Opinion

Let's Build Pop-Up Housing

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 18 months ago
Let's Build Pop-Up Housing
Artist's impression of PLACE / Ladywell.

London needs more housing: yes.
Housing takes time and can be expensive to build: yes.
Let's build pop-up homes: yes.

A report from the London Assembly Conservatives shows how 'pop-up housing' — homes built modular-style in a factory and then assembled on-site — can be faster and cheaper to build than traditional homes, but still have the same look and standards. They say we should be using pop-up homes to combat the housing crisis.

It makes sense to us. There are lots of plots of land in London that are either too small for a major development, or are stuck in planning hell. Getting low cost housing on these sites even temporarily (or not so temporarily: see the prefabs in Catford) can create affordable homes for people who need them now.

Rents for studio flats in the modular Y:Cube development in Mitcham are £148 a week, compared with a local market average of £210 per week. Londonist is currently watching the speedy rise of PLACE / Ladywell in Lewisham, where modular homes will provide housing for 24 families registered homeless with the council.

The report identifies a couple of methods of construction, one of which is half the cost of traditional building. With land prices so high in the capital, and in the absence of any plan to do anything about that, reducing construction costs is one way of bringing down prices to the people who will eventually live in them.

Andrew Boff, Conservative Assembly Member, said

I’ve said before that we need to look at innovative ways of providing a diverse housing stock in our capital and these homes provide a fast, affordable solution that could help drive down the price of building and, subsequently, renting in London.

The London Land Commission recently identified space for 130,000 new homes on public land and previous reports have shown there is potential for at least 10,000 homes on small disused sites across the capital. Why not utilise these spaces now by erecting high-quality, desirable homes that are genuinely affordable?

Take a look at some of the possibilities offered by modular housing. We wouldn't mind living in these ourselves.

Y:Cube, 36 units built by the YMCA in Mitcham.
This is a modular house, honestly. It's in Wolverhampton.
Inside one of the Wolverhampton houses.
Interior of the Heijmans ONE scheme in Amsterdam.

Last Updated 26 February 2016

barbarian

There are very good quality modular houses : yes. The problem is that they won't use good quality, but rather low cost and end up with a fast degrading no good looking house / block of houses / neighbourhood. I think we need a long-term solution, rather than easy way out one. Most of the houses in the pics look awful outside (although very well decorated inside). After giving it to someone, it's really hard to change it, temporary in housing usually means forever until something drastic happens. We definitely need cheaper, proper houses... well there must be a solution.