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As I was doing my (almost) daily 2-mile walk during this Easter Holiday, I noticed the luscious green fields that I walked past every day has become a construction site. Vast areas of green were disappearing, making way for new homes. It made me quite emotional, not in an angry way but I was so used to seeing the green scenery and was not ready for this sudden change.

New developments for Kenton Bank Hall (Image author’s own, 2019).
(Image author’s own, 2019).
(Image author’s own, 2019).

Hence, I started to wonder when do we start preparing for the future? Until all the green lands disappear? Should we start building vertically? It truly is a difficult question, as globally cities are increasing with high density, such as cities like Tokyo and London. The UK is experiencing housing crisis not just for the new density but also for the homeless; rough sleepers.

However, not everything is all doom and gloom. Currently, the UK government has reframed the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), issuing these main points for housing developments (GOV.UK, 2018):

 

  • Greater responsibility, for local authorities and developers.
  • Maximising the use of land, such as brownfield and redundant lands.
  • Maintaining strong protections for the environment.
  • Ensuring the right homes are built.
  • Higher quality design.
  • More transparent planning processes.
   In addition, from a design perspective I want to focus on the idea of competitions. Yes, you may wonder why competitions are related to this topic, but I often feel that they come up with the most inventive solutions. Competitions often give the scope of what the “future” city may be like but at the same time people may think it is too futuristic, or conceptual and the competition just ends there. Yet, from a blink of an eye, we may desperately need these designs. Could we turn such conceptual designs in to reality? It has been proposed that competitions are not used as a scale to see which designers are the best but as a tool to investigate suitability and appropriateness to maintain a part of civilisation (Wang, 2012, p.30). Therefore, competitions be a way to test out different options. Below is a winner from a competition set by Bee Breeders, to challenge new ways of affordable housing in London.
Winner ‘Beyond the Shell’, by Lianji Wu (Stouhi, 2019).

In conclusion, it is a great to see the government stepping in to revise ways to push out more housing for future densities. But it would also be great to see a more creative flare and collaborative processes and view these conceptual designs, as an important role to play for the future.

Let me know what you think!


References:

[1] GOV.UK., (2018). ‘Prime Minister launches new planning rules to get England delivering homes for everyone’. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: <https://www.gov.uk/government/news/prime-minister-launches-new-planning-rules-to-get-england-delivering-homes-for-everyone> [Accessed on 15 April 2019].
[2] Stouhi, D., (2019). ‘Solutions to London’s Mounting Affordable Housing Crisis Proposed in Bee Breeders’ Latest’, [online] archdaily. Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/910189/bee-breeders-announce-the-winners-of-its-london-affordable-housing-competition> [Accessed 15 April 2019].
[3] Wang, W., (2012). ‘Competitions’. In: W.G. and W.R., (2012). Crucial Words: Conditions for Contemporary Architecture. Basel: Birkhäuser. Pp.30-34.

School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509

Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk


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