This programme offers a dramatic opportunity to deliver new environmental improvements if we are bold enough to seize it.
New architectural styles can lift homes above the flood levels and relieve the land of pressure from new building. The “Vertical Village” concept can direct our attention to protecting the countryside and greenbelts with luxury vertical housing styles that learn from the lessons of many past mistakes through the latter half of the twentieth century’s mass housing programmes.
New advances in construction techniques can deliver superior quality to meet a wide range of environmental demands beyond the floods. Some of the features for new building and restorations can include:-
- Solar heating and electric generation incorporated in all homes. They increase self-sufficiency, reduce cost of electricity, and reduce dependency in the event of power cuts.
- Improved lighting conditions. A trend in recent low-cost housing has been towards smaller windows in homes, reducing available light and damaging psychological health. This can be reversed in favour of larger windows.
- Transparent solar panels. A new technology is now appearing for solar panels that coat windows. Light is still available but in the invisible spectrums this light powers solar panel technology embedded in the windows. The bigger the window the more power is generated alongside the greater health of the home.
- Air circulation improvements. House restoration and new building must solve the issues created in both the poor circulation of air and the increasing social isolation caused by modern housing styles. Sealed glass units prevent people from opening their windows for healthy social interaction and good air circulation, allowing other toxic materials to build up in the home. New designs, and the reversion to older styles, can solve some of these issues.
- Deep insulation. The recent severe winters highlighted the need to solve this problem. Homes need far more efficient design of deeper walls and windows to improve insulation. This will conserve heat and power in severe winters.
The underlying philosophy of Free-Homes is to create healthy, efficient, stylish structures for human dignity and long term sustainability. This means buildings designed to stand and remain useful for centuries not decades. This is not disposable fashion.