Future Homes for London: Alternate Models

Homes and housing are pressing concerns worldwide, as cities expand to accommodate increasingly urban populations. Acknowledging this, the UK government recently pledged £1.67 billion to start building a further 27,000 affordable homes in London by the end of 2022. Examining alternative models of affordable and community-led housing projects for the UK, the City Design Programme (Intergenerational Cities) and the School of Architecture (ADS7 Social Movements) at the Royal College of Art are hosting a series of events examining Future Homes for London to help facilitate change in the city.

Discussing the programme, co-organiser Dr Tarsha Finney said: ‘These events will bring together a dynamic group of architects, consultants and community groups who are proposing and realising radical new approaches to housing and its spatial performance, particularly in response to issues such as ageing and the attendant problems of isolation and loneliness, young families in the city and transforming economies. It is a question of both city design and the development of civil society itself.’

Bringing together an international group of architects, industry consultants, community groups and housing activists, this public knowledge exchange will  consider what alternative models of procurement, governance and ownership of housing are possible within the context of the UK, through studying global examples including: Swiss projects based on nineteenth century cooperative legal structures such as Kraftwerk I and Mehr als Wohnen in Zurich; new Spanish cooperatives, like La Borda, that address community ageing; and the Nightingale structure developed within the specific legal and financial constraints of Australian law.

By scrutinising the successes of these projects, participants will consider what can be learned from other places and applied within the specificity of the legal jurisdiction, regulatory framing and financial structures of the UK. Dr Finney continued, ‘These kinds of innovative solutions to pressing societal issues are at the heart of the new City Design MA programme at the RCA. It’s exciting to be hosting these events, which have the potential to catalyse new approaches to housing in London.’

Dr Tarsha Finney, Programme Leader for City Design, and Dr Sam Jacoby, Senior Tutor in Architecture, have coordinated these events in collaboration with St Ann’s Redevelopment Trust (StART) Haringey, The Architecture Foundation and Baylight Foundation.

Symposium Schedule and Speakers:

Talks on the first day will focus on precedents of community-led and community-owned housing. Presentations from architects and housing activists will discuss the processes of specific projects and experiments in new, shared amenities at the scale of the building block and the dwelling unit. The day will conclude with a panel discussion covering ideas around participation, conflict, negotiation and the constitution of community through the realisation of such projects.

The second day will be framed by StART, an ambitious community-led housing project formed as a Community Land Trust by local residents and workers, which aims to build 800 high-quality, secure and genuinely affordable homes on a former hospital site in Haringey. Through a community-led and transparent process StART aim to protect, develop and redesign this site and build a thriving neighbourhood run by the community, offering a radical approach to London's housing crisis.

The presentations and discussions will consider what is genuinely affordable when it comes to housing and how alternative models of housing can be scaled up to match the UK housing demand. The afternoon panel will consider how affordable housing can be funded, discussing what financing and procurement models are needed, and the possibility of public and private capital working with community organisations and philanthropy.

The final event is a discussion of the future of community-led housing, hosted by The Architecture Foundation. This event will bring together architects leading cooperative housing projects in countries as diverse as Switzerland, Spain and Australia with cooperative housing leaders in London to discuss the value of design as part of the process of bringing communities together. 

Speakers at the events include:

  • Claudia Thiesen (Mehr Als Wohnen), Kraftwerk I, Zurich
  • Christoph Schmidt (ifau), R50, Berlin
  • Christian Roth (Zanderroth Architekten), BIGyard, Berlin
  • Cristina Gamboa (Lacol), La Borda, Barcelona
  • Jeremy McLeod (Breathe Architecture): The Nightingale Principle
  • Paul Karakusevic  (Karakusevic Carson Architects): Camden/New York
  • Catherine Harrington (Director, National CLT Network)
  • Frances Northrop (Consultant, NEF/Co-ops UK Community Economic Development Programme)
  • Stephen Hill  (Director, C20 futureplanners) 

A schedule and full list of speakers can be found here: Future Homes for London: Alternate Models


Future Homes for London
13–14 April 2018
Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU

For more information and booking, see: Future Homes for London: Alternate Models