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Meeting building demands doesn’t have to be about compromise

There’s no doubt that the heat is being turned up on architects as Britain strives to meet a diverse range of needs.

In the region of a quarter of a million new homes a year are needed to keep up with demand – and while numbers are rising, it’s not enough.

At the same time, there is a broad consensus that if the UK is to meet binding climate targets and tackle the significant problem of fuel poverty, there needs to be major fabric improvements to homes. New build is a big part of this.

Accepted wisdom might suggest that if you need to build large quantities of affordable housing, or increase energy efficiency wholesale, you might have to reign in your more creative urges in favour of more standardised ‘one-size-fits-all’ approaches.

But there are notable voices of dissent against this view. Design Council Cabe has suggested that improvement and innovation should be part and parcel of building more homes, asserting that “well-designed environments go further than the minimum, they enhance a sense of well-being, enable healthy lifestyles and create delight.”

Ideal objectives for any project, no doubt—and good quality design need not mean greater costs. What’s key is targeting budgets towards where greatest value can be achieved.

Here at Superglass, we also subscribe to this philosophy. Why suppress great building design and valuable sustainability features, when with sensible planning and the right guidance, it doesn’t haven’t to be a matter of compromise?

Establishing exactly what’s needed for a vision to be realised is the first priority in delivering the right numbers at high quality. Superglass experts can work with you from the very start of a project to find the right products at the right quantity to deliver efficiencies required.

Non-standard product accounts for 40% of our business – so achieving exacting and complicated demands is not a problem. There’s flexibility in terms of cuts and specs whether you’re looking at floors, roofs or walls. It’s all about finding solutions, not accepting an unsatisfactory middle ground.

There are some recent and ongoing projects that should really help in maintaining the will to aim high when building the homes to meet the needs a growing population, and the UK’s low-carbon future.

The London Borough of Croydon is looking to architect-designed housing on council-owned sites, looking to bring affordability, community facilities and landscape improvements as well as units (around 1,000 homes). Abode is succeeding in creating a large volume of uniquely-designed sustainable homes to the south of growing Cambridge.

Smaller-scale projects such as Manchester’s The Guts illustrate that new homes with attractive frontage and innovative street design can be affordable, too.

At this time of competing pressures, architects need not despair. It is possible to get the numbers, get insulated, and deliver attractive buildings with distinctive features.