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Max headroom

By exploiting volume, we can build homes with 25 per cent extra floor space - and help tackle the housing crisis, writes Roger Zogolovitch

The world obsesses about 3D glasses and 3D printing in an attempt to emulate our own experience - we are 3D beings ourselves. With that in mind, at Solidspace we explore space in the home as volume, rather than area.

Our homes provide us with shelter, protection and solace, and we all want more space. Our design typology aims to use volume to create a greater sense of space, light and character. We measure in volume - cubic metres rather than the standard square metres. With our volumetric approach to split-level living, we embrace the volumetric perception of space.

In our projects we remove walls between the volumes and shift them in section. They are offset at half-levels. This gives just enough height to see from one to the other. We carefully position windows, lights, bannisters and different functions to enliven and enrich the full sense of the interior spaces.

volume

At Stapleton Hall Road, north London, we built two family houses with architect Stephen Taylor that explore the ingenuity of filling a gap site at the end of a terrace backing on to a railway: to many, an impossible site; to us, a challenge. The houses illustrate the way in which the Solidspace split-level approach can drive the creation of engaging and special volumes.

The houses each have an Eat/Live/Work space, a ‘green zone’ on the upper floor with a roof terrace as the master bedroom, a ‘stoop’ that connects street level to the half-level and a stair that spirals up through the building with several half-level landings. We all need cardiovascular exercise and climbing steps frequently throughout the day is perfect for the heart. It’s all part of the benefits of volume.

In these days of intrusive regulations that govern how we live, the London mayor’s space standards don’t acknowledge the importance of volume for human enjoyment and appreciation of space. Our use of volume and void is the equivalent of around 25 per cent additional floor space.

Plans

We love the void and the volume over our heads. We love the space and the sense of well-being we get from the interior. We benefit from views over our own interior split-level landscape which has been transformed by volume into topography.

At another site, 100 Union Street in Southwark, we are awaiting planning consent for a 1:1 temporary installation of a 129m3 (40m²) urban living cell for one or two people. After construction in the autumn we will be inviting the public to view, stay and comment. We want to share the experience and understand the feedback of people of all ages. We will be investigating this project as a pilot for designing cellular multi-level homes for the private rental sector.

The housing supply shortage must be tackled, and out of this challenge springs the opportunity to investigate new ways of living. We need radical and imaginative solutions. With housing costs running ever higher, we need to find ways of making space both generous and compact. We believe that our volumetric approach is a contribution to this ongoing enquiry.

If space is the question, volume is the answer.

Roger Zogolovitch is creative director and founder of developer Solidspace

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