The future of the British countryside: villages powered by wind turbines and new homes on green fields


Building Futures, the think tank of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), has today published a series of provocative articles imagining how British villages could look in the next 25 years.

Could this be the future of the British village in 2035?

  • The Good Life V2.0 - Self-sufficient villages are the norm – with wind turbines emphatically supported by the local community to provide all the energy needed
  • Homes available for children to live when they grow up, with families no longer forced apart by extreme local house prices.
  • Blanket broadband and mobile connectivity means it is not necessary to start up in city or town.
  • New industries have revived village life. Agriculture or commuting to the city no longer the only options for villagers as more people are both working from home and in the village.

Will these new ideas proposed for our villages result in a utopian paradise or are they an intrusion into the British countryside?

The authors of five ‘Think Pieces’ were invited by the RIBA to consider:

  • Is sustainability crucial (non-car centric developments, locally sourced and environmentally friendly building materials) for future rural development, and the creation of prosperous villages that relieve urban densification?
  • With appropriate technology will it be possible to strike the right balance to build resilience in both the energy and food systems through the rural scape of the UK?
  • Should villages support new types of industry other than agriculture?
  • Could future villages respond to city densification without losing their heritage?

Read the Building Futures ‘Think Pieces on the countryside village in 2035’ here:


Notes to editors


  1. For further press information contact Melanie Mayfield 020 7307 3662
  2. The RIBA's Building Futures was established to create space for discussion about the needs of society from our built environment, and consequently, the built environment professions in 20 years and beyond.
  3. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members
  4. The contributors are:

Charles Holland

Charles Holland is an architect. He is a director of FAT, the London based architecture and design practice. He has been the director in charge of a number of FAT's key projects including the Islington Square housing project in Manchester and Thornton Heath Library in south London. He is currently leading the practice's collaboration with Grayson Perry for a new house in the Essex countryside.

Iain Watt

Iain Watt is a Principal Sustainability Advisor at the Forum for the Future - a leading sustainability non-profit specialising in futures work, innovation and capacity building. He leads on the forum’s work on climate change and energy, and has launched the Farm as Power Station Project in conjunction with Farmers Weekly and Nottingham Trent University, intended to bring about a step change in the uptake of farm-based renewable energy across the UK. Iain is particularly interested in exploring and promoting an integrated approach to energy – such that energy investments complement, rather than compete with, food production, waste management, pollution control, rural economic development and the like. Before joining the Forum for the Future he worked at Ceres leading on the first two editions of the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.

Daisy Froud

Daisy Froud is co-founder of architecture practice AOC (Agents of Change) where she leads the firm's participatory arm. Having trained as a linguist, she now works as an ‘interpreter’ of places, and of ideas and knowledge about places. With 14 years experience in stakeholder engagement and collaborative planning, she focuses on devising tools and strategies that allow multiple voices to meaningfully contribute to design decision-making processes. A qualified translator, Daisy has a First in Languages from Cambridge, an MA with Distinction in Cultural Memory, and teaches on the history and theory of urban change at The Bartlett. She recently completed a visiting professorship at Yale with AOC, running a seminar course on participatory architecture alongside a design studio. Among other activity, Daisy sits on Design Review Panels for the London Boroughs of Hackney and Lewisham is a member of the RIBA’s Building Futures Steering Group, and a Built Environment Expert for Design Council CABE

Matt Wood

Architect Matt Wood is a director at Lucas Hickman Smith, based in the market town of Wymondham in Norfolk, where he grew up. Prior to joining the practice Matt trained at the Bartlett School of Architecture and was a director at Conran & Partners in London, working mostly on complex urban regeneration projects in the UK and abroad, mainly in the residential, hotel and retail sectors. Since then his interests have shifted towards issues of rural development and sustainability, and regional distinctiveness. He has written on the subject extensively on his website Ruralise. He is a member of the Greater Norwich Design Review Panel, a Regional Ambassador for the National Self-Build Association and director of Norwich architecture festival (FANN13).