CREATIVE and trail-blazing architects in south Essex have been shortlisted for an award highlighting their work to create modern and sustainable new homes.

The Bluebird housing development, in Southend, and Beechwood Village, in Basildon have been shortlisted for the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects for their architectural talent and their innovative features.

The Bluebird, in Southchurch Avenue, designed by SkArchitects based in Southend, is a set of six modular houses which have been commissioned by Harp to provide ultra-efficient, low energy yet inviting homes for homeless and vulnerable people in the city.

SkArchitects director Steven Kearney, 54, said: “This is a huge accolade, there are few buildings that are fortunate enough to get this award.

“This is not just for housing people, it is to get them a quality space to make them feel valued. I do think the sense of home and feeling valued is important and we did that for a low cost with low energy and in a small space.

“Adding colour costs nothing.

“The houses are called ‘passive houses’, they are airtight houses with minimal energy output, highly insulated four times more than the standard building.

“Air losses are exponentially different with a standard house than with a passive house and the money saved on energy allows Harp to better spend on keeping people off the streets.”

Mr Kearney added that the ethos underpinning the six, innovative homes is to design spaces which make “people feel value and provide the least impact on the environment”.

“It’s been five years working on this from start to finish and we have worked with them for ten years. We are very pro-Southend.”

The Bluebird has been a major award winner, winning the Inside Housing Development Awards 2023, AJ Architecture Awards Housing Project 2023 and the Essex Housing Awards Excellence in Design award 2023.

Also shortlisted is the Beechwood Village, designed by Pollard Thomas Edwards, an ambitious redevelopment of the Craylands Estate in Basildon to bring more than 250 houses to those on moderate incomes.

The modular homes are factory-built and delivered, a major innovation that allows people to design their homes online from a range of options ranging from number of bedrooms to the type of brick work.

Potential buyers have the option to design their homes via an online configurator, where they can select their plot, choose their preferred house type, number of bedrooms, amend how their house is constructed and even add bays and extensions.

Justin Laskin, Partner at PTE said: “We are thrilled that the project and community developing here has been recognised with an RIBA award nomination.

“Beechwood Village is an incredibly ambitious project, pushing resident customisation to a new scale in the UK.”