Span Places

Humane spaces, dignity and esteem, cohesion and identity, integrated landscape design. These were just a few of the compliments heaped on Span housing developments during a Symposium held at RIBA on 18 November.

Span Developments flowed from the vision of Eric Lyons, who looked below the surface of architecture and developed a core set of principles to build houses that people liked and could afford. The principles embraced three Ls: layout, landscape and leasehold. The letter has been vital in supporting residents' management tructures that have maintained the quality of the estates. It was part of a complete planning approach that saw the need to fuse together the physical, social and economic aspects of housing.

As a model for modest development, up to 150 dwellings say, it has much to teach us. But can it be applied to the larger numbers dictated by the growth agenda in some historic towns? Yes, if we are prepared to look and learn the lessons. To quote from a new monograph on Lyons and Span: 'The test of good housing is not whether it can be built easily, but whether it can be lived in easily.''Eric Lyons and Span', edited by Barbara Simms