In place of those horrible white boxes…

Image: © Paul Riddle

It's clear that Britain needs many more new homes. There are too few to go round, and another housing bubble is expanding as prices rise for those that are.

Inevitably that will involve new housing developments on greenfield sites. Not a disaster, I think, as long as the new houses that are built have some aesthetic appeal.

Unfortunately most new builds are quite extraordinarly dull. White pebbledashed cubes, absurdly large, packed together in sterile rows, inevitably referencing a tired mock-Tudor vernacular.

It's 2013. The most innovative city centre architecture looks to the future: consider for example, here in Edinburgh, the Scottish Parliament building, and more recently the Quartermile development by the Meadows. There's no reason ordinary housing shouldn't be just as interesting.

The Newhall Be scheme in Harlow is a most welcome exception: I was glad to read it's been nominated for the 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize.

Image: © Paul Riddle

These designs look forward, not backwards. They have novel shapes, an unusual colour scheme, and big windows letting in the light. I concede that the gardens are very small. But thoughtful layout of the surrounding houses allows them plenty of light.

How interesting it would be, I think, if our countryside was dotted with these kinds of developments rather than the gruesome 'collections' of white boxes we've come to tolerate.

You can find out more on the scheme's RIBA nomination page and the Newhall Project website.

Image: © Paul Riddle