Innovating London's housing market\

In our 2013 report, Emperor's New Housing, we disputed the idea that London's future housing should be driven by aesthetics.

Boris Johnson thought his London Housing Design Guide would lead to a 'new vernacular'. Now that Johnson is on his way out of the mayoralty it's no better time to assess his impact on housing in the capital. Instead of regulations being the vehicle for innovation, we thought the real revolution ought to take place in meeting new demographics and economic realities. Well, that reality is here.

In Emperor's New Housing, we put forward four housing prototypes that each respond to an emergent London demographic. As we continue to work on a broad range of housing projects across the capital, we are seeing those housing types being realised as viable development products, and we are continuing to have conversations with developers about new models of living for the near future. We are quietly happy that we were thinking those same thoughts with them while the majority of debate on housing design was about the 'new London vernacular'.

Those four housing prototypes are:

Sandwich house: A house for multi-generational and multiple households. The principle of a house adaptable to various life stages should take into account multi-generational households. By overcoming the assumption of a single entrance to a unit, privacy, room hierarchy and fire egress arrangements are all liberated.

Realisation: Private Rented Sector/Build to Rent - Products in this market seek to address a range of concerns, but at the heart of it are new consumers who demand greater flexibility with their living arrangements. Example:

Share house: A home for cash-strapped buyers who like communal living. Shared areas can alleviate the need to provide individual kitchen/living/dining areas in each apartment. A bigger living area can serve a cluster of 4 or 5 apartments and still be less overall floor area than if individual kitchen living areas were provided to the minimum space standards. Just like the corner pub provided a convivial ‘living room’ away from home.

Realisation: Co-living projects are popping up all over the city where smaller private spaces are made up for with generous communal facilities. Example:

Tract house: A home for renovaters with more sweat equity than financial assets. Any number of flats could be accommodated on a given floor of this apartment block depending on the needs of owners. Individual room space requirements are dispensed with, as this arrangement accommodates for bespoke layouts according to resident requirements within minimum building regulations.

Realisation: Naked House taps into community spirit to create affordable and personalised homes.

Volume house: A home for homeworkers. Instead of minimum ceiling heights, variable ceiling heights match particular requirements of individual rooms. Human perception is more sensitive to variation in vertical than horizontal dimensions.

Realisation: Solidspace utilises increased ceiling heights to increase the amenity and quality of a home's suite of rooms.

Each of our prototypes are being rolled out in the market proving our assumption that new housing models have a critical role to play in meeting the capital's housing needs. Interestingly each of our prototypes contravenes a statute of the London Housing Design Guide which brings home our point that regulations don't create innovation. Innovation comes from finding novel and disruptive solutions through looking at problems with fresh eyes.

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