In a fascinating survey carried out at the recent Parndon Mill Open Weekend, visitors to the offices of Architecture and Design Services were asked which of three designs they would choose from a display of photographs of three housing types: terraces, town houses and flats.

The three designs, or styles of architecture, shown in the photographs were: “new town” (meaning classic original Harlow), “new build” (representing estates of the around the millennial period) and “contemporary” (a more recent, innovative style).

Visitors’ preferences were recorded with red, yellow and blue dots – one per visitor per housing type and the results in the displays speak for themselves.

Both “new town” and “contemporary” were strongly preferred over “new build” in the terrace and town house categories while “contemporary” was the clear leader in flats.

The survey was conducted over two days, hence there are two displays shown here.

Interesting conversations were sparked around this exercise which, like the Harlow Architectural Design Awards, was organised to help stimulate interest in and appreciation of Harlow’s unique architecture.

One of the most common observations was about the community value of green spaces. For example, very many people said that the classic new town terraces in the photograph, with their landscaping in front, would help build connections with neighbours while the contemporary terraces, while possibly more attractive as buildings in themselves, were fronted by hard surfaces and roadways that would keep people either indoors or in their cars.

These comments, and many others, underlined how the planners of Harlow thought carefully about how the layout of housing within the landscape would help to build an thriving urban community.