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NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH THE SPACE RACE


Architect and TV presenter George Clarke tells Tomorrow’s FM why he’s back on our screens revealing some truly amazing spaces.


You can hardly turn on the news these days without seeing some sort of ‘housing crisis’ being debated, whether it be the lack of new builds, the rising cost of property, or the difficulties faced by first-time buyers. But could the solution be as simple as devising a process that makes it possible to build a house in just 24 hours? George Clarke seems to think it might just be.


The architect and TV presenter knows a thing or two about how homes are built, as shows like Restoration Man and Amazing Spaces prove, but Clarke now wants to show the construction industry that a radical shake-up of how houses are created and erected is needed.


Partnering with the Ideal Home Show, Clarke is determined to show that The Multi-Generational Home, an affordable, practical, yet stylish home that can be constructed and erected within 24 hours, is a viable way forward.


“I think one of the biggest challenges today is to have affordable homes for all and there are two ways to make that happen. One is to either make them smaller so you don’t have to pay for as much material and labour; alternatively, you build them quicker. And one thing that everybody in the building industry says is that we need to make it a faster process, so we have set ourselves the challenge of building a house in 24 hours.”


Is that a realistic goal? “It is a tough one really; it might even be a bit overambitious, but it is worth experimenting with a prototype along those lines. If nothing else, it challenges the industry to see if we can do it.”


Yet again, not enough new homes have been built this year and Clarke is tiring of the same excuses. “The Coalition say they need to build


10 | TOMORROW’S FM


300,000 homes a year and they are only building 120,000 – it’s not enough. It is the biggest problem the country has had for years. And I know the excuse is going to be the economic downturn and terrible weather. I already know those will be the excuses – I’ve heard them before.”


Clarke is therefore imploring the Government to fully get behind his scheme. “We need them with us; it is something that they have got to step up to. The word that is used more than any other is ‘efficiency’. People say we need to be more efficient; we need to make money stretch further. But if you think about how we have built houses over the last 30 years, it isn’t much different to how we have built them over the last 300 years: lots of concrete, lots of cement, it takes a lot of time. Look at the way technology is used in other parts of life – we are way behind. We have to raise our game.”


Of course, Clarke knows what he is talking about. An expert at restoring spaces, the Sunderland- born presenter made his name on TV by doing up old caravans and campervans, and sees parallels between the camper vans and his current project. “We bought a caravan for £300 and the plan was to convert it into a real space, particularly for the kids and for holidays. We’d never done it before so we weren’t contaminated by the system of how you should and shouldn’t do things. And if we can take a piece of tat that was destined for the scrapheap and turn it into something then there is hope in there for everybody. That caravan is evidence that you don’t have to live in a certain way and shows what you can do with a bit of thought, and that goes for a lot of architecture. It’s more about maximising what you have than requiring a huge budget to fulfil a project, and that will always be exciting.”


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