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The future of affordable housing

With rents in London topping £2000 per month there has to be a solution for tenants to funding a roof over their head. While London has extremely high rent, the cost of housing is a problem across the country, and not just the cost, but actually funding enough house building is a problem in the UK.

Earlier this year the YMCA London South West unveiled their plan to utilise a new housing solution called Y:Cube, which has now come to fruition, and is ready to receive its first tenants.

YCube Affordable Housing

YCube Affordable Housing

Photo courtesy of Inhabitat

Y:Cube provides affordable housing that is crucially self-contained, rather than being shared accommodation, with all the potential of disputes that tends to entail. The development is aimed predominantly at young people who are unable to gain a first step on the housing ladder or unable to pay the high costs of private rent.

The units are designed by award-winning London architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. They arrive on site as self-contained units. Each cube is constructed in the factory to shorten build time, which in turn vastly reduces build costs. All the services are built in place during the manufacturing process, so water, heating and electricity can be easily connected to existing facilities. This is a construction process that is similar to the prestigious Huff Haus which employ the modular system to great effect.

The quality of the design has been recognized by some of architecture’s highest awards, including two RIBA Stirling Prizes.

Ivan Harbour, Senior Partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, said:

The Y:Cube delivers generous space, exceptional insulation, daylight and acoustics. We believe it holds many answers for well-designed and sustainable urban living and this approach of delivering fully kitted out units could change the way we think about our housing into the future. We look forward to working with the YMCA to help create homes for those most in need.

Housing crisis

Recognising that demand for housing is far outstripping supply the first UK development has been commissioned by YMCA London South West to help bridge the gap for people who have used their services to get off the street, but still need help to become completely independent. There has been incredible interest in the development, and the first tenants will move in this month.

Andy Redfearn, Director of Housing and Development at YMCA LSW, explains:

As the largest provider of supported accommodation for young people in the country, YMCA is increasingly seeing young people struggling to afford the costs of private rent. Even for a young person in employment, a combination of low wages and high rents can quickly see them priced out of the market.

The scheme has had great support from the local council, who are likely to be keenly interested in the efficiency and cost of the scheme. Richard Blakeway, Deputy Mayor of Housing, Land and Property for Mitcham said:

Y:Cube is a fantastic example of the innovative housing projects we support to address a range of housing demands. This quality modular design will help ease vulnerable young people into independent living, whilst they prepare for longer term accommodation. We need bold ideas to stimulate growth and address the historic failure to build enough homes and modular construction has an important role.

Modular building system

Y:Cube is designed as a ore-constructed ‘plug and play’ modular system, each one being a 26m2 studio-like apartment, intended for single occupancy. Although this means the living space is small, it offers an affordable and safe alternative to shared accommodation.

Y:Cube Floorplan

Y:Cube Floorplan

Photo Courtesy of

The units can stack on top of each other, and alongside each other, to create a development of the required size for the land available. It is also possible to use them to create living accommodation of any size with minor adjustment in the build.

Each Y:Cube unit is constructed from eco efficient materials (primarily renewable timber), creating accommodation that is exceptionally well-insulated. It is estimated that running costs for each unit will be as low at £10 per month for utilities.

The sort of household bills we would all like!

Y:Cube Housing Development in London

Y:Cube Housing Unit Development in London

Photo Courtesy of


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