‘On 15 July the award-winning modular Place / Ladywell development was the venue for a day-long discussion of what the Mayor and others can do to bring forward more alternative housing development in London. The event, hosted by LSE London, brought together 50 people with a range of expertise, including developers, borough planners, activists, academics and architects.
The term ‘alternative housing’ encompasses experimental and utopian schemes such as cohousing, technological innovations like flat-pack or modular housing, and models like Wikihouse that can combine the two. Some of the innovations are profit-driven, but much alternative housing is driven by residents’ desire to create housing that is community-driven, affordable and sustainable in environmental, financial and social terms.
Through her research on individual self- build trajectories, Michaela Benson kicked off the day by reminding us that housing must be approached through a social, as much as a financial, legal or policy framework and that each alternative scheme can be seen to offer critical lessons about the deep and persistent structural inequalities of the housing market in the UK. A social approach like the one lewisham has historically championed in many of its own housing initiatives can enable a welcome shift in housing and land economy for the greater benefit of society.
Housing models that are currently considered alternative, even radical, often centre around new ways of planning, designing, building and occupying homes. our discussion focused on how to ensure that the best ideas are recognised, disseminated and more widely adopted.’
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