The architect and presenter of Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces and The Restoration Man thinks that prefabricated homes could be the answer to the housing crisis.
'When people talk about prefabricated,they generally begin to think of poor-quality post-war buildings that were erected very quickly to meet the needs of a growing population. They also served the purpose of keeping open factories that had been created during the war to make munitions. When I was a kid, prefab meant the awful, damp, flat-roofed boxes in the school playground that were used as temporary classrooms. They were boiling hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter, with ice on the ceiling and condensation running down the windows. Not great, but I honestly believe that system-built structures are the future of UK housing. We need homes that can be built more efficiently, to a higher standard and in a more affordable way. In February 2013, the Government published its Offsite Housing Review, which concluded that prefabricated homes had a major part to play in providing housing for the growing population.
We should be using more prefabricated elements in the construction of apartments and should introduce prefabricated homes when we build low-rise housing estates. Probably the best-known home system of this type is the Huf Haus, but its image in the UK has been associated with the construction of large, expensive houses in places like Surrey. Well, Huf has developed a smaller, more affordable factory-built home called the Huf Haus Modum (pictured), which is more energy efficient and uses less glass, so is cheaper to build; the 5:10 Modum costs €375,000 (approx £310,800). Even though it is a standardised construction system, the design is anything but ordinary. There needs to be a revolution in the UK construction industry to solve the housing crisis, and high-quality, factory-built homes have a major role to play.
Furniture-in-a-box concept for small spaces
'After two series of George Clarke's Amazing Spaces for Channel 4, it's now widely known that I'm obsessed by ingenious and inventive space-saving ideas. But the Boxetti furniture
range from Latvian company EL Studija is one of the most fun, quirky and brilliant designs I have ever come across. It does exactly what is says on the tin. Kind of like a Transformer toy, each module opens up to reveal an amazing multi-functional unit. The Lounge version turns into a three-seater sofa with removable blocks of occasional tables and a foldable desk; the Lunch module has a built-in sink, fridge, oak cutting board, plus two extendable bar seats. They are ideal for a small room or studio apartment; I wish I'd had something like this when I was a student at university. What a brilliant example of space-saving, multifunctional design.' Prices start at €9,200 euros (approx £7,568) for the Boxetti Lunch kitchen module (+37 122 034 804; boxetti.com).