Individual needs and Community cohesion - Getting the balance right

Balancing the needs of an expanding population, both in terms of space and technological innovation, with the richness of patterns, form and narratives of the past is not always an easy en devour for those of us practicing Architecture. Recently we submitted a proposal for a loft extension in which was met with fervor opposition from the neighbors, eventually leading us to withdraw the application to begin redesigning. Inevitably all architecture will have an impact on the  community in which it is built, some for better others for worse.  Ultimately all architecture helps shape the future narrative about our collective identity, our combined aesthetic ideas of what constitutes 'good design' and  the values and principles we embody as a community. We aimed to fulfill  the client spacial and aesthetic desires along with the local authorities expectations, fully laden with the weight of bureaucracy and cultural expectations about how we honor past examples of good design. In considering this outcome one comment stood out "If we had been consulted beforehand we would have made our feeling clear about our concerns!"  Admittedly we did not speak to the neighbors prior to submission, instead relying on the little yellow public notice to fulfill our obligation to let them know what we were up to. Could this impersonal, informal nature of the public notification  been the cause of the hostility? maybe we should have sent letters to the neighbors inviting them into the design process? or maybe it was indeed simply too much for the people and place at this moment in time? If we are to make architecture that speaks of its time yet respectful of its rich history, then surely it must be rooted in open constructive communication between all parties affected? Here's to good communication and getting the balance right in the end!

 A Proposal for a rear loft extension within a historic Victorian terrace, now back on the drawing board!

A Proposal for a rear loft extension within a historic Victorian terrace, now back on the drawing board!