP housing project for people experiencing homelessness in Southend, which aims to get residents back into independent living.
The plot for this project was tight, surrounded on all sides by residential houses, and would have had limited appeal for commercial developers due to the lack of parking space. SKArchitects had worked previously with HARP, Southend’s homeless charity, on another housing project and had a clear understanding of their objective to provide high quality spaces and environments which allow homeless people to feel safe and able to move forward with their lives. Both SKArchitects and HARP were keen to create a high quality scheme that would lift the area and be both sympathetic and holistic for both residents and neighbours alike.
Bluebird consists of 6 new Passivehaus Certified houses in a simple long linear form in Bluebird Walk. The houses are clad in vertical Dreadnought clay roof tiles, using different coloured clay tiles to create some individuality for the individual mews houses. Dreadnought worked together with SKAarchitects, HARP and a local ceramicist Madelaine Hanman-Murphy to create 500 bespoke “debossed” tiles which will incorporate clay “roundels” to be made in local workshops under the guidance of Madelaine, by both HARP residents and local community members. These roundels will become a lasting piece, representing each maker’s idea of home and they will be added to the building and attached to the “debossed” tiles over time, adding a very personal touch to the scheme and at the same time raising valuable funds for HARP’s Bluebird appeal.
4 different colours of Dreadnought clay tiles were used for this project and the special bespoke debossed tiles were made in each of the colours. A circular shape about 3mm deep was carefully cut into each tile while the clay was still soft. It was important to get the depth right so that the roundels do not sit too proud of the facade and the integrity of the tiles is not compromised. As well as using a range of Dreadnought colours, SKArchitects have mixed both sanded and smooth clay tiles on the same property, mixing them in well, and while it is not a common practice, it has worked well and added even more interest and texture to the façade.