International ideas competition launched to solve London’s housing crisis


New London Architecture (NLA), in partnership with the Mayor of London, have today launched an international competition to tackle the ongoing demands of London’s housing shortage.

New Ideas for Housing London will provide opportunities for anyone, whether a large organisation or just one person with a big idea, to submit a proposal free of charge that could help shape the future of the capital.

Winning entrants will work with the Greater London Authority to see how their ideas could be put into practice to revolutionise the London housing market.

It is widely accepted that London has faced a ‘housing crisis’ for over 20 years and this will only worsen unless we can implement a range of innovative ideas to help improve the speed, scale and quality of housing supply.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the shortfall facing the capital but there is an urgent need to create a forum to discuss and debate the ideas that could respond to particular places, methods of construction and changes to the current planning and financing system.

This competition is not just about design – entries are open to all sectors of the built environment and should tackle how we plan the city, the best use of land available, and consider where people will want to live and why.

Submissions can address planning, funding, construction, procurement, design and/or even products. The aim of this competition is to find real, deliverable solutions to London’s housing crisis rather than theoretical concepts, and responses to this challenge will have to consider the demand or issue they are addressing and how this will be feasibly delivered.

Entries are encouraged from overseas to bring a global perspective to this initiative but must demonstrate an understanding of London’s specific needs.

Therefore, partnerships between international studios and local practices are also encouraged. No idea is too big or too small, as long as it can be applied to the capital. Worldwide trends, technologies and ideas should be utilised and submissions can draw on existing methods and approaches used elsewhere to address the current shortages in London.

The competition forms the backbone of NLA’s forthcoming Autumn Insight Study, exploring new ideas to deliver quality housing at speed and at scale in London. Alongside a major new piece of research exploring London’s housing market, the shortlisted entries will be the basis of an NLA exhibition and accompanying events programme, hosted at NLA’s galleries in The Building Centre from 15 October – 17 December 2015.

Peter Murray, Chairman of New London Architecture said:
“There is a lot of debate about housing numbers, about standards and planning issues, but there seems to be a dearth of new thinking. We hope this Insight Study will unearth ideas that housing providers, architects and others are thinking about and would like to promote and spread – including innovative ideas from overseas that we can learn from.”

Deputy Mayor for Housing and Land Richard Blakeway said:
“A challenge as big as increasing the supply of housing in London requires creative solutions. The Greater London Authority is pleased to support the New Ideas for Housing London competition and we are very interested in seeing what proposals are put forward by the world’s best and brightest architectural minds.”


Many architectural practices, urbanists and developer are already trying to tackle the housing shortfall in a range of ingenious, site-specific solutions. Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners are rolling out a series of self-contained volumetric pods, the Y-Cube, that can be delivered to temporary sites off the back of a truck, providing accommodation while land is awaiting development.


HTA Design have produced a rigorous study, Supurbia, that outlines key suburbs that are ripe for densification and investigates where development should take place and how these areas deal with ‘brand problems’. Supports by John Habraken is a book that presents an alternative to more traditional forms of mass housing but did so with no specific designs, to encourage practitioners to change the way they think when producing their own concepts.