Architects Propose Turning Buckingham Palace into Affordable Housing

News | World | Sustainable Development

Photo-illustration: Pixabay

It’s time to end restrictive single family zoning and intensify an underdeveloped, underutilized urban resource.

Times are tough in the UK, not knowing whether it is in or out of Europe and the economy under stress. It is particularly hard for senior citizens; on MNN I have written about programs where elderly, lonely homeowners can share their homes with others, who then can keep a bit of a watchful eye on them.

Now think about Elizabeth, worrying about 775 rooms and 79 bathrooms. The kids are grown and gone, so she and her husband are rattling around in this barn. But now Opposite Office, an architecture firm out of Munich, Germany, has a great idea: convert her pile into rental housing for the poor, and add a big addition on top.

Cities need density to support an active community, and Buckingham Palace and the grounds around them have not been upzoned in centuries. From Seattle to San Francisco to Toronto, this kind of planning has come under fire. Here is an opportunity for Her Majesty to show that she is in touch with the times, to say YES in my backyard, instead of being locked into the most rigid single-family zoning this side of Versailles.

Interestingly, the plans proposed by the architects are very much like Versailles, with all the rooms en filade, one opening up into the others, with no space wasted for corridors. This is very efficient, if not very private.

“Affordable living space is created by a very efficient system of spatial sequences. Only eight staircases connect the apartments and allow plenty of space for living. There are no corridors and hardly any circulation areas, only simple non-hierarchic sequences of spaces that can be taken over by the future residents. There is a lot of community in this open and generous system, but there are also sleeping niches along the sides of the refurbished Palace, which accommodate the intimate private spaces of the inhabitants and can be closed by sliding and folding walls.”

As a historic preservationist, I am very impressed at how they have maintained the character of the palace and extended it upward. This could be a template for intensification of historic buildings around the world.

Author: Lloyd Alter

Source: Tree Hugger