Tuesday22 August 2017

Rogers Stirk Harbour ready to roll out thousands of flatpack homes

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Son of Y:Cube could provide as many as new 7,500 homes a year

Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners has revealed plans to scale up production of the practice’s “move-on” homes to deliver up to 7,500 a year across the UK.

The practice’s associate partner Andrew Partridge said they had seen a huge interest in the homes – a larger version of the flatpack Y:Cube homes designed for the YMCA in south-west London.

He claimed they could form part of a response to the country’s housing shortage.

“Everywhere has a housing problem, and this can be used anywhere in the UK,” he said.

“We can have different manufacturing points and set them up without much cost. In the south-west there’s an extraordinarily acute shortage of housing for key workers and this can help.

“What has been quite shocking after talking to lots of different people is quite how big the housing problem is, and it’s not the usual candidates. If you look at the Y:Cube, the people there are not your normal homeless, they are studying or have jobs. The problem is extraordinary and frightening.

“We are talking to a London university and they are having issues finding housing for their staff. In Kingston we are in talks about working with the concept.”

Partridge was speaking ahead of the installation of 24 two-bed homes at the Ladywell site in Lewisham.

The practice entered into a partnership with Lewisham council in 2015 to create a deployable residential development using a volumetric construction method on the site of the former Ladywell leisure centre.

The temporary housing development has a maximum procurement budget of £4.3 million and will remain on site for between one and four years.

Lewisham council has contracted RSH&P and Aecom to deliver homes which are bigger than the original Y:Cube apartments in Mitcham. Closer in size to traditional council homes, they will go to people currently living in B&Bs in the borough.

The project is expected to complete in April.

Partridge said that though Mitcham acted as a “proof of concept”, the Lewisham plans had been closely watched by other London boroughs.

“The mayor of Lewisham has done this amazing thing of pioneering the use of these homes and everybody is interested in what they are doing at Ladywell,” he said.

“It’s only deployable because you can take it away and put it somewhere else and is good for places where there is future development that is not ready to begin.”



Readers' comments (19)

  • Every time I see a picture of these, this song starts playing in my head:

    Little boxes on the hillside,
    Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
    Little boxes on the hillside,
    Little boxes all the same.
    There's a green one and a pink one
    And a blue one and a yellow one,
    And they're all made out of ticky tacky
    And they all look just the same

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  • Portakabins with flattened pediments - how original!

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  • It is shocking that in our supposedly 'developed nation' young people are so desperate to find a place to live that they are prepared to live in flat pack 'trailer park' apartment developments that don't look a great deal better than the 1960's multistory developments of old. I just hope council's are ensuring that these developments are being adequately surrounded by lots of green space, and a fully sustainable attractive community environment including parks, shops, modern schools, transportation links, and family housing. Generally history has shown that a concentration of one demographic is never a good thing, especially if they resent their enforced surroundings. I don't think anybody would actually choose to live in an 'apartment' like this if offered a 'real house' as an alternative - that's the crime. Are these places in danger of becoming a multi-coloured 2020 version of the grey slums of the 60's I wonder?

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  • if David Jones lived in a cardboard box on the south bank I wonder if he would care about its ticky tacky let alone whether it was yellow or pink.

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  • Why has no one pointed out that these 'homes' are hideous, cheaply-made, and are only proposing to solve a massive problem (housing shortage) on a temporary and short-term basis? Only a starchitect can get away with this it seems.

    Don't these houses just show that good design is not affordable? Shouldn't we be tackling the issue at a higher level, in targeting the government to take the housing shortage more seriously and to invest in it appropriately? Rolling out these flatpack homes simply accepts the fact that the government is failing us, patching up the problem with a sub-standard solution.

    Let's get high quality, affordable and equitable homes back on the agenda please.

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  • @Simon, so you're against building cheaply but you want affordable and high quality?

    Most of Europe and North America seems to cope with the concept of flat pack housing, don't know why Brits are so against it, probably the usual snobbery.

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  • @ Simon Chung
    It’s not the construction costs stupid : it’s ransomed development land that causes the problem and no known political party in the UK has the balls to create property deflation by opening up planning/land use? Change that and everything else changes!!!

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  • SomeoneStoleMyNick

    Let's all remember that Richard Rogers, who spent a whole career posing as Mr. Modern Hi-Tech, now appears to have entered his dotage and supports the Quality Street Boris Bridge designed by the Boy Genius.

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  • Getafix

    I can see why people would defend this type of housing as a short-term fix to an urgent problem. The issue is that this is the same argument that was made to justify system-built tower blocks in the 60s and 70s, and the result was a poor reputation that lasted for decades for social/affordable housing and (rightly or wrongly) for architects.

    You can always make the argument that a cheap roof over someone's head is better than sleeping rough, and it's true. However, it's always depressing to see ugly housing being designed and built, regardless of its immediate, and undeniable need.

    I don't have a problem with Rogers or any one else actually designing this kind of stuff, as long as it's within a wider context of pushing for better standards and a sustainable, long-term solution to the housing crisis, which I'm sure Rogers is actually doing.

    Just a shame that these things are so damn ugly, and just look and feel like a repeat of some our worst short-term housing mistakes from from the past.

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  • Good to see that RSHP are seizing the market opportunity by 'topping and tailing' the outcome of our perverse approach to macroeconomics since 2008 by capitalising on the growing inequality between super rich and poor. Chapeau.

    I expect that one day, perhaps in 50-100 years' time our descendants will look back at this period and recognise that the unearned, unspent wealth that has accrued to the 0.01% *must have ended up coming from somewhere* (even taking account of relentless global money printing) and acknowledge that the booming rentier society (personified, for example, by the likes of Candy & Candy) have instrumental in the reason that so many of the young working poor can't afford their own shoebox.

    In the meantime, it's helpful to keep trotting out factually incorrect statements about 'housing shortage' to assuage our social conscience. (27m 'homes' in the UK, 25m 'households' (ONS data), 80K empty properties in Greater London alone (BBC)).

    The UK Housing crisis is primarily one of affordability and distribution, not supply.

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