10 crazy ideas for the future of London housing which just came a step closer to reality

Lynsey Barber
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London's waterways could be home to new homes (Source: New London Architecture)

Floating houses and homes on top of hospitals: these are just two radical ideas which are a step closer to becoming reality in London.

They are just two of 10 concepts which have been chosen as winners in a search to find ideas for the future of housing in the capital and that help solve the city's shortage of homes.

From 100 design submissions which were displayed at the galleries of think tank New London Architecture, the winners were chosen by a panel of judges who are experts in planning, architecture and design.

While some may sound a little off the wall, perhaps, the 10 concepts will be presented to the Greater London Authority and the feasibility of each idea studied.

Here are the 10 radical concepts which could soon become reality.

1. The Urban Darning Project

Patrick Massey, CZWG

Filling in the gaps of the "urban fabric" is the goal of this project - hence the name. It urges local authorities to work together with architects and planners to identify small scale developments and draw up plans for the work.

"The report will focus on extension, infill and end condition sites which have the potential to be developed into additional residential units," it says. By drawing up the plans, the architects argue they are more likely to get green-lit.

2. Housing over public assets

Bill Price, WSP and Parsons Brinckerhoff

It's estimated the city could gain more than half a million new homes by building on top of existing public buildings such as hospitals, schools and libraries.

"This would comfortably meet the projected 488,000 homes that will be needed in the capital in the next decade whilst simultaneously improving public facilities," the architects say. "To achieve this, the private sector would refurbish or fully rebuild a hospital, library or school – paid for by adding several floors of apartments above the new facility that could be rented or sold."

3. Supurbia

HTA Design

HTA Design say Supurbia is a two-fold plan: "redeveloping the local main streets and parades as mixed-use places with increased housing and amenity provision; and allowing owner-occupiers of semi-detached homes to develop their land, creating rich diversities of housing."

They argue Supurbia will allow homeowners to release equity through home improvements and reliance on mainstream developers will be reduced. It could double the density of housing per plot of land and add nearly 17,000 homes each year - 40 per cent of London’s projected housing need for the next 20 years.

4. Intimate Infrastructures

Natasha Reid Design

Modular shared homes could seriously speed up the number of houses being built for private renters.

"New mass produced, modular ‘shared houses’ are proposed as standardised components, to speed up delivery, reduce construction costs and regulate minimum levels of space standards. Based on the London pattern of streets and squares, permanent infrastructure would be provided at ground level in the form of a courtyard and terraces townhouses, to embed more permanent groups into the city fabric."

5. Buoyant Starts

Floating Homes and Baca Architects

London's waterways make up a huge amount of unused space in the city. These "bluefield" sites cover 50 miles of river and canal and 150 hectares of space on the city's docks.

"Currently underused, this bluespace has the potential to deliver as many as 7,500 prefabricated floating starter homes with minimal disruption to existing communities. ‘Generation Rent’ becomes ‘Generation Float’. "

6. Investing in London’s Future by Learning from its Past

David Kroll

This architect believes the costs of land and the house sitting upon it should be separated.

"Suitable public land could be released to build housing, but it would not be sold off to private developers. Instead, it would remain in public ownership. What is being privately contracted out is only the planning and construction of the buildings. The leasehold to the houses or flats can then be sold for the amount that it actually costs to develop and build them, which is affordable to most Londoners."

7. MegaPlan for a MegaCity

GL Hearn (part of Capita)

Edge land - green belt land surrounding London but within the confines of the M25 amounts to 86,000 hectares. Just four per cent of green belt land in this area would be needed to meet the shortfall in housing.

"This approach would be underpinned by a strategic Green Belt review, to positively plan for a sustainable pattern of growth."

8. ATAL opportunity areas

Brendan Cuddihy, Arup, Rupesh Varsani, Craigewan

The density of housing in London is limited by something called Public Transport Accessibility Level (PTAL), whereby the amount of housing which can be built is directly related to the public transport provisions in the area.

ATAL, or Active Transport Accessibility Level is a new way of looking at this relationship.

"This (PTAL) makes sense from a public transport led sustainability perspective, but it leaves large swathes of London where higher densities cannot be realised, thereby supressing the provision of new homes. By shifting the focus from ‘transport accessibility’ to ‘active transport’, we can improve accessibility from these parts of London to enable a higher yet moderate housing density to unlock new supply."

9. Naked House

Pitman Tozer, LB Enfield and Naked House

Naked House could create more than 100,000 homes by 2025. The idea is a new housing provider which builds affordable intermediate homes on council-owned sites - neither traditional social housing or privately owned homes.

"Naked House acts as developer, taking on the developer risk and managing the process throughout, allowing us to jump many of the barriers to such schemes and provide a scalable model. The council propose to realise long-term value through a ground rent linked to the value of the land (and so any uplift in value is shared), the guaranteed provision of permanently affordable intermediate housing (a resale covenant locks in affordability for perpetuity), additional council tax receipts, etc"

10. Wood Blocks

dRMM Architects

Encouraging more self-building, the Wood Blocks concept provides a basic shell for creating homes in the same way as office buildings.

"Shell and core provides ‘ready to camp in’ housing: a structural, weatherproof, thermally- and acoustically-insulated shell which you can then partition and fit-out however you want. Excluding internal fit-outs could reduce the cost (to the developer/house-builder) of building new homes by 40 per cent, and the duration of construction by 25 per cent – delivering faster, cheaper housing."

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