Many of the world’s biggest cities are facing housing crises, London being one of the worst. And with more people gravitating toward major centers, there is little local governments and/or businesses could do. Otherwise, we wouldn’t get into crisis in the first place.
An interesting initiative was launched in the UK’s capital during summer 2017 to address the housing shortage. Called the SHED Project, it is a collaborative work of architecture office Studio Bark and property management company Lowe Guardians that saw affordable micro-homes being placed inside vacant buildings like warehouses across the city. Built from affordable, low-impact materials — these compact SHEDS take only one day to construct and can be easily styled into attractive tiny dwellings. Nevertheless, they are equipped with WiFi so that residents could stay “connected.”
Each SHED is built primarily of CNC-milled Smartply (formaldehyde-free Oriented Strand Board), lamb’s wool insulation that also helps with soundproofing, and recycled polycarbonate — all materials made in or around the United Kingdom.
To increase ease and speed of construction, Studio Bark designed a modular architectural system, where each panel is fitted together to create “U-Build” modules that can then be easily bolted together into the SHED frame. This model also has the added benefit of reducing construction waste, both financially and environmentally. In that sense, these pods could also be easily reused and re-appropriated.
The SHED Project is, obviously, not made for families; rather it was envisioned with young professionals looking for temporary affordable housing in mind. In fact, at the time of the project announcement, the renters — who are also known as guardians — are expected to be aged between 21-35 and in full-time employment. However, the same idea could also be applied in the future in helping alleviate homelessness and the refugee crisis.
Clusters of these pod-like structures could form neighborhoods and communities inside and serve as an alternative to property guardianship to help protect those otherwise vacant buildings from squatters and vandals. Residents are expected to assemble the modular SHEDs themselves, in order to create a sense of ownership. Also, they would presumably have shared bathroom facilities.
Aside from the primary targeted demographic, SHEDs could also be used in helping alleviate homelessness and the refugee crisis.
The SHED Project is not the ideal solution for solving the housing crisis in any city, but it gets the job done for at least some people. In London, it is meant to provide temporary housing for young professionals, but it could also be used in helping alleviate homelessness and the refugee crisis. All those cases are worth the effort, and consequently — will help any local politician advance in the eyes of the public.
A savvy company would consider contacting and exploring a partnership with Studio Bark and Lowe Guardians to bring a similar concept to its own city or country — presuming there is also a need for such low-cost accommodation. Beyond young professionals, the SHED Project could also be used to tackle homelessness and the refugee crisis. With that in mind, such a project could be pitched to the (local) government (and the media) to offer an adequate — and eco-friendly — solution for the problem(s).