How can a city add affordable apartments to a neighborhood with no room for new buildings? London architects Levitt Bernstein recently won a Building Trust competition with their new solution: pop-up modular homes inside unused parking garages.
In Hackney, a low-income neighborhood in northeast London, it’s less and less common for residents to own cars. Public transportation has improved in the city, and cars are expensive. Rows of garages sit empty, making the streets look lifeless and encouraging crime.
The design calls for pre-fab units that slip easily into unused garages and become temporary homes for homeless Londoners. The simple construction of the homes will become part of an apprenticeship program, giving some residents the unique opportunity to help build their own homes.
The design includes a bedroom and bathroom, with communal kitchens, dining, and laundry in every fifth space. By using passive building techniques, no heating or cooling is needed.
The homes are also designed to be temporary, because the neighborhood is changing and the garages may be removed for new buildings in a few years. Thanks to their modular design, the homes can easily be removed from the garages and reinstalled somewhere else.
Levitt Bernstein's next steps will be working with local planning commissions and partnering NGOs to make the project real. In the meantime, a similar project is taking shape in Australia, where Mulloway Studios is transforming underused parking lots in Adelaide to homes for at-risk youth. Mulloway won an honorable mention in the Building Trust competition.