In preparation for a ministerial review of housing standards by the UK government, the RIBA has launched their "Without Space + Light" campaign aimed at advocating minimum requirements for total space and natural lighting in order to improve quality in new built homes.
The campaign, supported by a survey titled "Housing Standards and Satisfaction: What the Public Wants", aims to combat the recent trend towards 'shoe-box homes', highlighting the dissatisfaction among owners of new homes when it comes to living standards and the fact that new homes are an average of 10% smaller than they used to be.
Not only are the space standards in UK homes poor compared to past housing, they also lag behind standards set by other European countries: in Ireland, new homes are on average 15% larger, in the Netherlands they are 53% larger, and most strikingly in Denmark they are a full 80% larger.
Read more about the campaign after the break...
The focused campaign has three missions:
- To make the government set new space standards for all new homes
- To make the government set new minimum requirements for natural light in all new homes
- To make the government introduce product labelling for all homes so that everyone can make more informed decisions when choosing a home
The survey outlines what it sees as the dangerous and long term effect that the trend towards smaller houses might have:
"The housing quality standards set by government and the decisions builders and architects make today will echo through tomorrow’s society. And yet the chief ambition of the Government’s current housing standards review is to reduce the “unnecessary cost and complexity to the house-building process” despite public complaint about the quality of new homes."
The statistics generated by the survey certainly make for a convincing argument. Asked if they were considering moving home in the next year, respondents who lived in a house less than 10 years old were almost twice as likely to admit that they were. Of the people who were dissatisfied with their home, 32% blamed a lack of space and 20% cited a lack of natural light.
The campaign website also states that of people who live in a house between 2-10 years old, 75% consider a lack of space to be a key problem, and 69% of people moving into a newly-built home found that there wasn't enough room for their possessions.
In addition to the satisfaction brought by space and light, the campaign highlights the damage to health caused by a lack of natural light: a diminished immune system, diabetes, premature ageing and a disruption of sleeping patterns are all presented as a risk of poor lighting; while a decreased risk of obesity, insomnia and depression are attributed to high levels of natural light.