Living in harmony

How will society be living in future?

For this competition we challenged architects to think closely about how society will be living in the decades to come. The unaffordability of land in the UK’s cities is making independent home ownership untenable for many. This can often result in multiple generations of the same family finding themselves living under the same roof, in unsatisfactory ad hoc arrangements.

In response to the rising popularity of the extended family model we asked architects to create unfettered, imaginative proposals that imagine how future generations might be able to live together on a single footprint. 

With no set site, the architects were free to propose any new mode of adaption that would make an existing dwelling suitable for multi-generational living. The only constraint was that the addition could only increase the usable area of the family property by up to 35m² and that designers must create an independent unit with separate access.

The entrants did not disappoint, with a variety of well-thought-out proposals that extend out and up from existing houses, along with a selection of entirely new structures that interacted in various ways with existing homes. 

Designed for returning young adults, students, middle-aged or elderly individuals, the projects that faired best with the judges were those that tackled the issues at hand while taking best advantage of the intrinsic structural properties of SterlingOSB.

After extensive deliberation the judges narrowed the multiple proposals down to four projects that best exemplified the aims of the competition –  these are the schemes featured here. 

Choosing a winner from the four proved a difficult task. We asked for blue-sky thinking and that is what we got. This of course meant that we were presented with a wide range of solutions to many different problems. 

The judges were incredibly impressed by the flexibility of the design which would not only work on the architect’s chosen site, but could also be successfully adapted to provide additional independent space for numerous properties around the UK

While all the proposals embraced the need to consider, and implicate, innovative solutions to increasing density, it was Burgess Architects’ proposal that stood out as the design that interacted best with the existing building while retaining independence for the resident. Not only did its design embrace the qualities of SterlingOSB, it also has real-life potential to be implemented. 

The judges were incredibly impressed by the flexibility of the design which would not only work on the architect’s chosen site, but could also be successfully adapted to provide additional independent space for numerous properties around the UK. 

The two proposals that were just beaten by Burgess Architects’ scheme also  thoughtfully created an idea that could be developed on multiple sites. Both Barefoot Architects ‘Back Garden City’ and Sibylle Metge-Toppin and Claire Chabrol’s ‘The Possibilities are Endless’ looked to increase density through the addition of a structure in the rear gardens of existing buildings. In the end the judges couldn’t split these proposals, and in fact concluded that combining elements of both would have created the winning project. As such, both were declared joint runners-up.
S+ Architecture’s sleek pavilion-like structure was also highly commended.

Overall this was a thought-provoking exercise with the entrants rising to the challenge and seriously considering how we will live in the future. We hope the projects will inspire others to think creatively about increasing density in our cities, and how to plan better for multi-generational living.


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