Judges’ comments

What our judges said...

Toby Carr, associate, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects
Toby Carr, associate, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects

The competition raised questions about the social implications of multi-generational housing, balancing semi-independent living with the support of a family or community. How can we address the stigma of moving back in with your parents or living at the bottom of your grown-up children’s garden?
Semi-autonomous solutions with flexible space meet both temporary needs and longer term challenges.  

Toby Carr, associate, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects

Julia Park, head of housing research, Levitt Bernstein
Julia Park, head of housing research, Levitt Bernstein

Multi-general living can strengthen family bonds, reduce isolation and potentially cut care costs. Granny won’t last forever, so it’s important to build in the flexibility to use the space in other ways and there are plenty of possibilities – a teenage child, lodger, live-close-to friend, home office etc. 

The only real downside is that it could make larger scale redevelopment even more difficult. Suburban densities need to be substantially increased and many semis are now nearing the end of their useful lives. If people have invested in granny pads they will be less likely to sell up from choice, and if authorities have to resort to compulsory purchase orders it means more upset people and more compensation to pay out. 

Julia Park, head of housing research, Levitt Bernstein

Stephen Proctor, founding director, Proctor and Matthews
Stephen Proctor, founding director, Proctor and Matthews

The most interesting entrants looked to wider issues – adding a variety of unit types to a repetitive suburban landscape while addressing specific lifestyles. These entries – an independent starter pad annex for a ‘university returner’ through the lightweight infill of a 1930s semi-detached streetscape, a ‘Back Garden City’ that offered the possibility of a community of starter homes, elderly annexes, and (most promising) co-housing clusters at the heart of a typical suburban perimeter block of back-to-back gardens – all triggered an interesting discussion about the pros and cons of the low key, almost covert, revitalisation and densification of the fringes of our towns and cities.

Stephen Proctor, founding director, Proctor and Matthews

Daniel Kerr, director and co-founder, Mawson Kerr
Daniel Kerr, director and co-founder, Mawson Kerr

So often it is the house that we currently live in that has to be adapted for changing circumstances and accommodating the evolving family unit, whether this is due to financial constraints, lack of alternatives or just wanting to create a home with our mark on it. This competition has given an insight into the vast array of possibilities of off-site modular construction and brings to the fore the need for inventive ideas for our existing housing stock to meet the demands of modern and future living. 

Daniel Kerr, director and co-founder, Mawson Kerr


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