Architecture comes into its own when met the strict boundaries of a social housing project. Primarily challenged by budgets, architects must also consider small plot size, the wider community, longevity, and aesthetics. In the UK when thinking of social housing the mind jumps to large, grey tower blocks and pebble dash. Other countries have often based their housing on the same idea of high rise, high density concrete buildings. But the ideals they were based on are rarely suitable anymore, and in a several cases they have had a negative impact on their residents and communities.
Urban Rural Systems are putting forward a new system with The Expandable House. Built in the town of Nongsa, Indonesia, the architects are clearly playing with the limits set out on their brief, they have put in a place a machine for living in. A building that can accommodate resident fluctuations, weather the elements, and provide energy, all built in local materials.
The house was designed to be added to. The third floor was a later addition, allowing local councils and residents flexibility. Formatted like this, the house encourages co-living and strong family units, as rather than being uprooted and moved, growing families can live comfortably in one place. The community would similarly benefit as it would be rooted on a much firmer base of local residents.
Adaptability is the real driving concept though. In times like these it is a prize trait in any hard-hit community. With the building being able to support commercial activity as well as very young and old people it’s easy to imagine the kind of communities that could flourish with dwellings like this. What we need now is administrations brave enough to break out of their (concrete) boxes.