Early September ImaginationLancaster from Lancaster University and Lancaster City Council came together to collaborate in a personalised engagement with the residents of the Mainway Estate. This was an exciting opportunity to talk with every resident, and we had a fantastic response from people who shared their personal experiences of their day-to-day living experiences. We were surprised by the positive experience, which brought together the motivations and main reasons why we wanted to talk with everyone.
Mainway Estate was designed and built in a time where modern architecture and the brutalism were at the centre of the architectural design, prioritising the function above all. This came with a great school of thought where the exterior should reflect the use of the building, and the Mainway Estate is not the exception. These buildings were built to make a statement, with an impressive architectural design and the right balance between the built environment, surrounding greenery, countryside and river. However, with the changes in the built environment towards more energy-efficient buildings, perhaps drawn due to climate concerns, we realise some of the drawbacks of this architecture.
Brutalist architecture came to make a statement, as opposed with concerns for running and energy costs. Nowadays, sustainable home design is at the centre of the architectural process and Lancaster City Council aims to bring it to their council housing and improve the life quality of the many, but in a very particular way. They want their current residents to tell them what they want, rather than going back to the solutions of the past. This point is rather important, especially when making renovation projects with existing residents; their engagement is the key to the success of the project. They are the experts living in the area.