Britain’s Shrinking Buildings
In one of our articles a couple of weeks ago we highlighted a problem that is going to have a very real effect on families and homeowners across the UK for many years to come – the fact that as we make progress and our population grows, our homes are shrinking! Although new homes are being built across the whole of the UK at an impressive rate in order to tackle the shortage meet the government’s plan to build 300,000 new homes each year in accordance with the 2017 Budget, the new homes being built are so small that many are not really fit for purpose.
Architect, Richard Rogers, speaking at a recent event on factory-made housing (off-site manufacture, also known as OSM) addressed this subject. Rogers is a British architect who’s noted for his modernist and functionalist designs in the field of high tech architecture. He’s best known for his work on the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Senedd (seat of the Welsh Assembly) in Cardiff and the European Court of Human Rights building in Strasbourg. Among the accolades Roger has been awarded are the RIBA Gold Medal, the RIBA Stirling Prize, the Thomas Jefferson Medal, the Minerva Medal and the Pritzker Prize.
The Senedd, Cardiff, Wales
Richard Rogers’ trademark style exposes most of the building’s services (such as heating, water and ventilation ducts) on the exterior of the building, leaving internal space uncluttered – a style viewed as controversial in 1977 when the Pompidou Centre opened its doors to the public. However, the style has come to be widely admired in recent years and Rogers reiterated this look for London’s Lloyd’s Building in 1986.
Rogers recently weighed in on the sizes of the new homes being built across Britain, saying “When local authorities who had been elected by the local people lost planning control in favour of the government, who handed it to the developer, we lost control.” He believes that more architects need to carry out work for local authorities because “volume housebuilders” are currently in control, putting their own interests first. This means that profits are being given higher priority than quality and numbers.
Rogers states that greed is the bottom line for volume housebuilders, who are not motivated to build more expensively. In fact, he reckons that they want to build less because they want demand to increase. This will not solve the UK’s current housing crisis and Rogers advocates that more local councils should get involved in building homes.
Earlier this month, Theresa May unveiled the beginning of a new era in council house building in England, announcing an end to borrowing rules that have prevented local authorities from using a key fund to deliver new homes across the land. This is expected to increase the building of new houses, with the government target of 300,000 new homes each year, a significant number of which would be council homes.
This is good news for the construction industry in general and it’s hoped that many of the nation’s SME construction companies will be involved in this drive to house people in the UK.