Can we still build affordable housing during the recession?

Hello again readers,

this week I will continue the loose theme that I began a few weeks ago: housing.  I will begin by discussing the recently “inspected” website Building for Life.

Newmediaage magazine rated the site 73/100, which I think is quite respectable for an “architecture” website, but as Newmediaage magazine pointed out, the site does lack extensive content and video.  There is also limited user interaction.

Content 14/25
Usability 23/25
Branding 22/25
Monetisation 14/25

However, the site is impressive in its coverage of the new housing scheme Accordia, which recently won the Stirling Prize and Building for life award.

Accordia won a Building for Life award in 2006 and went on to win the Stirling Prize in 2008, an extraordinary achievement because this was the first time that a housing scheme ever secured the Stirling Prize.  It is worth noting that Accordia has a significant number of affordable units – a third of the scheme’s 378 dwellings. ~ Building for Life

It would seem that even though the world was teetering on the brink of a recession this did not distract us from one pressing issue – the urgent need for affordable housing in England.

It may seem odd though, that a “simple” housing scheme should win an award such as the Stirling Prize.

Keith Bradley … at the end of his keynote speech, commented: “This is what I would regard as a good piece of ordinariness. Although very specific to its place – and time – there are some simple transferable principles that it advocates.” ~ Building For Life (Edited by Mark Ellery)

Photo by Tim Crocker

High architectural quality by Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects (65%), Maccreanor Lavington (25%) and Alison Brooks Architects (10%) offers an exciting range of design, especially in the private housing. ~ Building for Life

For a series of sketch drawings download the page below:

Page Layout by Mark Ellery, drawings are the property of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Alison Brooks Architects, and Maccreanor Lavington Architects

Surely if house prices have come down people can afford them now?  But is the recession hitting us all so hard that if we could afford a mortgage we can no longer get one?  Are the banks being so tight with their money that they will no longer lend to an average couple with a moderate combined income?

The Architects Journal recently (26.02.09) published results from it’s survey, it revealed some alarming information:

75% of Architectural Practices are hiring fewer students.

72% of students have had trouble finding work after qualifying.

If a company that previously entered housing competitions can no longer afford to hire (cheap) newly qualified architects pr Part 2 assistants can they afford to continue entering competitions that they don’t win?  Could this mean LESS entries to competitions, and as a consequence a lower standard of design?  I will be honest: the thought scares me …

Come back next week to follow my coverage of the recession, housing, competitions, and more importantly – students struggling to find work


7 Responses to “Can we still build affordable housing during the recession?”

  1. Craig on March 9th, 2009

    well written piece. i will be looking forward to your next edition.
    On the housing subject however I think during the recession its the best time to build more social housing.
    Its after all the time that people loose jobs and hence can’t afford rent and need housing. Problem with the recession is that even though the prices are down…you won’t be able to get a loan to buy. Unless all this bailout money can actually be made available directly to house buyers.

  2. killion on March 9th, 2009

    Part of the help could be the planned housing schemes by say the GLA:

    But problem is they are just too little and too few. Who will get these schemes too will be very interesting. I am sure when times get tough..the bigger companies who had gone off to Dubai will come back and use their power and influence to sweep everything leaving the smaller firms to go bust.
    It’s going to be a doggy world…

  3. Mark Ellery on March 10th, 2009

    Thanks Craig, glad to see you are enjoying my articles :-)

    I agree I too believe that the recession is a good opportunity for the housing sector, if the “technicalities” can be ironed out this could be the start of something great.. like a “nationalised house building organisation”…. its something I will be discussing in my next blog

  4. Mark Ellery on March 17th, 2009

    maybe the next question should not be “can we still build affordable housing during the recession?” BUT can “we build SUSTAINABLE housing during the recession?”

    It is encouraging to hear that Kevin McCloud has submitted his centre for sustainable construction (by London-based practice Consarc) for planning.

    Consarc -

  5. Mark on July 13th, 2010

    Fielden Clegg wins housing award –

  6. Mark Ellery on March 28th, 2011

    I just learnt about a very interesting social housing development in New York (Watch “American Ganster” – you will know what I mean). I cant believe I had never heard of “the projects” before but they are certainly eye opening, take a look at a few of these links to learn more –

    Try not to be too scared

  7. Housing Scheme on January 9th, 2012

    I think that housing schemes are helping more people secure a new home, there are loads in our area when you only have to pay 5% deposit and also a new one where you can get 100% mortgage. They developments companies really are doing a lot to help people out.

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