We’ve had an overpopulation problem in big cities across the world such as London, New York and Hong Kong, and unsurprisingly the problem isn’t getting resolved that fast. As the population in any city becomes more dense, the cost of housing increases, meaning low income people can struggle to find somewhere to live.
The mass-housing solutions you see in London are often the ones from the mid-20th Century, the big grey ones that impose brutalism on the otherwise-nicer elements of the city. It’s unfortunate because these are often the only housing solution for low-income families, and they hardly promote strong communities within their bland and imposing walls.
Earlier this year, James Bartolacci wrote for architizer.com on new ways affordable housing could be made, but in a way that encouraged community and, more importantly, promoted sustainable living:
Today, affordable housing seeks to do more than simply create decent spaces for living. Instead, new affordable housing models incorporate sustainable features that reduce the cost of construction maintenance, technologies that help empower residents and connect them to outside resources, and greater reverence for human scale and connection to the street—beneficial features that we can only hope to see more of in the future.
Sustainable housing in the UK
It’s undeniable that there are different cultural, financial and social requirements between the UK and the United States, so before we look at the solutions that James highlighted, here is what’s happening in the UK.
LILAC stands for Low Impact Living Affordable Community and is a twenty-strong ecological co-housing project in Leeds. They aim to reduce the impact on the environment, while actively tackling the housing crisis in established areas.
The houses are created using straw and timber walls, which is one of the main contributors to their sustainability.
Read more about LILAC houses.
Housing association Radian have developed a more straightforward solution to inefficient homes by simply tackling energy loss. Their argument is that lots of people in low-income areas are having to put up with drafts and expensive heating. They’ve been leading the way in new builds and energy-efficient retrofits to solve the problem at the root.
US sustainable city living
This project from Fougeron Architecture aimed to get rid of the outdated and solemn retirement housing that we see across most of the western world. Parkview Terrace added elements from around the city such as a salon, health club and therapy centre. The windows are undulated to increase the size of each apartment in a cost-effective way.
This Bronx unit from Dattner Architects and Grimshaw holds 222 units, and boasts more than a few sustainability features, such as solar panels, a huge courtyard space, and gardening solutions on the roof. There are also enhanced insulation and water drainage systems in place, winning it a number of largely-abbreviated awards.