Nine single person units built by young homeless people for themselves

“The project was for 9 single person homes on a small plot adjacent to a disused canal in Peckham – to be self built by local young people in housing need. The build was linked to a local training centre where the self builders were trained up to NVQ level 2 Carpentry and Joinery.

Consortium, a local umbrella group of housing charities, employed a worker to research the project and get it off the ground. This worker stayed on for the build process and acted as a support worker to the self builders. The site was managed by a full time site/project manager who had built on a previous self build scheme and who had youth work experience.

On completion of the scheme the builders became tenants of South London Family Housing Association, who had acted as development agents for the project

A very thorough and honest review report on the project is available from CSBA”

Source: Consortium


BSHF | Learning from informality

The cities of the future, which is what many urbanism conferences talk about, those cities that grow fastest, are not constructed out of glass and steel, but out of straw, recycled plastic, scrap wood, and bricks made of construction waste. Housing there isn’t built by the building companies, developers and policy makers who attend the conferences, but by people building for themselves.

Source: BSHF | Learning from informality


Solar Water Pumping Design

Wanaka Sustainable Barn
Off-grid barn with office, kitchen for agricultural prep, and solar water pumping

  • Off Grid
  • Office
  • 300 tree olive grove – needs 6 m3/day in summer • Kitchen for processing
  • Space heating required


  • Portal Frame barn – inexpensive, quick to erect
  • Insulated and heated with 8kw wood burner, 4kw wetback
  • PV system – 2.4 kWp, delivers 4 kWh/day in June, 16 kWh/day in January
  • Excess capacity in summer used to pump water, and heat potable water
  • House Electricity use – estimated 3 kWh/day in June, 2.5 kWh/day in January
  • Solar Water Pumping System – estimated 0.5 kWh/day in June, 4 kWh/day in January
  • PV and Pumping system very affordable
  • In depth simulations are in progress
  • House and solar system will be built in early 2013, and monitored and reported on


  • Commercial building design strategies like portal frames are cost competitive
  • Photovoltatic systems can be very cost effective when summertime energy can be used for a productive purpose. This system could pump up to 18 m3/day during the summer [from 80m bore]
  • No need to use solar thermal [solar hot water] systems that are likely to freeze

barn2 kwh L water SolarDiagram


Off grid two bedroom design

Dunedin 2-bedroom off-grid house.
Micro-hydro based renewable energy system with LiFePo battery backup.  Constant power from micro-hydro system means only a small battery is needed.
unnamed (1) unnamed (2) unnamed


Temporary projects leave long-lasting legacy

The temporary projects which popped up on newly vacant land around Christchurch after the earthquakes have a lot more value to a traumatised public than we may think.Dr Andreas Wesener, a lecturer in Urban Design at the School of Landscape Architecture has just published research on transitional community-initiated open spaces (CIOS) in Christchurch and says they have a range of benefits that might strengthen community resilience.His paper discusses benefits, possible long-term values and future challenges for community-initiated temporary urbanism in Christchurch.“Resilient people have been described as being able to find positive meaning and display positive emotions even in times of crisis, and introducing positive stimuli and engaging in positive activities have been considered vital in distressing post-disaster situations,” Dr Wesener says.There is evidence that people’s participation in temporary projects has encouraged positive emotions and creativity, strengthened social capital, such as community gardens, and fostered community empowerment within a challenging post-disaster situation, he says.“On an individual level, community members who lost jobs in the aftermath of the earthquakes reported that working on temporary projects had provided opportunities to cope with post-traumatic stress, remain active, learn new skills, establish new networks and in some cases job opportunities have been created.“Even passive passers-by without direct involvement in community-led activities may experience positive emotions solely by noticing that ordinary people are recreating and rebuilding structures within a destroyed urban landscape.”
Source: Temporary projects leave long-lasting legacy