December 31 2013

Space Standards Continue Shrinking in the United Kingdom

Recently, Governments within the United Kingdom have proposed a housing standards review considering the minimum space standards. First announced in 2010, the government stressed the need for an industry-led examination of housing standards. This topic was aroused by the shocking statistics of new homes that were being built at smaller sizes than the already existing homes.

In accordance to other countries within Europe, the UK generally has a low average size for housing (displayed below). Building new homes at a smaller size would evidently be deemed as even more cramped. The amount of space for a house affects a person’s quality of life, and hence needs great attention.

Average House Sizes

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has established a campaign in support of the Governments proposal called ‘The Case for Space.’ Emphasizing the benefits of increasing the minimum space standards for housing, RIBA also provide the negatives that some have commented on. A main conflicting view is whether bigger homes mean fewer homes.

Fewer homes would result in a lack of affordability, creating even more difficulty for new homeowners to be on the property ladder. The cost of building new homes would also increase between 1 and 10%, which would result in the basic becoming the new exclusive. This is because if the cost of the building and the property increases, the cost to the buyer would increase. Furthermore, the cost would make the exclusive even more exclusive. For instance, the image below displays a recent housing development within the exclusive bracket. If these apartments were built after the minimum standards are declared, then perhaps they will lie half empty with people not being able to afford their cost.

Hill Street White Back Drop, Belfast, Ireland

RIBA conducted detailed research that showed the inclusion of a designer would be able to avoid reducing the number of homes on a site. Furthermore, in the research it was emphasized that the use of new technology would provide even more space saving ideas and tools; meaning bigger homes for a smaller plot of land.

RIBA’s research emphasizes the importance of designers in the design of the built environment and the future wellbeing of inhabitants.

The Governments proposal is still being considered, so where should the United Kingdom set it’s minimum space standard for the housing industry? How would you react if your Government imposed a minimum space standard?

Credits: Images by James Foskett. Data linked to sources.

James Foskett

James Foskett is currently in his last year of Architecture undergraduate study at Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland. Born in Devon, England, he has always had a passion for the Built Environment and therefore is planning on finishing his Architectural education by doing an MArch and possibly a Phd. Inspired by travel, his main interests are contextual designs that contribute greatly to the people that use them. From an Environmental Science background, he is also interested in sustainability and the effects of the life cycle of a building upon it's surroundings.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 at 9:47 am and is filed under Architecture, Blogging Team, Community/Economic Development, Government/Politics, Housing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “Space Standards Continue Shrinking in the United Kingdom”

  1. Rob Says:

    Here’s a thought – many new house styles built in the UK appear cramped from the outset – part of the problem is the obsession with house prices and the link between room numbers (especially bedrooms) and the price that an agent (and homeowner) thinks the property might then command.

    The downside is this largely ignores the actual needs of the occupiers, and we end up with detached house in the main having 4 or 5 bedrooms (sometimes of course more), semis having 2 or 3 etc. A 2 bedroom detached house with comfortable sized living spaces? Circulation spaces larges than the absolute minimum? Rarer than hen’s teeth…

    Good design might try to build a home that way, but sadly the profit margins of the developer, agent and financial aspirations of the homeowner tend towards cramming more rooms into the available space, and more house plots into the developers land banks.

  2. Michael Says:

    I would have to agree with Rob here – spot on! New builds are ridiculous in price considering the size of the property. Firstly, the size of the property can not compete with older houses whilst the character of the house is like a blank canvas with no room to improve it! With the amount of small new builds happening across UK; we will be an even more densely populated country!

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