The Royal Institute of British Architects' 'At Home in Britain' event is currently showcasing work from 6 architects and their vision for the house of tomorrow. The brief was for three traditional British homes – a terraced house, cottage and flats – to be re-imagined and designed for modern-day, contemporary living.
While the inspiration behind the idea stems from London’s burgeoning population and limited housing options, the greatest ideas would be able to work across the UK and suit a wide-array of tastes and living styles. If any ideas are suitable to be used, then they must also be designs that can be fairly easily constructed and also, not too costly.
With the six designs now available to view, could any of them work in a country with a rapidly growing population but limited scope for significant new construction?
For the terraced house, a popular dwelling in cities and towns that were built up around industrial work sites, the ideas were certainly interesting. Whether or not people and families would enjoy living in the newly imagined properties is open to debate. Why? Well, among the ideas from architects vPPR, was “The Party House” which includes one communal area between two houses or families to be used as a working area, play area and party area.
One of the two architects who worked on the brief for flats, Dutch firm Mecanoo, came up with a low-rise structure that would contain 60-70 flats of various sizes from studios to more spacious larger, easier accessible spaces for the elderly. This, they said, would work because you’re able to home a sizable number of people, but not so many that they feel the building doesn’t belong to them or they can’t relate to it as their home.
The country cottage makeover by Jamie Fobert Architects, meanwhile, was about giving people more choice and individuality. While the way in which the structure could be built was the same so the cottages had a similar, overall ‘look’. The size and layout of the modern day country cottage could be easily adapted to would suit each person or family choosing to live and build in the country.
There have been plenty of other, innovative ideas too, all of which could provide some real inspiration to builders who must often try and fit as many homes onto a plot as they can, while giving the eventual inhabitants the space and details they want.
Quite often, architectural imaginings can be a little off-the-wall, unaffordable and not particularly appealing to the masses – builders or inhabitants. But, these 2016 efforts don’t really fall into those categories, perhaps it’s because we are grappling with a real-life housing crisis and there isn’t a tonne of cash flying around to use to fix it?
Whatever the reason for some of these great, architectural plans, they should at the very least give hope that Britain can build its way out of this housing crisis and create homes that people will enjoy living in, no matter what style of home they choose.