Members meeting with the architects. Our members' interpretation of Homes For Ulverston (H4US) Values, knowledge of needs for wheelchair users and general lively ideas wowed Halliday Meecham Architects.

Our core values

“There is no wealth but life” John Ruskin

  • At the heart of our group values is respect and care for ourselves, other people, and the environment and other species. We recognise that these are ‘one and the same’ for example, healthy people cannot exist without a healthy environment in which to live.
  • We value equality and diversity of both ourselves and other species. This means the fair sharing `of resources according to true need and a non-profit based approach to economics. It also means ensuring that everyone in the community has ‘a voice’ and their needs are met.
  • We value our local heritage and character, whilst welcoming change, creativity and innovation. A balance between being informed by the past but being open to the future.

We recognise that these values operate at different scales and seek to take responsibility for our actions from a local to global scale.

We will create specific policies to ensure that these values inform how the project develops on the ground e.g. an environmental management system/policy.

Our values in action

In this section we aim to explain how our values might be interpreted ‘on the ground’.

The design of site and dwellings

  • Creating affordable homes by taking the power into the hands of the local community and bypassing market forces, as controlled by developers and other profit motivated organisations.
  • Rigorous standards in terms of carbon footprint, energy usage, low waste (cradle to cradle approach), both in the materials and production process used and in the lifetime of the dwelling or structure.
  • Seeking to improve the site as a habitat for other species through preservation and creation of landscape features and new planting/rewilding.
  • Creating both indoor and outdoor space for community interaction, celebration, play etc
  • Taking cues from existing local design and traditional building materials, balanced with use of new design and modern or recycled materials.
  • Healthy spatial design based on the character and microclimate of the specific site.
  • Avoiding homogeneity (or ‘sameness’), allowing individual choice, whilst an overall aesthetic (or ‘look’) that hangs together.
  • Building quality dwellings that will last well and need minimal maintenance

The process of development

  • Working together in a way that reflects our values, for example respecting each other and our diversity of opinions/life experiences, and taking responsibility for ourselves as individuals and awareness of the line between our true ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. Recognising that we are part of a greater ‘ecosystem’ and that our individual needs must be balanced with the harmony of the whole.
  • Seeking to represent a wide range of views and use power structures that ensure all are represented, including the wider community. This might mean having a range of decision making approaches to hand (such as representational voting, consensus techniques) and selection of the most appropriate on a case by case basis.
  • Taking a balanced approach to decision making, that allows for both intuition and logic, pragmatism and idealism.
  • Developing the site at an appropriate pace that allows time to work how our values can be most effectively reflected.

Who we work with

  • Assessing the suitability of offers of funding and/or support from external organisations through the ‘lens’ of our values. Establishing a step by step process for deciding whether a partnership is appropriate.
  • Ensuring that there is ethical alignment when choosing companies to work with or to supply materials.

Our philosophical ‘tool box’

As well as creating specific policies we will borrow from the following approaches and philosophies to help us put our values into action:

Permaculture Design which seek to mimic the intelligence of natural systems to design sustainable settlements and livelihoods. Based on a set of ethics that mirrors ours and a set of principles which can be used as tools in design of both how we work together and what we build.

Alexander’s pattern design – Architect Christopher Alexander suggested that most design problems occur many times over. There can be a number of solutions. The user must apply their values, ways of living, to the pattern of solutions that exists and is articulated by language which falls into patterns through exposure in use. In this way the same patterns can deliver many varied, bespoke solutions.

Modern Ecology – a relational approach to ecology that includes the built and social environment. This recognises that human beings are part of ‘nature’ and therefore ‘man-made’ things must be part of ecological thinking. The boundaries between ourselves and the environment are blurred, for example, our bodies are constantly taking on external elements through the food we eat and the air we breathe. Recognising the health of the whole ecosystem.

Environmental management systems – (the process that will guide us in implementing our Environmental Policy). We shall undertake a scoping exercise covering everything we own and everything we do, identifying and measuring, where possible, our impact on site, locally and globally. We shall decide how to reduce our impact and set aims, objectives and targets. We shall monitor, measure, record and publish our progress against our targets and we shall note where improvements can be made on our performance, by applying what we have learned to future activity.

“In nature’s economy the currency is not money, it is life” Vandana Shiv