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Friday25 July 2014

Self-build has little to offer architects

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The call to rejoin the self-build movement is seductive but there are likely to be few opportunities

Ellis Woodman

Ellis Woodman- Executive Editor

The chairman of the National Self Build Association has urged architects to re-engage with the self-build movement.

His comments come in the wake of Grant Shapps’ announcement this year of plans to promote self-build as a means of boosting the number of homes built. Yet it remains unclear how much of a role there will be for architects.

The former housing minister and his self-build champion Kevin McCloud made a fact-finding visit to the Dutch new town of Almere where whole districts are given over to self-build.

Almere, in the Netherlands, is a pioneering large-scale self-build development.

Almere, in the Netherlands, is a pioneering large-scale self-build development.

Most houses there are kit homes, for which an architect’s services have not been required. This model could be applied to large, peripheral sites like the Thames Gateway, with a significant contribution to housing numbers.

Only if the land that councils release to self-builders turns out to be in existing urban locations are significant opportunities for architects likely to emerge. However, whether such a piecemeal approach will result in the number of housing completions needed seems very much less likely.

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