UK Architects Fight Shrinking Homes

FRIDAY, MAY 3, 2013

Feeling cramped in your home? Consider this: A new one-bedroom home in the UK is now about the size of a railcar on the London Underground’s Jubilee Line—46 square meters, or 495 square feet.

That makes Britain's homes the smallest in Western Europe.

The Royal Institute of British Architects wants to change that, with larger and brighter spaces.

The association recently launched a campaign called HomeWise that calls on government officials to mandate minimum size and light standards for new homes in the country.

Not 'Rocket Science’

“This isn’t rocket science,” says British TV personality Kevin McCloud, who is the spokesman for the campaign. “We all instinctively respond to the opportunity for a view, a connection with the outdoors, fresh air, light and space.”

England does not have national minimum standards for the size of new homes, and there is limited guidance about the size and number of windows in homes, the Institute says.

The average new home in the UK has 4.8 rooms and is 76 square meters (about 818 square feet), compared to 115 square meters (around 1,238 square feet) in Holland and 137 square meters (1,474 square feet) in Denmark. (In the U.S., the average new single-family home is 2,233 square feet, according to 2011 U.S. Census data.)

Basic Needs Unmet

“People are concerned about the space and natural light when they are looking for homes, but these are not luxuries," the architects' association says. "They are basic needs which are proven to impact our health, happiness and well being."

The architects report that 69 percent of people moving into new-build homes in the UK said there wasn’t enough space for their possessions and 60 percent of people who said they would not buy a new home in the country claimed that room size was a major factor.

“The country is in the grip of the worst housing crisis in decades, and there is an urgent need to provide more affordable, quality homes,” institute president Angela Brady said.

“In their rush to build, the government must avoid the temptation to reduce current standards and give the go-ahead for builders to produce another generation of poor-quality homes, without adequate space and natural light.”

The institute urges the public to share its concerns in letters to local Members of Parliament and on social networking sites.

UK government officials will consider new building standards over the summer, the architects say.


Tagged categories: Architecture; Color; Color + Design; Design; Home builders; Lighting; Residential Construction

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