An international ideas contest has been announced to reimagine a single unit of housing (Deadline: 31 July)
Open to everyone, the competition seeks radical ideas which challenge standard approaches to the design and delivery of a single residential dwelling.
The call for ideas, organised by Arch Out Loud, aims to promote debate around the future of human dwellings in response to rapid changes in society, economics and technology around the world.
US Navy Housing in Pearl Harbour
Source: Image by Bob Goodwin
According to the brief: ‘Historically, the home has been a place of permanence. Despite how chaotic our lives are, we cherish the consistency of sleeping in the same bed and performing the same daily rituals here. Yet, new trends in digitalisation and globalisation continue to reshape realms of everyday life and alter our physical environments, including our homes. It is important to examine how we adapt our living spaces to these shifts.
‘The HOME competition invites all designers to explore ideas of domestic architecture for the future. Designers may consider the impacts of global population shifts, proximity of major cities to coastlines, new materials and building techniques, as well as the rise of co-housing, tiny homes, smart houses and marketplaces like Airbnb. HOME creates a platform to speculate the ways new technological, political, environmental and cultural changes can redefine the spaces where we live.’
The world is home to around 6.5 billion people spread across around 1.5 billion households – with housing solutions ranging enormously across geographic regions and socio-economic groups.
Housing shortages in developed countries and rapid changes in wage growth and employment conditions have seen renewed interest in alternative forms of housing including micro-dwellings, co-housing and build-to-rent.
Tin Fu Court in Hong Kong
Source: Image by Baycrest
The latest competition seeks radical ideas to transform the performance of a single unit of housing. Concepts may focus on a single-family, multi-family or larger system-based structure in any location in the world.
Submissions should include a digital display board and a 200-word written explanation. Judges include Bureau Spectacular founder Jimenez Lai, architect and filmmaker Liam Young and Andrew Zago of Zago Architecture.
The overall winner, to be announced 31 August, will receive a $2,500 prize. An innovation award, adaptability award and pragmatic award worth $1,000 each will also be handed out.
How to apply
The deadline for submissions is 1 August.
Early registration from 3 April to 4 June: $60
Final registration from 5 June to 31 July: $80
Visit the competition website for more information
Trailer case study: Q&A with Piers Taylor
The founder of Invisible Studio discusses lessons learned creating a low-cost demountable housing solution in England
How will your project create a small-scale, low-cost and easily transportable temporary dwelling?
The Trailer project is designed to fit around a set of legislative rules: it is the maximum height and width that can easily be transported on a highway, and being a relocatable structure also navigates around a set of restrictive planning guidelines. The transportable aspect also works in terms of construction: for the prototype, rather than towing the building once completed onto an inaccessible site, the kit of structural parts was loaded onto the trailer chassis, towed to location, and reassembled. It is super low cost - which in many ways is a result of the loose-fit design. It uses local timber, milled close by, in standard 125mm x 50mm identical sections for everything, saving money on milling and reducing material wastage, and any number of different, relatively low-grade unseasoned timbers could have been used, depending on location. It’s endlessly repeatable, could work in any number of contexts and configurations, and our design is open source and free for anyone to use and adapt.
Trailer by Invisible Studio
Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?
Whilst the form of the Trailer project is designed around a set of highways guidelines around the shape and size of objects that can be transported, the materials are designed to be as cost-effective as possible, sourced entirely from agricultural merchants and construction salvage sites. The same materials are ubiquitous and available worldwide, or could easily be substituted for alternatives, but the dimensions of the Trailer are designed to minimise wastage from standard size sheet materials. The multi-layer polycarbonate is the most cost-effective mechanism of bringing in high levels of natural light, saving money on glazing. The entire project was also constructed by labour that had little construction experience, providing a prototype for other communities where building skills are scarce.
Trailer by Invisible Studio
What advice would you have to contest participants on rethinking the future of housing to meet the world’s challenges?
Too often architects imagine a high tech utopian future that has no bearing on the availability of materials or resources in local or rural contexts. The best solutions - like the best housing that exists worldwide - are often low tech and straightforward, rather than spatially and technically complex. The best housing also needs to be unprecious, loose fit, and easily adaptable. Housing isn’t ‘house’ design but looking at much wider issues of cost, construction, repeatability, residence, versatility and the mechanisms of navigating local regulatory frameworks. However, issues of quality of space, beauty and dignity need to be taken into account, and there are no reasons these qualities cannot sit comfortably in a super low-cost dwelling.
Trailer by Invisible Studio