Once upon a time three little pigs built three detached homes from scratch – and the cleverest pig built their house out of bricks, rather than sticks or straw.
Times have changed – the ‘wolf’ is now global warming and biomaterials are being seen in a new light. Today, the two urgent imperatives of climate change and housing shortage are converging to demand an ambitious rethink of what an ideal home might be.
The dilemma is that while organisations such as Architects Climate Action Network (ACAN) are pointing out that 80% of the buildings that will exist in 2050 have already been built, the sheer scale of housing shortage is becoming ever more apparent. In February 2023, the Centre for Cities calculated that in Britain alone there’s a backlog of 4.3 million homes – that’s equivalent to 14 medium-sized cities.
Adaptive reuse will inevitably be part of the solution – and to achieve net zero while bridging the gap between housing demand and supply, all eyes are on a groundswell of creative reinvention of existing infrastructure. But keeping the ‘ideal’ in homes created by recycling structures built for different purposes is a challenge that only good design can solve.
The Davidson Prize 2024 is asking multi-disciplinary creative teams to explore inventive and compelling design ideas to persuade renters and buyers that an ideal home might not be detached like those of the three little pigs – or surrounded by a white picket fence – but will be an exciting new product of upcycling, recycling, mining and creative reuse that reimagines traditional ideas of home and ways of living.
Because housing shortage is most keenly felt by generation rent – the eco-conscious Gen Z and Millennials priced out of the housing market – we’re asking you to engage particularly with the housing ideals of people in their early 20s to early 40s.
The good news is that the race for sustainable innovation means the exciting potential of sustainable building materials like hempcrete, mycelium and bamboo is already a reality. Meanwhile groundbreaking concepts for environmental retrofit, biomaterials and urban mining have already been investigated in bold projects like Lacaton & Vassal’s seminal Tour Bois-le-Prêtre housing of 2011, as well as the recent Le Magasin Électriquefrom Assemble and BC Architects’ and Resource Rows from Lendager.
You’re asked to choose any existing non-residential structure/s in the UK or Ireland – from a disused farm building to a high street, an office block to an oil rig – and to explore how it could be upcycled, retrofitted and/or mined to provide exemplary sustainable housing for a minimum of five homes. Submissions should demonstrate key organisational, structural and environmental principles while also zooming in on the experiential qualities of a typical home.
What will the adapted and recycled ideal home of tomorrow look and feel like? How will emerging sustainable materials affect the design and tectonics of our living environments and neighbourhoods?
Teams are asked to present their ideas in the form of a ‘marketing billboard’ selling the concept direct to target renters or buyers.
Key considerations include design that:
- Creates new homes while reducing carbon impact
- Reimagines living environments for a sustainable future
- Integrates recycling, upcycling and/or biomaterials
- Makes a compelling case for a new kind of ideal home
- Clearly communicate how the proposed design employs upcycling, retrofit and/or sustainable materials
- Demonstrate the benefits of multi-disciplinary collaboration (single company entries will not be considered)
- Show awareness of viability, and how the project might engage with communities, social enterprises, local authorities, housebuilders and/or developers
- Effectively communicate design ideas to lay audiences.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS:
- Upcycling / adaptive reuse / creative reuse The process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products perceived to be of greater quality, artistic or environmental value
- Downcycling Converting materials and products into new materials, sometimes of lesser quality
- Retrofit The addition of new technology or features to older systems – for example to increase building efficiency in use
- Mining / harvesting Recovering and reusing waste building materials such as concrete, bricks, steel reinforcements, roofing, copper pipes or aluminium
- Circular economy Model of production and consumption that involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible.
See ‘Submission Requirements’ and ‘Judging’ below for further information.
Download the full brief as a pdf.