Advice

Solving the housing shortage with Homeshell

The difficulty of owning a property has been at the forefront of people’s minds for 10 years. In 2004, the yearly housing report identified a shortage of housing, which encouraged Homes & Property to announce a house designing competition. Richard Roger and Stanhope teamed up to work on Homeshell and 8 years later, it’s being dubbed as the answer to our ongoing shortage problem. As the mastermind, the Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners company is gaining quite a following.

The whole concept dates back to the 1960’s, when we turned to pre-fabricated home builds to reconstruct our cities after the Second World War. This latest attempt at pre-fabricated has an even quicker turnaround. If you commission a house, it’s delivered within four weeks and once delivered, built in 24 hours.

You can’t ask for much quicker than that can you?

house design

Image Source: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Unique panels are water and fire resistant and fixed to a sustainable softwood timber frame – which traps heat and acts as a soundproofing barrier. The windows are both large and long to draw in as much light in as possible. It’s being billed as energy-efficient too, although the lack of interior decoration in demonstrations has made it impossible to tell if the 90% reduction in costs is actually possible so far.

One of the biggest barriers to housing plans is space, so I was interested to find out just how a Homeshell would challenge that. It turns out that the central core of each home is designed to support it being endlessly stackable. High rise development is now on the horizon as we build up rather than out. Different unit combinations with non structural interior walls produce different living rooms to make a home fit for any space, and to avoid the cookie cutter look. There’s nothing I dislike more than identical looking homes. Each home should reflect the owner’s personality and that can be difficult if you’re constrained by the positioning of walls and internal pipework.

house design

Image Source: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

What I find exciting is the attempt to make use of unused land. At the moment, there are 32,400 acres of land just sitting there, while every year we struggle to find enough houses.  If we build on them, we wouldn’t be touching protected, green land and the lightweight panels can be built in places where weight is an issue. Maybe we could be building above underground tunnels sooner rather than later? Still, wherever their location, their lighter load means less structural support so a homeowner would save on material costs. It’s usually the structural frames that cost the most, so the saving could definitely be something to shout about.

From where I’m stood, it seems like we’re moving in the right direction, although we’ve still got some way to go on upping the visuals on progressive home builds.

What do you think of the Homeshell design? Could Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners need to brace themselves for creating more than their average of 780 houses a year? Visit The Royal Academy’s Burlington Gardens before 08/09/2013 to see an example home and judge for yourself.  

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One Comment

  1. I have seen better than these units, coming I think from Germany, which are also complete with water and electrics. They are built in the factory and delivered flat, erected and finished in a very short time, and can be added to as the family grows. Pity the ones shown here smack of the old prefab utility look. Good that they can be built on the odd pockets of brown sites but please improve their looks. Red and Green NOT very esthetically pleasing!

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