The Future of Housing Standards (Event One)

The Future of Housing Standards (Event One)


The Future of Housing Standard:

2:00pm-4:00pm: Housing Standards and Design

4:30pm-6:00pm: Housing Affordability and Communities


The symposium discusses challenges in defining affordable, decent, or adequate housing and providing homes that are equitable and sustainable in the long term. The event brings together architects, housing practitioners, and researchers to discuss future housing standards and ambitions.

The Royal Institute of British Architects believes that only 6% of housing in the UK is designed by architects, of which three-quarters are for the private sector. Housing tends to be extensively standardised and traditional in construction and appearance, with many housebuilders averse to risk and innovation. According to a 2020 audit by the Place Alliance of recently completed large housing developments, three-quarters of the schemes had 'mediocre' or 'poor' designs, and one in five should not have been granted planning permission.

We are currently seeing a significant review of standards and regulations with the aim of improving housing safety, sustainability, and quality, including the Building Safety Act 2022, the Future Homes Standard, and the Decent Homes Standard. Their most important impact is on social, public, and affordable housing provision, which are essential for a just society and social welfare. However, demand continues to be unmet, with the Centre for Policy Studies estimating that in 2022/23 only 234,400 of the 499,344 new homes needed in England alone were provided, highlighting the need for a fundamental change in housing procurement.

With volume housing standardised in layout and construction, affordable housing often utilises standard house types designed to just meet building regulations and common standards, and expected to only require minor adaptation over time to regulatory changes. Consequently, minimum standards of provision or performance have not only become a widely accepted measure of basic housing quality but are often also the targeted maximum. However, recent events such as COVID-19 lockdowns, the cost-of-living crisis, and increases in interest rates and rent have shown that the way we use and experience our homes can quickly change, along with our long-term housing expectations.

While there are many political and economic reasons for the perpetual housing crisis in the UK and beyond, housing design governance plays an important role in the failure to provide enough decent and adequate homes. The symposium will explore how design governance as the interaction of policy, regulatory frameworks, standards, and institutions shapes housing outcomes.

This is a free event, but places are limited. Please note that you will need to book separate tickets for EVENT 1 in the afternoon (26 pm) and EVENT 2 in the evening (6:309 pm).


The Speakers Include: 

Housing Standards and Design (2:00–4:00 pm)

  • Lucia Alonso (Royal College of Art), Consuelo Albornoz (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), Dr Seyithan Özer (Royal College of Art)
  • David Stronge (Design Director, Peabody)
  • Amanda Rashid and Andrej Mećava (Principal Urban Designers, London Borough of Hounslow)
  • Prof Flora Samuel (University of Cambridge)

Discussion chair: Dr Dhruv Sookhoo (Manchester School of Architecture)

Housing Affordability and Communities (4:30–6:00 pm)

  • Dr Beth Stratford (economist; London Renters Union)
  • Tina John (Senior Architectural Design Manager, Pocket Living)
  • Levent Kerimol (Director, Community Led Housing London)

Discussion chair: Prof Peter Bishop (University College London)