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A month ago, I visited a stunning housing complex at Staiths South Bank (SSB), Gateshead. Mine visited SSB to see what is Building for Life 12 (BfL12) criteria was implemented in real, which is mentioning:

Integration into the neighbourhood 

1. Connections

It is about around 15 minutes drive from Newcastle city centre. There are two main gates to access inside the housing. (fg.1)

2. Facilities and service

Located in a strategic range, only takes less than 10 minutes to reach health care, supermarket, churches, community centre also a primary school (fg.2). 

3. Public transport 

SSB has great support accessible by public transport bus (fg.3 & fg. 4). However, mass transport options are limited, whereas there are mature neighbourhoods around there.

4. Meeting local housing requirements

It is consist of 760 houses with the mix-houses type: apartment and home (fg.5). It is suitable for elderly living in medium-density, low-level floor house height, and compact with the landscape (fg.6).  

Creating a place

5. Character

The designer has a concept to create a unique character house building by no two looks the same, with various material and colour that aimed to help dwellers to recognize their home (fg.7)

 6. Working with the site and its context

It has specific contextual site related to heritage landmark coal bridge of “Dunston Staiths”. The SSB’s site in contoured land, with beautiful ambience natural landscape face to banks of Tyne river (fg.8). It is good to deliver accessibility to meet with the contextual environment (fg.9).

7. Creating well-defined street and space

The housing clusters in “U” shape unity configuration, with inner-court that create communal space. The front house is facing to the street orientation among the cluster, helps to surveillance each other (fg.11).  

8. Easy to find your way around 

Cluster module in a row seems similar, feels losing orientation when moving around (fg.10). Some road networks are cul-de-sac, cannot deliver the visitor to find way well (also see fg.11)

Street and home 

9. Street for all 

Clear separated pedestrian and vehicle. Elderly and infant dwellers are safe to walking around to the park and playground (fg.12). Although divided, there are still have a potential accident that caused by vehicles movement.

10. Car parking

The dweller and visitor parking cars are mixing near homes, are disturbing the visual inner-court, which is that supposed to be calm and clean (fg.13). However, this placement is proper to control by the owner. 

11. Public and private space 

the pedestrian line was creating house territory in visual that makes the privacy area was clear (fg.14).  In addition, cannot recognize the collective public building for social community activity, but there are public spaces (park) inside the clusters (fg. 15)

12. External storage and amenity space.

Open external communal sewages are available to control housing and environmental hygienic. Easy to collect by truck.(fg. 16)


Building for Life 12. (2018). [pdf] Available at: [Accessed 26 February 2020].

Hemingway Design. (2013) [website] Available at: [Accessed 28 February 2020].

Staiths South Bank. (2009). [pdf] Available at: [Accessed 1 March 2020].

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School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509


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