HAWSE: Prefab Housing for the Homeless
UK architects/urban planners Levitt Bernstein’s proposal to transform unused council-owned garages in London into temporary homes for the homeless has won the Home competition. The initiative is a global call to action by Building Trust International – a London-based organisation that specialises in spatial regeneration within urban communities.
Dubbed HAWSE (Homes through Apprenticeships With Skills for Employment), the project proposes to break ground in London’s poorer neighbourhoods by allowing unemployed residents to participate in the construction process, providing them with practical new work skills and experience.
All HAWSE units will include a small bathroom and living space, while every fifth unit will provide communal kitchens, dining and laundry rooms.
The plan suggests that parts of the prefab homes would be built off-site (in part by HAWSE residents) and once completed will be swift to assemble, allowing them to be inhabited straight after construction. Costs are also a significant factor; the plans suggest each unit would cost in the region of a mere £13,000 ($20,943).
While no clear dates for completion have been established yet, discussions with local planning commissions are currently taking place, with hopes to begin construction in 2013.
Another economically mindful and philanthropically driven prefab micro-apartment design from Australian architects Mulloway Studio also ranked highly in the competition. Its Park(ed) project proposed movable, single occupancy housing for at-risk youth. Echoing HAWSE, the spaces would be constructed on a relatively low-cost AUS$30,000 budget and built on unused parking lots in Adelaide, Southern Australia.
For more detail on prefab housing and its role in the retail and housing marketplace, see the Stylus report, Prime Time for Prefabs. For more on how leading architects are starting to work with local communities at grassroots level to create more successful design solutions for housing and civic spaces, see our coverage of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2012.