The last decade has been a challenging period for housing in the UK. The next ten years do not look any different although there have been schemes put in place to ease the strain of ever increasing house prices and home-ownership.
Architects are looking to take on a new role in housing, with pioneers such as Richard Rogers pushing for the acceptance of his Y:Cube scheme of prefabricated houses, designed for young homeless people in partnership with YMCA.
Sustainability, smart technologies and multi-purpose spaces are likely to be prominent in housing over the next 20-30 years and following the government’s announcement in last year’s budget to build 300,000 new homes a year, it is interesting to envisage what the future of homes could be.
Technology like driverless cars and mirror smart screens are expected to be common place within the next two decades, so it only makes sense that our homes are u[dated to accommodate these new gadgets and advancements.
General shifts in generational living behaviours now mean that houses with have to become flexible spaces that can comfortably hold an ageing population. There are also clear moves towards cleaner energy, eco-building and protection against more extreme weather conditions caused by climate change.
So what can innovative approaches can be expected in the future towards housing? Although speculative, the below provides just an insight of what we could see in the next few decades.
1) Robot builders
Imagine a brand new home, built within 2 days for around £10,000. That is the claim of American firm Apis Cor who successfully completed the first house printed using mobile 3D printing technology in Stupino, Moscow. The completed construction (including interior) took around 24 hours for an open plan studio-style home at just over 400 sq feet.
The future might even include SAM the bricklaying robot laying the groundwork for robotic construction. Designed to operate collaboratively with a mason, it can work six times faster than a human, laying 3,000 bricks a day. It’s hoped SAM will be introduced into the UK in the next five year after it has been trialled extensively in construction sites across the US.
Drones have also made their way on to the building site too, with Japanese construction giant Komatsu using drones as ‘the eyes’ for automated bulldozers. The drones scan the site, and feed the information to the machines to plot a course.
2) New materials
Modern flat-pack homes are now much better designed and put together than homes post WW2. Manufacturer Huf Haus are now pushing the introduction of shipping container styled properties.
Even the type of materials used are advancing. Timber has found its way back into house building thanks to advanced construction techniques, it is now being in the construction of sky-high towers. Urban design specialists Perkins + Will are teaming up with the University of Cambridge to develop the River Beech Tower (detail pictured below), an entirely timber 80 storey structure.
On the other side of the material spectrum, we have the use of plastic bricks. Danish student Lise Fuglsang Vestergaard developed the concept of recycling plastic. The colourful bricks can withstand up to six tonnes of pressure and if exposed to the monsoon season are likely to be able to hold up better compared to the current clay brick homes that are often washed away.
3) Living in Space
Probably the most optimistic option, but the same was said for man going to the moon. With yearly advancements in space exploration and the likes of Richard Branson and Elon Musk dabbling with the idea of space tourism within the next few years, we cannot discount the possibility of human settlement one day on planets such as Mars.
The idea of living in space one day does seem alien to many with logistics and possibilities seeming very slim. Studies by Russia between 2007 and 2011 considered the psychological challenges for a Mars crew. Isolation simulations carried out in a spacecraft showed that after 520 days, four of the six members developed psychiatric problems, including sleep disorders and depression. Researchers decided that astronauts would need coping strategies to deal with the isolation as well as frustrations over the 40-minute communication delay with Earth from Mars.
If we do manage to overcome such issues and settle successfully in space, it would be interesting to understand the dynamics of society. The types of homes that would be built to deal with the weather and pressure changes, transport and amenities to improve comfort.
There is still a high housing shortage in the UK and there is still high doubts on whether this will be met in the next few decades especially with the ever increasing UK population, creative solutions and policies seem to be certainly necessary to ensure residents can have improved living quality and the necessary infrastructure to grow with their families.