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Homes: Design your dream home with Urban Splash

Advertisement Feature: Thanks to an innovative online configurator homeowners will be able to design their dream dwellings at an exciting new development in Northstowe. Louise Cummings finds out more from Jonathan Falkingham MBE, creative director of House by Urban Splash

Why did you choose Inholm at Northstowe for the first House by Urban Splash semi-detached Townhouse?

“There’s no better place for us to be building for the first time in the south (and East of England) than in Cambridgeshire as it’s at the centre of innovation and doing things differently. We’re hoping to fit right in with our innovative homebuilding and passion for great design and appeal to a wide range of new people who I’m sure will love our homes as much as our existing homeowners do. Northstowe is also a great location for sustainable transport links into Cambridge and beyond.

How will this development of 406 homes enhance the area?

We are really passionate about creating places that fit with the wider local area and are part of the local history. At Inholm we’ve looked at the landscape of the fens and tried to bring that to life through the new landscape and some of the colours we’ve used on the exterior of the buildings, for example.

It’s an ‘urban village’ which is also unique to the local area. It will sit alongside the new town centre when it’s developed, next door to the secondary school campus. So, along with well-designed homes, and state-of-the-art construction I think it will enhance what is already on offer for homebuyers in Cambridgeshire both in terms of look and feel, location and style of living.

What makes House by Urban Splash properties so unique?

We believe that every person deserves access to great design and that customers should have more choice. So all our homes are designed by award-winning architects and, for example, our semi-detached Town House is configurable on the inside offering a huge amount of choice for layouts, it also has oversized windows and impressively high ceilings which maximise the natural light and create a sense of openness for homeowners.

Our homes are also very energy efficient because we use Modern Methods of Construction. They are built in our factory via a ‘modular’ method which means they are built in completed ‘modules’ with kitchens and bathrooms fitted before being brought to the site and craned into place with a few final touches once in situ. Our range of homes is also built to exacting sustainability standards, with high-quality insulation and a meticulous construction method bringing long-term energy and cost-saving benefits to homeowners.

House by Urban Splash offers an online configurator – what kind of living options does that give?

Homebuyers can explore dozens of layouts, as well as virtually experimenting with material finishes, creating different spaces and changing the position of kitchens, living areas and bedrooms. There are dozens of options if you overlay all these elements. The main options are choosing loft living or garden living, how many bedrooms you need, open plan or separate living rooms. This means having the same size home as the neighbours but having a layout that suits your own living style. For example, you may prefer cosy nooks, loft views and an office or an open plan family space with garden access for everyone to enjoy.

Award-winning architects including George Clarke and RIBA award-winning shedkm and Proctor & Matthews have partnered with House on design. How is this reflected in the properties?

Every aspect of House has been designed in partnership with award-winning architects; it’s a point of difference that we offer to customers as we want to give them an architect-designed home without the costs and complexities of their own self-build processes. Shedkm is our long term partners who have helped us design and evolve the original Town House product - including the new semi-detached version which is coming first exclusively to Inholm. But of course, we welcome many design influences in our work and are open to collaboration, that’s why we have partnered with other architects including George Clarke and Proctor & Matthews. We also use exceptional masterplanners, architects and landscape designers to help us create distinctive, people-centred neighbourhoods.

House is backed by Sekisui House – the world’s largest and most sustainable housebuilder. Can you tell us more?

We wanted to build wonderful, well-designed homes in larger numbers than is currently happening in the UK. We already had experience of this method of building but we joined forces with Sekisui House to capitalise on their world-leading talent in this area.

We have a shared vision for great design, great homes and placemaking for everyone so we combined our ideas and systems to create something bespoke for the UK market. We have an R&D centre at the factory where we are continually looking at how we can improve our products, bringing a wealth of Japanese know-how and modular design experience to every single home we build.

What plans have you to create ‘distinctive new neighbourhoods built around character, green spaces and a sense of community’?

For us, to be a successful neighbourhood, Inholm needs to fulfil more than just housing needs. Whilst we can’t build a ready-made community from scratch, we want Inholm to have a sense of openness and community and a design that encourages interaction and play. You will see this through some of the wider built aspects as Inholm develops such as ‘pocket parks’, art and shared spaces, for example, and connectivity through cycle routes and pedestrian links spreading out to the surrounding new neighbourhoods, the planned neighbouring town centre, and beyond into Cambridge City itself.

Urban Splash has helped to regenerate and transform various forgotten places across the country. Do you have a favourite project?

My co-founder Tom Bloxham and I are always asked this question, and it’s so hard to choose as each project has its own special appeal. Plus they’re so different; we’ve regenerated architecture of every typology, from 18th Century Listed Naval buildings to Victorian mills and warehouses, to terraced homes - even to 90s commercial architecture - and now of course House. The easiest answer is for me to say my favourite project is the next one!”

Sales of the first 43 Town House homes will be launched this autumn at Inholm, at which point prices will be unveiled. Find out more and register your interest at housebyurbansplash.co.uk

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