Designer blasts British homes

British homes are stuck in the Roman age and most so-called affordable accommodation is poorly constructed, Kevin McCloud, the face of Channel 4’s Grand Designs has declared.

His announcement over the weekend came in response to news that the former theatre designer must shelve his latest project of creating a 16-home village of unique design along the South coast.

The project, which was to be filmed by Channel 4, hit a snag when property developer Midas Homes realised McCloud did not plan on creating standard mass-produced homes, the Architects’ Journal reported.

Instead of adding to the national display of what McCloud sees as ‘Noddy homes,’ the televised project would have fused affordability with a “high benchmark of architectural quality.”

Inspired by the idea of building quickly and economically, the 16 houses would have graced an area of Cornwall to effectively erect a new village, based on the input of cutting-edge designers and architects.

These design professionals were expected to submit their innovative ideas after an invite by Channel 4, but without the property developer the project seems doomed.

However McCloud, who runs a freelance product design consultancy, remains determined.

“The last thing I want to see is more bloody Noddy homes,” he said, speaking in an interview with The Observer.

“I want to prove to developers that it is possible to make affordable, sustainable housing to exemplary architectural standards. Unfortunately, the construction industry in this country is wedded to deeply conservative methods.”

Britain is playing catch-up with rivals abroad, McCloud hinted, where residential architects are willing to incorporate more risks and radicalism in their projects.

“In other countries you see modern housing which is enriching and beautifully well built as well as affordable,” McCloud said.

“In Britain, we’re still building houses based on Roman techniques. Affordable housing is generally poorly built.”

Meanwhile a Grand Designs insider, who reportedly would have sat on the show’s panel of judges, said the potential radicalism of the designs was simply too much for Britain’ s “traditional” house-builders.

McCloud says his chances of finding a new developer are “probably zero,” but he insisted the project would not be abandoned.

“I’m determined to see it built, and if I have to take more risks myself then I will” he said.

Speaking from his website, McCloud says his personal crusade is to ensure architecture and design actually “responds” to the people who use them.

“'The most important piece of architecture any of us ever experience is the home we live in,” he said.

“If Grand Designs can do anything, it can at least raise the level of our awareness and especially our expectations of the quality of the buildings we live in.”


27th February 2006

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