Urban design strategy

Pre-industrial settlements in the UK were generally organised around home-based work. People continued to work at home throughout the industrial revolution, but complex social, political, economic and technological developments encouraged a gradual spatial separation of dwelling and workplace through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In particular the development of processes of mass production increased the number of people working in factories and reduced the size of the home-based workforce.

The UK home-based workforce is, however, growing rapidly again in the twenty-first century. The number of people working mainly from home doubled between 1991 and 2001. It is now estimated that a quarter of the overall working population of the UK now either lives at their workplace or works at or from home for at least one day a week.    But we do not design our cities around this working practice.

Social isolation and lack of exercise are two of the main disadvantages of home-based work. City, towns and viilages could be designed to alleviate this; there are many historic precedents. Possible urban strategies to explore include:

•The urban block that includes a social/ exercise function, such as allotments or a running track

•The urban block with semi-private residential entrances in the centre and workplace entrances on the street

•The linear court

•The mews

•The street with rear workplace entrances accessed through intermediate passages in the street

These strategies could be developed around any of the urban forms, i.e. detached, semi-detached, terraced, maisonette workhomes or blocks of multiple workhomes.

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