Earlier this month, London-based firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Parnters saw the completion of its modular homeless shelter in Mitcham, South London.
The project was developed over the last few years in partnership with YMCA London South West, making the unit the YMCA’s first factory-built “move-on” housing scheme. This scheme is meant to provide temporary housing for homeless or lower-income citizens until they are able to afford a a more permanent living arrangement.
Originally seen in a 2013 exhibition, the firm’s Homeshell design has been adapted to provide relief to the United Kingdom's urgent housing needs. Called the Y:Cube, the project is meant to help young people who are struggling to get into the housing market. Rent is calculated at 65 percent of the local market value, allowing the residents to save money for a future home in the private housing market.
The interlocking modular system enables the units to stack on top or alongside each other, with easy connection of water, heating, and electricity to other units, making the system perfect for tight urban sites. The easily assembled units can be constructed and set up in two weeks, and are designed to move between temporary sites in London.
Each brightly painted 279-square-foot unit consists of a combined living room and kitchen, with a separate bedroom and bathroom suite. Designed with sustainable materials, primarily renewable timber, the units are so well insulated that they require little or no heating, even in the winter months.
Half of the new tenants come from YMCA hostels, while the other half are from a local housing waiting list. With keen interest coming from several other local authorities, the YMCA is looking at a number of other sites for the Y:Cube model. The firm claims there is space to build a further half a million houses on several vacant plots across London.
In addition to expanding the Y:Cube across London, the firm is working on a similar model aimed at families and startup businesses in Lewisham—a borough within South London.