UK housing minister Christopher Pincher has announced a landmark contest to design new ‘homes fit for the future’
The competition – organised by the RIBA with support from the Building Research Establishment, MOBIE and the Design Council – seeks proposals for high-quality, low-carbon and age-friendly homes which could be rolled out to boost quality of life for the country’s growing elderly population.
It aims to recognise the ‘highest standards of age-adaptable design’ and follows the government’s recent consultation on a Future Homes Standard, which would require all new homes built from 2025 to have 80 per cent less carbon emissions.
Six shortlisted teams will each receive £40,000 to draw up detailed, site-specific plans for 100 homes in a growth area outside London. Three winners will be invited to work with Homes England development partners to explore the possibility of developing bids for a series of government-owned plots.
Pincher said: ‘This competition will harness all that technology has to offer to bring in a housing revolution: new low carbon homes that deliver low energy bills and independent living for older generations.
‘The new gold standard of building will have the future in mind – not just in the United Kingdom, but worldwide.’
Social care minister Helen Whately said: ‘We want everyone, regardless of age, to live healthier, more independent lives. I’m looking forward to seeing great ideas for homes that will meet people’s needs with older age, and be somewhere you would have pleasure in living.
‘Building homes with all generations in mind will help us achieve our Ageing Society Grand Challenge and its mission to make sure we can all enjoy an additional five extra years of healthy, independent life by 2035.’
Elli Thomas, lead programme manager on the Home of 2030 project at the Design Council, said: ‘We will all want different things from our homes in the future, but this means new ideas and innovation now to make it happen. Sustainability, accessibility, affordability and health have been big themes from our public engagement work so far.
‘There is a huge amount of sector knowledge in these areas already, so we want to encourage entries from right across the built environment community – not just architectural practices of every size but modular homes pioneers, larger housebuilders, contractors, designers, innovators and other supply chain partners. If you haven’t considered entering an architectural competition previously, this could be the one for you.’
Christopher Pincher became the 10th housing minister since 2010 following the departure of Esther McVey in last month’s ministerial clear-out. At the start of February, protesters demonstrated outside the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) against the ‘unambitious’ new Part L, which covers conservation of fuel and power in the home, and Part F, which relates to ventilation.
According to the government, the regulatory changes form part of its strategy to create a Future Homes Standard by 2025, aimed at encouraging low-carbon heating and creating ‘world-leading levels of energy efficiency’. The alterations to the Regs are seen as a milestone towards the government’s target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
However, campaigners say the proposed new standards fall woefully short, adding that the Future Homes Standard did not consider the embodied carbon of buildings. There are concerns, too, about a move to strip forward-thinking local authorities of their powers to set higher energy efficiency standard.
Proposals for the ‘Home of 2030’ design contest must appeal to a wide variety of age groups and deliver adaptable solutions suitable for the changing needs of residents as they grow older. Schemes should also promote better health and wellbeing while harnessing innovative technology and construction techniques to deliver net-zero carbon emissions.
Anonymous phase one submissions must offer low embodied carbon in their construction and supply chain, harness low carbon technologies, and aim for minimal energy demand through fabric and system efficiency. Phase two submissions must consider fabric and system efficiency attributes, efficient and responsible sourcing, material efficiency and whole life carbon reduction, and predict anticipated performance in-use.
The second round will focus on a proposed parcel of up to 100 homes in a growth area outside the capital. Concepts must ’respond to local distinctiveness and provide opportunity for community cohesion’ and include a typical street frontage for around 12 homes with detailed configurations for at least two different typologies.
The competition aims to identify concepts which are highly deliverable and scalable so they can be ‘rolled-out across the country.’ Applications will be judged 60 per cent on response to the brief, 25 per cent on overall quality, and 15 per cent on creativity and innovation.
The deadline for applications is 15 April.
How to apply
Visit the competition website for more information
Gilli Hobbs, project director for Home of 2030 at BRE
Why are your holding a competition for the Home of 2030?
The Home of 2030 competition seeks to develop a home that will help tackle the key challenges facing our society. It focuses on solving multiple issues: to generate new typologies and products that are age friendly and inclusive, address health and wellbeing but at the same time harness new and evolving techniques and technologies for a low carbon and energy efficient future. The competition is focused on deliverability, cost-effectiveness and design quality and addressing gaps that there may be in the market, whether that be due to demographic changes in an ageing population, the increasing demands on our health care system, or patterns in our working lives and the increasing demand for smarter technology.
The public engagement carried out in formulating the brief for the competition shows emerging recognition that there is a general dissatisfaction with current housing options and growing appetite for fresh thinking and innovation to encourage community cohesion, inclusiveness and increased social connections. This, when coupled with active lifestyles, contributes to greater independence, healthy ageing and better support mechanisms in times of crisis.
It is also worth mentioning that we ran an Innovation Challenge for products and systems as a precursor to the main competition, also a Young Person’s Design Challenge which has just closed. Information and ideas from both initiatives, as well as findings from industry engagement, are being fed into the main competition.
What would you like to see in responses to the contest brief?
There are four themes in the competition
- · Age friendly design and inclusive living
- · Low environmental impact
- · Healthy living
- · Deliverable and scalable
Phase 1 of the competition is not onerous. It invites teams to illustrate a multidisciplinary approach to a deliverable housing concept which can be configured at different densities/scales. It is not site-specific, and entries are submitted anonymously. After evaluation, a shortlist of six entries will be selected for progression to Phase 2 and will be identified for publicity purposes.
The Phase 2 brief will require the shortlisted teams to develop their concept from Phase 1 in sufficient detail for evaluation to satisfy the requirement for a deliverable product for an identified site (outside London) in a growth area for a proposed parcel of up to 100 homes. Land will be identified by Homes England in the form of a serviced site with key infrastructure in place within a large-scale phased mixed development.
How you will measure submissions’ sustainability claims?
All this will be evaluated in detail in Phase 2 of the competition. However, at this point in time we are expecting to look at energy use intensity in kilowatt hours per square metre in line with current aspirational targets and the net zero ambition. For embodied carbon, we will we will look for a whole life carbon approach at Phase 1 and assess in detail at Phase 2. We will also develop metrics and a level of ambition for other environmental considerations such as responsible sourcing and circular economy. The exact information will be presented in the Phase 2 brief and this will also include insights from the ongoing Home of 2030 industry engagement, Young Person’s design challenge and public engagement.
What sort of architects, designers and innovators are you hoping will apply?
We are hoping to stimulate a wide range of ideas, designs, products and solutions, from across the industry and seeking initial responses from designers, developers, SMEs, contractors, funders and product suppliers, as well as landowners (including local authorities), to propose practical ideas to address the brief in different contexts.