via AD : There are 600,000 abandoned and neglected buildings all over the U.K., yet affordable housing for young people is hard to come by. One property management startup and a “cost-conscious environmental architecture” firm have a creative plan to seize the opportunity; if it takes off, the implications could extend far beyond Great Britain’s borders.
Based on a property guardianship model that originated in the Netherlands, Lowe Guardians works with London landlords to install “property guardians” in otherwise unoccupied spaces. Mostly young creatives between 21 and 35, these guardians essentially do some upscale squatting in exchange for rent far below London’s exorbitant market rates. Though every “guardianed” property comes with wi-fi, utilities, and kitchen/bathroom space, 90 percent of the places anywhere from three to sixty-plus people share are intended for commercial rather than residential use.
That’s where Studio Bark’s pioneering SHED concept comes in. Built in a single day using oriented strand board, recycled polyester, and wool insulation, each SHED is a private, prefab tiny home that can be customized and reconfigured to the occupant’s liking. Because these modular dwellings are built to be broken down, transported, and reassembled as needed, Lowe uses SHED as a relatively sustainable way to strike a proper balance between community and privacy in the spaces their guardians oversee.
With U.K. rent and homelessness on the rise, while home building remains in a slump, Lowe Guardians cofounder Tim Lowe believes SHED could help mitigate the ongoing crisis. “We see real scale in being able to use this system to make a genuine change in housing in London, the U.K., and the rest of the world, helping to alleviate homelessness and providing a solution to the refugee crisis,” he says.
Jeremy Corbyn’s resurgent Labour party has already shown a willingness to tackle the housing shortage head-on, and prefab SHEDs and abandoned properties might play in their plan to provide “Secure Homes for All” in the months and years ahead. For now, take a look at the video below to see what SHED looks like in action.