Text description provided by the architects. Box House is one of 10 pioneering self-built houses, built at Graven Hill in Bicester: a development which will eventually comprise 1900 Custom and Self Build (CSB) homes. The Graven Hill development is of national significance, a ‘vanguard’ project helping to meet the government’s commitment to doubling the number of CSB Homes by 2020. Box House featured on the new Grand Designs spin-off (known as Grand Designs: The Street) in April 2019.
CSB housing is a spectrum, from true ‘Self-build’, where the client physically builds the house themselves, to ‘custom build’, where the client has design input to an externally procured construction. The young clients for this site were stuck in the middle. They did not have the budget to pay for an external contractor, nor the specialist skills to lead the build process themselves.
As a direct response to this brief, Studio Bark developed an innovative system of flat-pack timber building boxes, known as U-Build. The box modules were simple enough to be built by the client, but complex enough to perform the many requirements of a building envelope, and meet the stringent tests of the structural warranty provider. The flat-pack U-Build system is modular, flexible and can be ‘nested’ onto standard sheets of plywood, resulting in minimal wastage.
The two bedroom, 95 sqm house took around 100 cutting hours in total. The project was constructed solely using manual handling techniques by the client with the assistance of Studio Bark and a small team of architecture students.