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18 INSIGHTS FUTURE WATCH The experience of microhousing


James Potter, director of WG+P Architects, explores how ‘microhousing’ could be a panacea for the housing crisis, in a future based more on experiences than possessions, and open the door to smaller, better housing


all. For occupiers this could be affordability in the right location, for planners it’s the regeneration of otherwise difficult brownfield sites to meet housing targets, and for developers it is the return for their investors as they fit more units into smaller spaces. So if microhousing is the panacea to a widespread problem of housing shortage, why aren’t we seeing more built examples? And is it really going to take off? Waind Gohil + Potter Architects (WG+P) have been closely involved in the debate and have looked at numer- ous designs for small homes that could provide good quality living standards and shared amenity facilities. Here we offer some observa- tions and comments on the current key aspects under discussion. Microhousing is touted as a way to solve, in particular, London’s housing crisis by the provision of sub-30 m2


M homes in inner London to bring affordability to people priced out of their neighbourhood.


icrohousing is a relatively new term bandied around by some in the industry to describe an old problem: how to fit people into ever smaller living spaces in a way that benefits


Solving London’s housing shortage is a huge and complex subject and no one fully knows what effect resolving one element of the problem will have on others, or what the measurable outcomes ought to be. Is it simply a numbers game; build more to cool the housing market? Or is the issue one of longer term affordability and tenure, to manage built projects to ensure they benefit those most adversely affected by the housing boom? And should we be wary of providing very specific house types that could have a ghettoising effect by attracting only a very specific demographic?


Finding a way to house everyone adequately is certainly not a new problem. Your average London terrace house would have met housing demand 170 years ago by accommodating a family in each of its four rooms, but without proper sanitation and with only the most rudimentary heating. Nowadays, the housing crisis has become headline news, but it isn’t a problem we’re going to design our way out of – yet that’s what makes microhousing fascinating. Due to its diminutive scale, microhousing is being swept into the


COP OUT According to the author, it would be a “cop out” for microhousing to be “limited to providing funky starter homes for millennials in town centres”


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ADF SEPTEMBER 2017


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