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University of Reading architects win award for Orts Road Estate neighbourhood project

The view towards Blake's Lock as the river passes by the red-brick Orts Road estate. Picture: Andrew Smith via geograph

A PROJECT which revealed a local neighbourhood’s hidden gems has recently won an award.

Architects at the University of Reading have been busy surveying residents of Orts Road Estate, in neighbouring Reading, to find out what they value most about their neighbourhood.

The goal of the project was to map landmarks and assets that offer social value to the community.

Now, it has been named the winner of the Cities and Community category in the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) President’s Awards for Research (2020).

Professor Flora Samuel, principal investigator of the project, said: “The social value of neighbourhoods has always been difficult to define, making it hard for architects to understand what impact their designs have on the community.

“Our approach engages the community in helping create a map to lay out in a clear and visual way the undervalued or hidden assets that most benefit them, and why.”

The final report pinpointed that natural features are important to local residents, such as parks and the Kennet riverfront.

It also showed that people appreciate schools, religious sites, community centres and pubs for socialising and a sense of belonging.

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