YMCA London South West is developing a new housing solution called Y:Cube that provides self-contained and affordable accommodation for young people who cannot afford to buy a home or pay rising rent costs.
"As the largest provider of supported accommodation for young people in the country, YMCA is increasingly seeing young people struggling to afford the costs of private rent. Even for a young person in employment, a combination of low wages and high rents can quickly see them priced out of the market," said YMCA London South West director of housing and development Andy Redfearn.
The new prefabricated units, designed by architects Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners and specialist construction product provider SIG, provide a new type of accommodation that is significantly cheaper and faster to build than those built using traditional construction methods.
The proposal includes 26 square metre single occupancy studios that can fit on empty sites as self-contained units. Each unit can be constructed off-site with utilities such as water, heating and electricity already incorporated. Each unit can be easily connected to existing facilities or to other Y:Cubes already on site.
This ‘plug and play’ system results in a modular scheme of apartments that is flexible and can fit on sites within the city centre and in the suburbs.
“Additional units can be added if needed and whole developments can be taken apart and rebuilt in new locations. This modern method of construction makes for a neighbourly, clean and quiet site,” the architects said.
The modular system allows the units to be set alongside or atop on another in blocks of between 24 to 40 units. Each unit features one bedroom, an en-suite bathroom and a main living room area that includes a kitchen. The interiors are flexible, as partition walls can be re-arranged to create different layouts. More windows can be also added if required.
Each house has been designed to cost only US$49,900 and they are expected to last 60 years. They are constructed mainly from renewable timber and from other high quality, sustainable materials, making it possible to achieve a Code Six for Sustainable Homes. In addition, the units are insulated so as to require minimum heating and cooling, considerably reducing energy consumption and bills.
The project provides an alternative to poor quality shared accommodation and offers a new solution for housing shortages. The rent for each unit is set at 65 per cent below the market rate.
“Y:Cube Housing offers a real opportunity for social investment, providing a solid return to investors whilst at the same time meeting a huge need,” the architects said.
A 36-unit Y:Cube development is planned to be constructed in Mitcham - a district in the south west area of London - later this year.