27 Mar 2015

New book celebrates evolution of Applewood

A new book celebrating the development journey of Applewood in Stroud was launched recently and shows the evolution of the site from a former hospital to a community of 78 new homes.

Applewood, which was built by Haboakus, the joint venture between GreenSquare and Kevin McCloud’s company Hab, comprises: 21 four-bedroom houses, 29 three-bedroom houses, 14 two-bedroom houses, 8 two-bedroom apartments and 6 one-bedroom apartments. Built on the site of the former Cashes Green Hospital, the development incorporates some of the original buildings including the lodge, gate house and former nurses home. 

The book ‘The Art of Applewood: from Hospital to Homes’ has been put together by local photographer, Ruth Davey, and artist, Lis Parker. Over 120 full colour pages, and through more than 100 photographs taken over three and a half years, the book tells the story of how the designers, architects, government, housing association and builders collaborated with the local community and gave new life to the rich ecology of the site. 

Phil Bowley, GreenSquare’s Head of Regeneration, said: “We’re delighted that Ruth and Lis chose Applewood as the focus of their book, which provides an impressive timeline of the development. It not only chronicles the successes and challenges we faced throughout the building process, but also gives us stories from people who used to work at the hospital and depicts the aspirations of a community.” 

Author Ruth Davey said: “This book is the culmination of the story of a very special plot of land. It is not only about bricks and mortar; it is about the ‘spirit of place’, the relationships between people, and a connection with the earth. Crouching in thick mud, wearing my hard-hat and high-viz jacket, looking, looking again and seeing the colours, textures, forms and light on the site, I frequently experienced moments of pure bliss. I hope this book will challenge and inspire future housing developments to look at the gift of land differently.”

Author Lis Parker said: ’Land is more than a resource, it is also a place that holds personal and spiritual experiences that all living beings connected to it resonate with and feel part of. This book is full of the stories reflecting our relationship to ‘place’. As we leave the old story behind and move into a ‘new story’ there is the potential for this relationship to transform into a respectful, loving and creative partnership with the earth.’’

The book was funded and supported by: GreenSquare, the Homes and Communities Agency, HAB Housing, Cashes Green Community Land Trust, Markey Construction, Gloucestershire Land for People, Cainscross Parish Council, DSDHA Architects, DBK Partners, Curtins, and Studio Engleback.

If you'd like to purchase a copy of the book, it is for sale at £10.99 from www.look-again.org or from Made in Stroud or the Stroud Bookshop. 

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