Thursday, October 11, 2018

Shoebox Housing

In 2014, the average new-build in the UK was 76 sq m, the smallest in Europe (Danish homes were almost double the size, research by the University of Cambridge showed).

 The average living room in a house built in the 1970s, meanwhile, was 25 sq m, compared to 17 today, according to LABC Warranty.

 In 1912 the Local Government Board recommended that no house should be smaller than 79.4 sq m. 

Flats appeared in space guidelines in a 1961 report of the Parker Morris committee. One-person, single-storey flats should be at least 29.7 sq m, it said, with 2.6 sq m of storage.

This summer a seven-floor former office block in Ilford, east London, which had been divided into flats. Planning records showed that each of the six upper floors in the building had been converted into 10 studios, including single flats of just 13 sq m. By current standards, these flats are barely a third of the recommended size. Park was instrumental in drawing up the “nationally described space standard”, a nationwide metric implemented by the government in 2015. It recommends 37 sq m for a one-person, one-bedroom flat; a two-person, one-bedroom flat should be 50 sq m.

 A team that visited more than 500 converted office buildings for a report published last May by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. “We were shocked by how many of these flats were of a very poor quality,” says Clifford, a senior lecturer in spatial planning and government at University College London’s Bartlett school of planning. In one, Clifford called the fire brigade after spotting walls dividing flats made only of plywood. “We spoke to one resident who was in a tiny one-bed flat with two children and no balconies or open space,” he says. “Another woman, in an 80s office building, said it just wasn’t very nice to live in a flat with big tinted windows that don’t open.

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