Wood Blocks is a revolutionary new housing typology which has the potential to significantly speed up the delivery of new housing, and make it affordable to people of all ages and incomes, including the self-employed. Just as shell and core is now common practice in office buildings, here we have proposed the same strategy for residential. It “scales up” the growing appetite for self-build as a more affordable typology and as way of creating the homes people really want.
Shell and core resi provides “ready to camp in” housing: a structural, weather-proof, thermally and acoustically insulated shell which can later be partitioned and fit-out according to its inhabitants desires. Excluding internal fit-outs could reduce the cost (to the developer/house-builder) of building new homes by 40%1 and the duration of construction by 25%2 – delivering faster, cheaper housing.
Engineered timber is the material of choice for the proposed shell and core residential developments. Its sustainable credentials are impeccable: a carbon hoarding material with added insulation value and no cold-bridging problems. As a pre-fabricated, dry-trade material, it was much quicker to build with and less disruptive: creating less dust, noise, mess and hazards on construction sites.
This is how the Wood Blocks proposal can benefit all parties involved:
Good for Londoners:
Cheaper housing. Autonomy to create your own layout and interiors, without having to worry about structure or weatherproofing, and to choose the quality of fittings, rather than the generic, often low-quality ones provided by developers.
Good for Local Authorities:
More housing. Faster housing. Cheaper housing. Utilises brownfield sites. Owners/tenants maintain property.
Good for developers:
Greater turnover by cutting construction costs and duration.
Good for the economy:
Less monopoly. More distribution between large developers/contractors and small, independent contractors, tradespeople and craftspeople.
Good for the creative industries, craftspeople, small contractors:
It opens up a more diversified market, with fewer middle men and therefore better pay.
Good for the environment:
Less carbon: by using engineered timber instead of reinforced concrete we can create carbon-neutral or even carbon-hoarding buildings. Less waste from people ripping out unwanted interiors; these homes are blank canvases from the start.