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Tom King

MA work

The Mortal Home: Can a British Home exist outside of the Housing Market?

The Housing Crisis is more accurately a collection of interdependent and contradictory crises to which there can be no single solution.  In a system where the two main modes of living in Britain, owner-occupation and rental, are both controlled by the Housing Market the project considers a way to circumvent the Market altogether by proposing a new mode of living for those whom it marginalises.

Since the Housing Market is primarily driven by land values rather than building values the project aims to divorce the split personalities of the house as ‘asset’ and as ‘shelter’ by occupying land which is being ‘hoarded’ by a range of landowners and is vacant in the temporary sphere.  In this system landowners reap the benefits of an accelerated rise in the land price while users avoid the outlay for land ownership which is the root of their exclusion.  These sites offer the potential of strategically introducing homes into networks of services (water, electricity, transport, shops, parks and schools) that already exist in urban areas across Britain.

A typical vacant site in Openshaw, Manchester is employed as a testbed for this Thesis.  The area’s history of prosperity through manufacturing serves as an inspiration for the form and function of the intervention.

This proposal raises the question of whether a temporary home would be accepted by the British.  Despite Britain’s reputation of preferences for owner-occupation and ‘bricks and mortar’, statistics from immediately prior to the financial crash show that the average time between house moves was just seven years.  Indeed one modern-day survey commissioned by an estate agent found that the British get ‘bored’ of their homes after seven years and four months.  

Added to this is a phenomenon which is a key part of the British way of life; social anthropologist Kate Fox describes the home as ‘your primary expression of your identity…often involving the destruction of any evidence of the previous owner’s territorial marking.’  This leads to huge amounts of construction waste, waste of resources and waste of money.

In order to exist on temporarily-available sites and cater for the variation between people across population and time the project proposes a system to produce houses made solely from fully recyclable materials: thus resources that are put into the system can later be extracted.  Concentrating on metals and a new generation of high performance thermoplastic polymers the project proposes a technical revolution in building materials driven by the current Crisis.

The project aims to prompt discussions on the potential of bypassing the Housing Market in Britain by combining the realisation of the realities of non-permanent British modes of living, the potential of ‘meanwhile’ sites and by embracing emerging material technologies.


  • MA Degree


    School of Architecture


    MA Architecture, 2017

  • After originally qualifying as an architectural technician I worked across the UK for a number of years, including a spell in Oxford where I studied my undergraduate architecture degree part-time at Brookes University.  I chose to come to the RCA as I saw it as a healthy counterpoint to a lot of the experience I had gained and aim blend the RCA education with my previously-garnered knowledge to set up a varied career moving forward.

    My chief research interests concern the use of technical innovation to tackle social problems and the interrogation of architectural theory in real world settings.

  • Degrees

  • BA Architecture, Oxford Brookes University, 2017