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Solving the London Housing Crisis | fluoro

Today London is facing a tough challenge, with an inflated population and increased pressure on the housing market. Statistics from the Valuation Office Agency, a body that lends valuation and property advice to government, show sharp increases in housing prices over the last four years, forcing people to rent smaller more affordable properties, house share, and reside in dwellings including old office buildings and police stations.

Innovation in the housing sector was a must, so together with with the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, think-tank New London Architecture (NLA) created a competition which called for proposals from architects, town and city planners, developers and everyday residents, to develop great ideas to help solve the London housing crisis.

This attracted more than 200 entries from 16 countries with industry professionals displaying great innovation and design prowess, generating a range of ideas to create ingenious housing solutions for future generations.

The entries were truly innovative. An idea put forward by BACA, called Buoyant Stars, proposed that starter homes be built to float over London’s vast water networks, claiming that 7,500 water homes could be delivered to Central London in the next 6-12 months. In fact, BACA is close to completing the UK’s first “amphibious house”, along the banks of the Thames. An entry by drMM Architects also proposed the possibility of floating homes, but pushed the idea further out, suggesting floating suburbs, including cafes, schools and cinemas. The proposal, Floatopolis, is seen as an alternative to “paving over” rivers. Water is what great cities have in common, said architect at drMM, Alex de Rijke.

Stride Treglown Ltd put forward the idea [nest], which would see modular homes built over retail spaces, like supermarkets. The properties would have a 10-year licence, and potential residents could qualify for ownership via amounts spent through loyalty cards for the respective shop. Alastair Parvin and Adam Towle in partnership with WikiHouse Foundation (an open-source construction set), proposed that current home owners with additional land (backyards, for example) could demolish their homes, allowing for two separate homes to be built. Numerous proposals also suggested some form of ‘re-development’, including Rooftop (Re)Generation by Bell Phillips Architects who suggested building homes atop flat-roofed post-war housing estates.

From a shortlisted pool, 10 winning entries have been selected by a prestigious jury with panellists including heads from Transport For London and architectural historians, to further examine how these projects and this research can contribute to identifying a workable solution for London. The winning entries are:

  • The Urban Darning Project. By Patrick J.A. Massey CZWG.
  • Housing over public assets. By Bill Price, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff.
  • Supurbia. By HTA Design.
  • Intimate Infrastructures. By Natasha Reid Design.
  • Buoyant Starts. By Floating Homes Ltd with Baca Architects.
  • Investing in London’s Future by Learning from its Past. By David Kroll.
  • Mega Planning, Beyond 2050 – MegaPlan for a MegaCity. By GL Hearn part of Capita Ltd.
  • ATAL Opportunity Areas. By THE ATAL TEAM.
  • Making more with less: unlocking leftover land for generation rent. By Pitman Tozer, LB Enfield and Naked House.
  • Wood Blocks. By drMM Architects.

These ideas will, according to the NLA, form the basis of an NLA Insight Study examining London’s housing crisis, in conjunction with supporting events spanning over three months.

“We hope this Insight Study will unearth ideas that housing providers, architects and others are thinking about and would like to promote and spread – including innovative ideas from overseas that we can learn from,” Peter Murray, Chairman of NLA said.

More on the winning entries can be seen at Dexigner. They will be exhibited in NLA galleries at The Building Centre, London from Wednesday 15 October – Friday 17 December 2015.

This post first appeared on fluoro. © HM Group (Aus) Pty Ltd 2015

featured image by ThisParticularGreg, FlickrCC

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