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​Learning from Increments: Towards a Sustainable Design Strategy for Housing​

Dr Aliki-Myrto Perysinaki & Dr Joanne Hudson, Liverpool John Moores University

Awards RIBA President's Awards for Research 2017
Category Housing (Annual Theme)

The Grouping of Housing Typologies. Reinforced concrete frames could be grouped for units conceived as double puccas (permanent houses) or, more accordingly, columns, walls and associated infrastructure was shared, reducing costs. © Urban Nouveau (Filipe Balestra and Sara Göransson)

Incremental housing refers to flexible housing prototypes or ‘core’ housing, designed to grow over time. As a response to changing family structures and economies, incremental housing is a user led, adaptable mechanism that allows occupiers the freedom to enlarge the size and ameliorate the quality of housing in response to the demographic and economic changes of the households’ composition. The originality of this housing typology lies in the process rather than the final outcome. Incremental housing has been adopted in developing areas as a mechanism to deal with poverty and empowerment and to increase social capital. However, far from being a regional phenomenon, incremental construction transcends political boundaries and involves different cultures and societies, as well as economic and political systems. In view of the growing interest in incremental housing as a proactive strategy to meet housing demand, this paper begins with a short presentation followed by a critical synthesis of previous incremental housing examples, from the 1980s to the present day, drawn from a variety of urban contexts. Illustrating the process(es) that led to their effective implementation, this paper questions how incremental practices can be used as a method to provide urban housing, encourage typological innovation, rethink the relationship between building and land provision and support appropriate city growth. To conclude, in the current context of evolving policy frameworks regarding the provision of affordable housing, this paper will open up debate concerning the potential of incremental housing as a sustainable design strategy in western contexts, in dealing with the growing ‘housing crisis.

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