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Adjustable housing: lessons for industry from self-organised and co-managed living

Graham, P. (2023) Adjustable housing: lessons for industry from self-organised and co-managed living. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00112060


When their needs change, UK homeowners tend to adjust their housing by making house moves or building alterations. In the UK’s low liquidity housing market however, people on the edges of homeownership lack both choice and the funds to trade-up, whilst in higher density areas, alterations are hard or impossible to make. In an age of longevity, precarity and episodic changes in housing needs, these factors mean some households experience inappropriate housing for longer. To meet this urgent but largely unacknowledged need for real choice over time, this practice-based thesis develops a transdisciplinary framework for improving adjustability during use. Taking a capabilities approach, I consider two housing models, each claiming to provide solutions for people whose needs are not met by the mainstream market. Drawing on stakeholder interviews, I ask, (1) What characteristics provide owners with longer-term adjustability? (2) What industry changes are needed to make adjustable housing attractive to developers? and, (3) How knowledge from the fields of architecture, economics and real estate might be combined to describe and implement ‘adjustable housing’? My findings suggest that adjustability is not only about space (normally the primary consideration of architects), but is also a function of tenure and shared housing environment. These may be thought of as three dimensions of adjustability : adjustable dwellings, through which the housing density can vary over time; adjustable tenure, that gives residents an equity stake that can go down as well as up; and adjustable infrastructure, so that people have shared amenities and circulation that they can meet in, and meet about. This idea of living together separately, is less radical than cohousing but also - as I show - less costly, risky and exclusive to deliver, I identify six ways that regulation, planning and design could become more scenarios-led, and conclude that the architectural and real estate industries need to work more closely if they are to change the structure of housing demand in the UK.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Samuel, F., Sayce, S. and Meen, G.
Thesis/Report Department:School of the Build Environment
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment
ID Code:112060


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