Dezeen x MINI Living- SHORTLISTED
Future Urban Home Competition
The Kentish Classic by The DHaus Company LTD
Strap Line: Fully automated CNC Plywood Georgian terrace replicas are built on top of Flood Proof Concrete plinths for a venetian take on Kentish town 100 years from now, Feeding the desire for the London period property long into the future while conserving as best we can certain styles in areas such as Kentish Town in North London.
We racked our brains about this competition for over a month before we decided to actually take the time to enter, Long discussions of the future urban home are a very interesting topic, Our first port of call leaned towards the futuristic ‘’pod system’’, a modular/mathematical system, only to develop a pod of our own that just wasn’t that interesting and crucially: we thought someone else would come up with a better pod than us anyway.
So, our thoughts meandered in and out of some useful and some not so useful ideas, we couldn’t help but talk about the housing that is immediately around us in London today. If we select London as our test site, you could argue that in the future, London will be filled with someone else’s better Geometrical Pod system 100 years from now but trusting to some historical evidence, we want to argue our case of a different more vernacular future.
Instead of trying to think of a colour that doesn’t exist like a house 100 years from now, we started to look at what London was like 100 years in the past to gauge the level of change.
100 years ago, Londoners were enjoying all the Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian housing typologies which gives us a strong indication that in 100 years’ time from now, a lot of London’s population will still be retro fitting and adapting this historic building type.
We decided to develop this idea and start to research our favourite types in this genre. Growing up and still living/working in Kentish town now, for us it must be the small Georgian terraces and in particular the pastel coloured ones that can be found in small pockets in Kentish Town/Primrose Hill/Notting Hill which are some of the most desirable places to live in London today.
Wandering down some of these London streets, you might think you’ve hit the end of a rainbow. Turquoise sits next to lilac, next to a yellow, orange and so on. The colours are so abstract to everything else going on the street scene, each house bounces back its vibrant colour from the other and the specific building elements like Georgian Arched Windows or decorative detailing that seem to have a very strange relationship with the colourful façade backdrop. It’s this juxtaposition that we started to become fascinated with. The old against the new, for an extreme example, take Japan, when you think of that country, one could easily think of a futuristic place full of bullet trains and robots, but after recent trip there, these futuristic iconic revolutions are framed with in the ancient mountainous landscape, temples and ancient villages,
This contrast is the basis for our competition concept.
Everyone always says ‘’We don’t build em’ like we used to’’ referring to the exquisite Georgian facades of brick cornicing and floral plaster work: What is a Georgian house? Georgian architecture is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1714 and 1830. It is eponymous for the first four British monarchs of the House of Hanover—George I, George II, George III, and George IV—who reigned in continuous succession from August 1714 to June 1830.
The Georgian style is highly variable, but marked by symmetry and proportion based on the classical architecture of Greece and Rome, as revived in Renaissance architecture. Ornament is also normally in the classical tradition, but typically restrained, and sometimes almost completely absent on the exterior. The period brought the vocabulary of classical architecture to smaller and more modest buildings than had been the case before, replacing English vernacular architecture (or becoming the new vernacular style) for almost all new middle-class homes and public buildings by the end of the period.
Georgian architecture is characterized by its proportion and balance; simple mathematical ratios were used to determine the height of a window in relation to its width or the shape of a room as a double cube. Regularity, as with ashlar (uniformly cut) stonework, was strongly approved, imbuing symmetry and adherence to classical rules: the lack of symmetry, where Georgian additions were added to earlier structures remaining visible, was deeply felt as a flaw, at least before Nash began to introduce it in a variety of styles. Regularity of housefronts along a street was a desirable feature of Georgian town planning. Until the start of the Gothic Revival in the early 19th century, Georgian designs usually lay within the Classical orders of architecture and employed a decorative vocabulary derived from ancient Rome or Greece.
In towns, which expanded greatly during the period, landowners turned into property developers, and rows of identical terraced houses became the norm. Even the wealthy were persuaded to live in these in town, especially if provided with a square of garden in front of the house. There was an enormous amount of building in the period, all over the English-speaking world, and the standards of construction were generally high. Where they have not been demolished, large numbers of Georgian buildings have survived two centuries or more, and they still form large parts of the core of cities such as London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Newcastle upon Tyne and Bristol.
The period saw the growth of a distinct and trained architectural profession; before the mid-century “the high-sounding title, ‘architect’ was adopted by anyone who could get away with it”. This contrasted with earlier styles, which were primarily disseminated among craftsmen through the direct experience of the apprenticeship system. But most buildings were still designed by builders and landlords together, and the wide spread of Georgian architecture, and the Georgian styles of design more generally, came from dissemination through pattern books and inexpensive suites of engravings. Authors such as the prolific William Halfpenny (active 1723–1755) published editions in America as well as Britain.
A similar phenomenon can be seen in the commonality of housing designs in Canada and the United States (though of a wider variety of styles) from the 19th century down to the 1950s, using pattern books drawn up by professional architects that were distributed by lumber companies and hardware stores to contractors and homebuilders.
From the mid-18th century, Georgian styles were assimilated into an architectural vernacular that became part and parcel of the training of every architect, designer, builder, carpenter, mason and plasterer, from Edinburgh to Maryland.
So if we roll play and fast forward to London in the Year 2118, with raising global temperatures and extreme weather conditions, the dreaded 100 year floods comes more often, We depict and predict some kind of water world that will engulf London, Perhaps it’s going to be more like present day Venice than Kevin Costner’s webbed feet, But Londoners get used to the rising water levels just like they got on with the Blitz,
Our Future Urban Home is a small dwelling based on the small Georgian terrace in Kentish town, Currently the Kentish town house is 2 storeys high and very small with a typical plan of the original house being 20m squared per floor, (which is a very small 1bed in the current national technical housing standards guideline)
Our proposal named: The Kentish Classic is a homage to the kaleidoscopic miniature house, we would like to CNC cut plywood in to small replicas of the Georgian terrace facades then stain the plywood to recreate this rainbow effect in the street scene. We want to recreate the Georgian look but in a completely different way, not only would the houses be digitally prefabricated, but they would also be made out of timber, (which to be honest is likely as its more sustainable.)
These tiny replica facades are then placed on top of flood proof 3d printed concrete platforms that are sculpted to like pieces of art, to protect the ply wood structure from raising water levels but to also house a floating car platform for the latest Mini Cooper of the time, each concrete platform is adorned with Sculptural façade details like figures or faces from each of the 4 king Georges.
As one arrives form the water or street depending on water levers, one would walk up through the concrete plinth and arrive at the 1st floor which is a small kitchen/living room, with the second floor being the bedroom/bathroom/toilet, We would like the two floor s to feel more like an open studio space and to do this we created a flowing CNC staircase that curves in and out of the floors lining them together to create double height spaces which make the house feel much bigger than it actually is,
Finally, the staircase leads up to the 3rd floor which really is the roof garden/terrace, here the user can enjoy some outside space during the floor period,
We have carefully designed the front and rear façade at 1st and 2nd floor to really be identical to the houses found in Kentish town, we like that feeling of recognition that you would get 100 years from today, a historic reference to the great Georgian period in London’s building past.
The side elevations whether being a gable end or an adjoining façade to a neighbouring property would be slightly modern in it design, a screen based on classical proportions that would change order as its shifts up towards the sky. Again this screen would be made from very cheap resourceful materials such as 2×4 timbers and plywood sheets. Then varnished and insulated inside.
Finally, facades will have places for roman or Greek features to hold busts/figures or statues to drum home the historic past, We really hope that London will still resemble London in 100 years time.