Can sewing machines, hospital roofs and lakes solve London’s housing crisis?

New London Architecture (NLA) has selected 10 winning ideas from more than 200 entries to an international competition to help solve London’s shortage of affordable housing.

The winners had the common theme of looking for unused space in the capital and working out how to situate housing in it. They also varied greatly in scale. The sewing-inspired Urban Darning Project looked for small gaps in the urban fabric aims to patch with flats.

At the opposite end of the scale, Beyond 2050 – MegaPlan for a MegaCity by GL Hearn of outsourcing company Capita set out find ways to "maximise potential land supply across ‘Edge Land’ – the belt running between the inner London Green Belt and the M25."

WSP & Parsons Brinckerhoff devised an idea called Housing over Public Assets. This aims to utilise space above public buildings such as hospitals, schools and libraries. And so show that small can be big, the team estimate that a full build-out would add 630,000 apartments to the captial’s housing stock.

HTA Design’s Supurbia proposal would capitalise on the difficulties faced by outer London’s many high streets and parades of shops. It proposes to redevelop these as "mixed-use places with increased housing and amenity provisio" that would "allow owner-occupiers of semi-detached homes to develop their land, creating rich diversities of housing".

WSP & Parsons Brinckerhoff’s Housing over Public Assets

Buoyant Starts is project created by Floating Homes and Baca Architects which hopes to provide affordable prefabricated floating homes, on unused water space within the capital.

The team notes there are "approximately 50 linear miles of rivers and canals forming the waterways network of the Greater London area, and an additional 150 hectares of developable waterspace in the city’s docks, marinas, and basins that we call ‘bluespace’ or ‘bluefield’ sites".

Richard Blakeway, deputy mayor for housing, land and property, is quoted by our sister site Construction Manager, saying: "We asked for innovative and ambitious ideas, and we were not disappointed. The range and number of well-considered and imaginative entries was truly impressive.

"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."

Beyond 2050 – MegaPlan for a MegaCity by GL Hearn of Capita

Peter Murray, chairman of the NLA, said: "The way we are delivering new homes today just isn’t working. London is only able to build half the number it needs each year. This competition shows how a bit of creativity, entrepreneurship and new thinking can help to fill that gap."

The winning ideas will be presented to the Greater London Authority who will study their feasibility as options for the future of the London housing market.

View the 10 winners in more detail here.

All winning and shortlisted ideas are on display in a free public exhibition titled New Ideas for Housing in The Building Centre from 15 October to 17 December.

Top image: Baca Architect’s Buoyant Starts Floating Homes

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