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Levitt Bernstein wins self-build ideas contest

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Levitt Bernstein has won a high-profile ideas contest judged by Kevin McCloud for a series of sustainable self-build homes costing less than £75,000 each

The AJ100 practice defeated five rival teams – including Mole Architects and John Broome Architects – to win the £5,000 top prize.

The National Custom & Self-Build Association-organised contest sought proposals for 20 ‘cost effective, green and beautiful’ self-build homes on a 2,000m² urban site.

Levitt Bernstein’s winning scheme – estimated to cost £70,076 per unit excluding land – featured a water-proof timber frame shell which self-builders can complete themselves and easily extend.

McCloud said: ‘I was very taken by the way this solution delivered the best of all worlds. The basic structure was professionally built to a good standard, so that the families could then finish off the homes to their own designs and tastes.’

He continued: ‘The design was also very clever in that it allowed people to almost seamlessly add or subtract extensions – so the development could adapt to match the needs of the people who lived there.’

Circle Housing and self-build community group Naked House worked with Levitt Bernstein to develop the design.

The contest – dubbed ‘Self Build in the City’ – received more than 30 entries from the UK and abroad.

Levitt Bernstein’s scheme was the third most expensive of the six projects shortlisted for the award.

The full shortlist of proposals

  • Tom Randle of Levitt Bernstein with Naked House and Circle Anglia. A timber frame shell self-builders can complete themselves and easily extend. Average cost £70,076
  • James Peat of Alston Murphy Associates. Terraced housing featuring a simple andflexible modular timber panel system. Average cost £57,410
  • Craig More of MORE Design. The contractor delivers a structural concrete frame and floor while the individual flats are completed by self-builders. Average cost £73,273
  • Meredith Bowles of Mole Architects. The contractor completes the foundations, concrete frame and roof while the self-builders finish the homes. Average cost £69,181
  • John Broome of John Broome Architects. Two blocks of split-level eco homes share a large south-facing garden and other communal facilities. Average cost £67,100
  • Anna Hope of Ecomotive. A timber framed modular structure with energy efficient features. Average cost £71,391


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