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always dreary, the typical back yard, shut in with walls and outbuildings, is about as sad a spot as one could offer to children for a playground. The coster may keep his barrow there, and the hawker sort his wares; while as open air washhouses something may be said for them. But some of these uses are occasional only, and too much must not be sacrificed for them, while the rest may be met in other ways. It does not seem to be realized that hundreds of thousands of working women spend the bulk of their lives with nothing better to look on than the ghastly prospect offered by these back yards, the squalid ugliness of which is unrelieved by a scrap of fresh green to speak of spring, or a fading leaf to tell of autumn.
How far the improvement of transit facilities and the Town or
solution of the land question would enable the whole of Country.
the dwellers in large towns to be spread out on the basis of about six houses to the acre, as at Bourneville, has yet to be proved. Undoubtedly, whenever at all possible of attainment, the majority of men would accept Mr. Ruskin's ideal of a house : "Not a compartment of a model lodging house, not the number so and so Paradise Row, but a cottage all of our own, with its little garden, its healthy air, its clean kitchen, parlor and bedrooms." Under present conditions in large towns such schemes seem beyond the reach of municipalities. It is the great suburban districts which have to be considered for the present, where, after all, the majority of working folk are housed, neither in the country nor in the city, but between the two: those vast areas filled with streets of houses where it seems impossible to secure for each cottage land enough for a separate garden, where houses are not six to the acre, but four or five times six, or even more.
Some space to each house, however, there must be, Open Space. even in towns. If, instead of being wasted in stuffy
yards and dirty back streets, the space which is available for a number of houses were kept together, it would make quite a respectable square or garden. The cottages could then be grouped round such open spaces, forming quadrangles opening one into the other, with wide streets at intervals. Every house could be planned so that there should be a sunny aspect for the chief rooms, and a pleasant outlook both front and back.* At present it is too often the custom to draw out a cottage plan that will come within a certain space and then repeat it unaltered in street after street, heedless of whether it faces north, south, east or west. Notring more absurd or more regardless of the essential conditions could bo imagined. Every house should be designed to suit its site and its aspect; and this is not less necessary when dealing with small houses built in rows, but more so.
There is something at once homely and dignified about Quadrangle. a quadrangle which gives it a charm even when the
buildings are quite simple and unadorned. There is a sense of unity, of a complete whole, which lifts it out of the commonplace in a manner that nothing can accomplish for a mere street of cottages.f Each square could have some individuality of treatment, the entrances could be utilized to produce some little central feature, and the effect of thus grouping small cottages to produce collectively a larger unit in the street, of a scale capable of assuming some dignity, would be such an improvement as will not readily be realized by any who have not seen what a few simple college quads may do for an otherwise commonplace street. An Oxford or Cambridge college is simply a collection of separate small tenements, built in squares, with some central common buildings. It is undoubtedly the most satisfactory arrangement for numbers of such tenements where the space is limited. In this manner from twenty to thirty houses, according to size, can be arranged to an acre, including streets; and this num. ber should nowhere be exceeded except under very great pressure. Even if it must be exceeded, probably it is better to go up and make extra floors, let in flats, than to curtail the open space. One larger space of ground is more effective than a number of small yards. Squares, such as suggested, would always be sweet and fresh, being open to the sun and large enough to be airy without being draughty.
* See Plate I.
Ť See Plates II. and III.
he distance across, preventing the overlooking of windows, would ensure the essential privacy of the house, in spite of the want of back yards. The space in the centre would allow a few trees to grow, some gardens to be made, and a safe play place for the children to be provided, while it would afford a pleasant and interesting outlook for all the cottages.
In the planning and laying out of these squares it would be well to provide for all sorts of tastes, for it will be easy to get plenty of variety. In some cases the whole square could be filled with allotment gardens let to those who wanted them ; in others the space might be devoted to a broad lawn for tennis or bowls; in some a band of small gardens might surround a children's central playground, and in others a public garden be established ; in some cases there might be a roadway all round the quadrangle, while in others the road might run down the centre with gardens attached to the houses on each side. On some sites it would be possible to get three-sided squares open to the south. Where the cost of land makes it needful to build more than two storeys high it would be a great advantage if on the southern side the buildings were kept lower to allow the sun to get well into the court.
In some localities the corner houses of squares would not pass existing bye-laws; there would in such a case be an opening for small walled gardens, which would be a boon to break the monotony of the streets, while stores, laundries, warehouses, workshops, and other needful buildings might find sites on these corners.
Before passing on to internal arrangement it is necesSelf-contained Houses.
sary to refer to the plan of building small houses with
long projections running out behind, which, common n all towns, is almost universal in London. These projections effectsally shade the rooms from such sunshine as they might otherwise zet, and impede the free access of fresh air. Some municipal flatiwellings afford a depressing example of this. In these houses the iving rooms, which are only about ten feet square, face each other across a narrow space between such projections, and are only eleven feet apart.* That a municipality could build living rooms at the top of an alley 24 ft. long, with windows only 11 ft. from the face of the opposite house, and could call that "clearing the slums," affords surely some measure of what slums must be. From such rooms the sun is effectually excluded, whatever their aspect ; little fresh air will penetrate to the ends of those blind alleys; and a drearier outlook one would hardly have thought it possible to conceive. But, alas, it has been conceived ; and on a fine estate near London there are to be found houses of this type having kitchens (sure to be used as living rooms) the windows of which look into alleys only 10 ft. 3 in. wide ; these windows project, and the fronts are just 6 ft. 3 in. apart, while between them rise blackened wood fences exactly 3 ft. from each window! These houses are specially planned to accommodate two families, being provided with two living rooms and two outlets to the back.f To realize how bad this type of house is, one has but to consider how they would appear in the light of the most lenient building bye-laws if the doors from the main buildings to the projections were built up, making each house into two cottages technically, as already it is two virtually. Some municipalities would then consider themselves almost justified in pulling down such projecting cottages, to let air and light reach the others. They are virtually “ back to back” houses opening on to 11 ft. wide streets with a dead end. Where houses must be built in rows, it is difficult to get enough air and sun to them in any case ; and it is only possible to do this when all projections which can cause stagnation or shade are avoided. Every house in a row should contain all its rooms and offices under the main roof, and present an open and fair surface to sun and air on both its free sides. If so built it matters not which side is to the street, or which to the court ; both are alike presentable ; the aspect can govern the arrangement of the rooms unhampered by superstitions of front and back.I
The self-contained house is not only better but more economical. A given cubic space can be built more cheaply when it is all within the main walls and under the main roof. A somewhat greater width of frontage is needed, and where streets are already laid out there might be extra cost of ground due to this which would be greater than the saving in the building. But the narrow house with straggling projections requires greater depth; and the deeper the houses the greater is the expense of the side streets which has to be divided among them. Where land is to be laid out, if the quadrangle arrangement is adopted, there need be no waste in side streets, because the houses face all ways, and this would about balance the extra cost of street per house due to the wider frontage, while the saving of detached outbuildings and back yard walls would mean a considerable economy.
Under present rates of ground rents, cost of building Cottages must and wages of occupants, we must reluctantly admit fit the life of that it is hardly possible to give to every cottage all occupants.
that is in the abstract desirable. But, far from being a reason why the ideal of cottage accommodation should be left out of
* See Plate Il'.