Finding solutions for London’s housing crisis
by NIELS DROST
LONDON – While narrowboats are passing by, more than 7500 fixed homes are floating on London’s 80,5 km long canals – people are living on these boats. Not as an alternative way of living, but with all the facilities a ‘normal’ house would offer as well.
A few kilometres up ahead, homes have been built on decks above railway lines. Public buildings like hospitals and schools suddenly have apartments on top of them. Gaps between row houses are being filled with pre-fabricated residences.
Though the situations sketched above could be a solution for the ongoing housing crisis, they do not actually exist yet. They were entries in a competition organized by New London Architecture (NLA), trying to find solutions for the ongoing problem.
“There are plenty of ideas out there, but current housing numbers are delivered through a small number of top down solutions. We wanted to rediscover innovative thinking and to put it in front of the authorities,” says Peter Murray, director of NLA.
“We need to build in the region of 60,000 homes a year to make up for the backlog and to keep pace with growth. The Mayor has aims to deliver 42,000 but each year the total fails to rise above 25,000. This means prices are high and young people and poorer families are having to move out of London.”
From across the world ideas came in on how to create these extra houses needed for London at speed, scale and quality. This turned in to a shortlist of 100 ideas, among which 10 winners were selected after being reviewed by an expert jury. The majority of entries came from architects.
“We asked for innovative and ambitious ideas, and we were certainly not disappointed,” says Richard Blakeway, Deputy Mayor for Housing, Land and Property. He was in the jury of the initiative.
“Without a doubt, the entries showcase some exciting ways to challenge the traditional approach to house building and we look forward to pursuing the ideas set out by winning entries in discussions here at City Hall.”