Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Thinking differently about housing

I have been disturbed by the number of people, particularly young people, who are unable to find a home of their own. To me, having a place of your own is one of the most important aspects of life, but finding an affordable home in the current market is very tough as land values still remain excessive and construction is expensive and wasteful, which sends the price of a new home soaring.

For the past two years, _space group has been working hard to develop a truly affordable home. We have been working with several organisations from around the world to piece together what we feel may help. This has resulted in the creation of our own affordable home – _spacehus.

Our _spacehus brings together Swedish timber technology, an Italian heating system and Japanese photovoltaics to create structures we believe can be both affordable and low energy. However, there is clearly a sustainability problem here in that, in order to reach our goals, we have scoured the globe for innovation and quality of product! Why? Because the levels of innovation and quality abroad are simply not found in the UK at present.

One of the things we hope _spacehus will do is help to encourage our manufacturers to embrace the opportunities to develop leading edge technology for low energy living. Not only that, but we hope that our timber structures will change the stigma the British attach to pre-fabs and timber framed housing brought on by the cheap construction methods used in the 1960s and 70s. In Northern Europe, thousands of homes are built with a timber base, and as we’re able to use some of the lessons local manufacturers and designers have learnt, we can ensure that our building is made of the highest quality materials, producing an airtight structure.

Although current Government cutbacks, which have affected the HCA to the tune of £230m, make the ways in which homes can be delivered uncertain, there continues to be a housing need and we are confident that a way to deliver affordable homes for those who need them will be found.

_space group has recently submitted Planning Approval for a prototype home on our site in Newcastle. We will be testing the performance criteria of all of the _spacehus systems, as well as using it to demonstrate the power of this idea. We plan to be delivering our first commercial homes at the beginning of 2011.

Watch this _space for more news on this exciting development!

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