Here are some ideas I apply when designing affordable and sustainable housing. Affordable housing doesn’t have to be boring it’s about being smart in the design process.
Fundamentally, it’s firstly all about orientating the living areas to the north and minimising the building walls and windows and locating service areas to the west. A generous roof overhang can shade the harsh summer sun and allow the warming winter sun in therefore having a comfortable internal temperature and reducing cooling and heating costs over the buildings life.
It’s great to have a thinner building with a logical linear layout that makes use of all the floor area meaning no wasted space. A good smaller footprint where the space is in proportion to the client’s needs that has multifunctional areas gives the building a greater performance.
Simple but interesting roof lines can work with the orientation and can allow for installation of solar panels for optimum performance. By maximising the northern sun access and aligning windows and doors to make sure breezes can easily pass through the building in both directions will allow a cooler and better ventilated home.
Lightweight low maintenance claddings can be selected that have a reduced environmental impact and the building can be designed around the material module to reduce usage, therefore reduce cost and minimise waste. In cooler locations thermal mass walls can be used in areas that get access to the winter sun to regulate the temperature.
Clever dual purpose design can minimise the required fittings and fixtures and service areas can be located closer together which reduces additional plumbing installation.
Reducing the number of specialty trades required on a build can reduce the cost and exploring alternative materials and design ideas for example plywood linings to eliminate plastering or open wet room showers to eliminate glass screens. In some places Timber posts and beams may be suitable instead of galvanised steel with a higher cost and embodied energy.
Affordable and sustainable housing design should be about creativity, exploring the processes and seeing how something could be done differently to achieve a good design.