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Simpler and Better - Housing Design in Everyone's Interest

Simpler and Better - Housing Design in Everyone's Interest

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Published by Tony Carroll
Published by CABE

INTRODUCTION
In No more toxic assets1 in 2009 I asked if we could
use the breathing space offered by the recession to
find new ways to improve housing design quality. Then
in Who should build our homes? 2 six leading thinkers
proposed new models for housing delivery.
They then joined workshops with other experts to reflect
on the proposals. CABE is extremely grateful to all the
participants - housebuilders, policy makers, architects,
planners, academics, valuers and economists. They
suggested practical actions and sensible policy
changes which could transform housing design quality.
The challenge is tough, but not intractable.
In Simpler and better, I have distilled CABE’s
conclusions about the most important ideas which
have emerged. ‘Simpler’ refers to a new, streamlined
standards framework that we’re proposing, alongside
the introduction of a minimum design standard for all
new homes in Britain (‘better’). The industry should get
a clear, consistent set of standards, and the consumer
and the community get a guarantee of homes that are
good enough everywhere.
The maxims of the day are doing more with less and
doing things differently, not simply doing less. Not to
dumb down approaches to design quality, but to
ensure that those things that really matter are realised.
Richard Simmons
Published by CABE

INTRODUCTION
In No more toxic assets1 in 2009 I asked if we could
use the breathing space offered by the recession to
find new ways to improve housing design quality. Then
in Who should build our homes? 2 six leading thinkers
proposed new models for housing delivery.
They then joined workshops with other experts to reflect
on the proposals. CABE is extremely grateful to all the
participants - housebuilders, policy makers, architects,
planners, academics, valuers and economists. They
suggested practical actions and sensible policy
changes which could transform housing design quality.
The challenge is tough, but not intractable.
In Simpler and better, I have distilled CABE’s
conclusions about the most important ideas which
have emerged. ‘Simpler’ refers to a new, streamlined
standards framework that we’re proposing, alongside
the introduction of a minimum design standard for all
new homes in Britain (‘better’). The industry should get
a clear, consistent set of standards, and the consumer
and the community get a guarantee of homes that are
good enough everywhere.
The maxims of the day are doing more with less and
doing things differently, not simply doing less. Not to
dumb down approaches to design quality, but to
ensure that those things that really matter are realised.
Richard Simmons

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Published by: Tony Carroll on Jun 14, 2010
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07/31/2013

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Simpler and better
Housing design in everyone’s interest
 
Contents
1
Introduction
Richard Simmons
1 What is the problem? 
Homes as a retail product The question of subjectivityThe overriding importanceof “other considerations”Can we affordbetter design quality?The real market is in money,not housingPolicy and market failures
2 What can be done? 
The case for a minimumdesign standardEmpowering local authoritiesand local communities A “golden equity share”for the local community
3 Conclusions4 Background:
our reading of thehousing market23469101214182226283438
Published in 2010 by the Commissionfor Architecture and the Built Environment.Graphic design: FivebargatePrinted by Centreprint UK Ltdon Revive recycled paper. All rights reserved. No part of thispublication may be reproduced, storedin a retrieval system, copied or transmittedwithout the prior written consent of thepublisher except that the material may bephotocopied for non-commercial purposeswithout permission from the publisher.CABE is the government’s advisor onarchitecture, urban design and publicspace. As a public body, we encouragepolicymakers to create places that workfor people. We help local planners applynational design policy and offer expertadvice to developers and architects.We show public sector clients how tocommission buildings that meet the needsof their users. And we seek to inspire thepublic to demand more from their buildingsand spaces. Advising, influencing andinspiring, we work to create well-designed,welcoming places.CABE1 Kemble Street London WC2B 4ANT 020 7070 6700 F 020 7070 6777E enquiries@cabe.org.uk www.cabe.org.uk
This publication is availablein alternative formats on requestfrom the publisher.
CABE is supported by
 
Introduction
In
No more toxic assets
1
in 2009 I asked i we coulduse the breathing space oered by the recession tond new ways to improve housing design quality. Thenin
Who should build our homes? 
2
six leading thinkersproposed new models or housing delivery.They then joined workshops with other experts to refecton the proposals. CABE is extremely grateul to all theparticipants - housebuilders, policy makers, architects,planners, academics, valuers and economists. Theysuggested practical actions and sensible policychanges which could transorm housing design quality.The challenge is tough, but not intractable.In
Simpler and better 
, I have distilled CABE’sconclusions about the most important ideas whichhave emerged. ‘Simpler’ reers to a new, streamlinedstandards ramework that we’re proposing, alongsidethe introduction o a minimum design standard or allnew homes in Britain (‘better’). The industry should geta clear, consistent set o standards, and the consumerand the community get a guarantee o homes that aregood enough everywhere.The maxims o the day are doing more with less anddoing things dierently, not simply doing less. Not todumb down approaches to design quality, but toensure that those things that really matter are realised.Richard SimmonsIn November 2008 President Obama’s chie-o-starevisited economist Paul Romer’s advice on crises.Willing outmoded US industries to restructure inresponse to the recession, Rahm Emanuel said“You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste - it’s anopportunity to do important things that you wouldotherwise avoid”.The same maxim inspired
No more toxic assets
.The housebuilding industry was in shock rom thecredit crunch. Was this the opportunity to shapea brighter uture or housing delivery and designquality? Could we change the unchangeable?To do so, did we have to think the unthinkable?Getting better design or new homes and theneighbourhoods in which they sit has been oneo the more intractable challenges aced bygovernment in recent years. During the workshopswhich helped generate this report, it was agreedthat the design challenge is dicult or severalreasons. Partly it’s a result o the culture andeconomics o housing provision in the UK. Partlyit’s because o the particular ways in which townplanning and the structure and nancing o theindustry work.CABE’s statutory purpose is to improve thedesign quality o buildings and places. We knowthat design quality matters. We have the evidencethat there is a need or improvement. We believethat there could be xes. But we need to startby addressing six main points o contention thatunderpin the debate about housing design.
Introduction1 What is the problem?
23

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