Erskine's Millennium Village
The light and spacious Scandinavian interior design features full-height windows and some double-height rooms. Occupants can customize their apartments with sliding interior walls.
Although there were no legal targets for a self-sustaining community, the developers decided to apply their own. These include a reduction in energy use by 80 percent and water consumption by 30 percent. A gray-water cycling system stores drained rainwater to flush toilets.
Thirty to 40 percent of the wood and aluminum construction waste was recycled. Phelan reports: "This equates to about £4,000 per unit, which has surprised a lot of people."
The architects selected materials for their green credentials. The concrete frame provides a thermal mass, reducing energy consumption. Aluminum was chosen for its recyclability and long life.
The cedar for rain screens was obtained from sustainably harvested sources and has an excellent maintenance record. These cedar louvers are also sun shades and windbreaks, and they provide the gardens with visual privacy.
Erskine and EPR designed the structures to take maximum advantage of climatic factors. The buildings were purposely shaped and positioned to moderate the effect of easterly winds and to make full use of the sun for both light and heat.
The 80 percent reduction in energy is achieved through a combination of local electricity generation, improved insulation, and energy-efficient devices for the apartments.
To generate its own power locally, the village uses a combined heat and power (CHP) system, which provides central heating, hot water, and electricity. Greenwich Millennium Village is the first UK private housing development to incorporate CHP.
Phelan explains that being innovative has its drawbacks. "Some of the solutions," he says, "are a compromise between pure technical efficiency and development financing constraints. But the built-in future proofing will enable upgrades to incorporate new technologies as they are introduced."
The Master Plan
Erskine's master plan for the Greenwich Millennium Village is not just residential. It also includes a community center, a primary school, a health center, shops, cafes, bars, and offices. The village, covering 72 acres (29 hectares), is grouped in communities around a large village green and an artificially created lake, with links to the river and the rest of the Greenwich Peninsula via "green" corridors.
Located on the eastern side of the peninsula, the village will eventually comprise 1377 homes — 1079 apartments and 298 houses — as well as approximately 54,000 square feet (5000 square meters) of commercial space, all of which will be linked through a local communications network.
Greenwich Millennium Village began in 1999 when its developers, Countryside Properties and Taylor Woodrow, won the international competition for its development with Erskine's visionary designs. It falls within the larger Richard Rogers master plan for the former derelict Greenwich Peninsula, which includes the Millennium Dome, and encompasses design work from EPR, Edward Cullinan, Frankl + Luty, Proctor Matthews as well as the Drottningholm, Sweden-based firm, Erskine Tovatt Architects.
When developers English Partnerships, the British Government's national agency for regeneration and development, took over the peninsula, they asked Richard Rogers to create a complete infrastructure master plan. The developers have spent about £180 million on site preparation, roads, and services.
The plan for the peninsula also includes 50 acres (20 hectares) of parkland, an ecology park, a commercial area, housing, and the opening of ultra-modern transport links to central London. With the Millennium Dome came the underground extension to the Foster and Partners/ Will Alsop-designed North Greenwich bus and underground station.