Sarah McLeary

Ceramics and Architecture

one way or another

RIBA have launched a campaign called ‘HomeWise‘, to investigate modern homes, and start a dialogue between home owners and home builders. That’s what they say on their website, anyway.

What RIBA have also done is annoy a lot of architects, who make their living by working for volume housebuilders, who feel a bit victimised by this campaign. One architect told the BD “There is absolutely no doubt that the intention was to create a furore”.

The idea is to highlight the lack of footprint in new homes in Britain. It’s a stone fact that houses and flats are not built to space standards – unless they are built by housing associations, who build to Parker Morris space standards.

A campaign to increase awareness fo housing issues has been widely accused of threatening to halt the very wobbly recovery of the construction industry. There has also been criticism of snobbism, as the campaign is aimed at increasing home sizes – which will increase building costs – which will further limit who can afford property.

The thought that adding 8m2 or usable floor area to the average three bedroomed house would increase the cost is enough to make my blood boil. The arguement isn’t to retro-fit every home that falls short of the PM standards with a delightful 8m2 workshop on the rear elevation [although that would be good], it’s to encourage new homes to be built slightly larger. On an average house that’s just over half a metre of extra width, or two feet of extra depth on the footprint.

this is based on a two storey house, so each storey is 43.3m2


2 comments on “one way or another

  1. alhodg
    September 21, 2011

    It’s not just about inside space either. When we started looking we had a look round a small new estate near us. The houses were really nicely appointed, on 3 floors with 3 proper double bedrooms, and clever design to make the admittedly small bottom floor flexible. OUt front, though, all space was given over to car parking (street parking is perfectly doable round there) and the back garden was a thimble. This made you feel hemmed in out back, especially given the 3 storey houses. I always moan at nimbys on house programs who are obsessed with being overlooked, but even in cold and rainy Britain, a family home like this should have some decent outside space.

    This is why we ended up buying a house from the 1930s – a period in British housing where quality of life was put alongside profit (bear in mind many more were private housing projects then than in the 60s, for instance). The Garden City movement may have been twee, but it’s the only way we’ve managed to get decent outside space on a first time buyers’ budget.

    Maybe now the ridiculous housing bubble has burst, builders will have to work harder to sell houses by increasing sizes and using more innovative designs.

    Then again…


    • sarahhalford
      September 22, 2011

      You can fill in the RIBAs survey, and put that in the thing that is most important to you. I put natural light, although I should really have said ‘looking out onto a tree’ because that is actually what I like most about my flat. It’s not my tree, but it is ‘a’ tree!

      It’s a tricky one, this, except it’s not actualy tricky, theere are just people getting upset about nothing. You’d be a fool to ignore the fact that houses in the UK are much smaller than those in other parts of Europe. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed. Let’s face it, if architects won’t draw houses that are below a certain size, builders can’t build then from their imagination.


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This entry was posted on September 21, 2011 by in architecture.
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