Exploring the future of housing

Published 6 January 2015

This spring, the RA presents a season of debates, talks and an exhibition on the future of housing – sure to be a hot topic in election year.

  • Where we live, how we live, how much it costs us both individually and as a society – the debate about the future of housing in the UK has grown increasingly urgent in recent years. Now with the country in the grip of a housing crisis, the future of housing is one of the key issues in the lead up to this year’s general election.

    This provides the spur for the RA’s season of debates, talks and an exhibition that aims to unpick old assumptions and challenge established positions about housing, while at the same time offering a vital platform for fresh ideas that will provoke and inspire in equal measure.

    The five debates that punctuate the season see a range of speakers take on the big issues that mark the housing crisis. Topics include the question of where we build, with Garden Cities back in vogue and the Green Belt increasingly in developers’ sights, the possibilities of design, and the new realities of ownership – a topic that has been in the news recently with the campaign by the Focus E15 Mothers and the controversy over the plans to sell and redevelop the New Era estate in Hackney. Meanwhile, lectures by Winy Maas of Dutch practice MVRDV, and Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao, offer us a chance to explore their innovative housing work while adding an important international perspective to the sometimes introspective UK housing debate.

    The exhibition, Four Visions for the Future of Housing, taking place in the RA’s Architecture Space (7 February – 17 May 2015), provides the continuous backdrop to the season. We asked Mæ Architects, Dallas Pierce Quintero, 5th Studio and Sarah Wigglesworth Architects to each put forward ideas that point towards a future for housing in the UK that could be within our grasp. The results are both provocative and profound.

    There are few more urgent debates than that around housing in the UK today. We hope that this season plays its part in moving that debate forward and ultimately help us find solutions to this most pressing of problems.

    What do you think are the most pressing challenges of the housing crisis? And what might be the solutions? Tell us in the comments below and join the debate on Twitter: #FutureHousing @Architecture_RA.

    Owen Hopkins is the RA’s Architecture Programme Manager.