UK Residential: The Chapman Taylor Prototype Housing project

UK Residential: The Chapman Taylor Prototype Housing project

With Housing at the forefront of the UK political agenda and the pressure of tackling how to build an extra 50,000 homes a year in London alone, Chapman Taylor has devised a new housing model, Umbrellhaus, as one answer to help solve the UK housing problem.

With Housing at the forefront of the UK political agenda and the pressure of tackling how to build an extra 50,000 homes a year in London alone, Chapman Taylor has devised a new housing model, Umbrellhaus, as one answer to help solve the UK housing problem.

Our proposal, Umbrellahaus (Outlined in the PDF download above), is a sustainable, affordable, offsite housing system that can be constructed at scale and speed to provide much needed housing for communities within London and other major UK cities.

This method of delivery produces high quality, lightweight construction responsive to its context, which can be seamlessly integrated into the existing city fabric.

Aimed at the young and employed who face little prospect of acquiring a home, Umbrellahaus proposes a new funding and delivery model which unlocks the Government’s land assets; encourages institutional investment; streamlines the planning system; encourages more players in the construction market and economically benefits the whole community.

Everyone needs a home

Umbrellahaus is an affordable and sustainable offsite housing system, which can be constructed at scale and speed to provide housing for communities around the UK.

Aimed at those who are finding it hardest to get a step on the housing ladder, the Umbrellahaus concept also proposes a new funding and delivery model.

In order for the Umbrellahaus model to work, we need to see the government deliver on their proposal to streamline the planning system and ensure that suitable land held by the public sector is released to enable development to proceed.

The concept provides a holistic solution to fund, construct and deliver affordable, sustainable modular homes. It will be possible to build up to 22 storeys high.

Design and Product

Umbrellahaus housing modules range from 1 bed to 3 bed family units and provide a choice of homes to reflect peoples’ ability to pay and the different stages in their lives. All unit sizes generally follow the London Plan space standards that can be reduced in size where appropriate to match market demands. With Umbrellahaus it is possible to upgrade to a 1 bed from a micro or downsize to a 1 bed from a 3 bed when circumstances change, without leaving the community.

The modules are thermally efficient, maximise daylight, minimise maintenance costs and encourage recycling. They are constructed from highly insulated sustainably sourced materials and designed to match Passivhaus Standards.

Umbrella Modular Housing will have LABC type approval to fast track through building regulation approval procedures and be backed by the Building Offsite Property assurance scheme.

Modules are scaled for easy transport to site, with off-site construction providing factory conditions encouraging clean, energy-efficient and accurate assembly.

Umbrellahaus is seamlessly integrated within the city, taking inspiration from London’s well-connected underground transportation system or Manchester’s Metrolink.

Scheme designs will be site and context specific. Umbrellahaus is extremely flexible and can be expressed externally in a range of idioms. The cladding treatment will relate to the surrounding context, whether this requires a contemporary or a conservative response to the scale and rhythm of the existing buildings.

Gyms, micro-cinemas, cafes and laundrettes, will be included amongst other facilities to encourage community cohesion. The public realm will be enhanced through private amenity courtyards, recessed balconies, gardens and terraces to create the perfect living environment for today's city dweller.

Land and Planning

Currently central government owns more than 16,000,000 m² of property and land across the UK and much of this land is underdeveloped.

The risks of uncertainty and delay in the planning process is problematic for all developers. In order to provide a greater assurance that plans will be approved. A collaborative approach will be taken by the Chapman Taylor design team working with local authorities and communities to develop a design code for the Umbrellahaus. Massing, density, layout, appearance and materials will be established at the earliest stages of the process along with critical planning conditions. Details would be approved by condition or submission of reserved matters.

An independent design review panel will be engaged on large or complex sites.

Construction and Procurement

The Umbrellahaus model will not displace existing development activity but will assist with helping to meet the shortfall across the UK in the next 20 years.

The private house building industry currently accounts for 79% of all homes built. In the past there has been too much reliance on the volume builders to solve the shortage even though their business models limit their ability to respond. Currently we are building around 120,000 homes a year, with the government and other independent housing experts advising that we need to be building at a rate of 240,000 homes per year for the next ten years simply to meet demand.

The economies of scale the Umbrellahaus model affords will appeal to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and attract new players to the market exploiting capacity in the wider market.


Umbrellahaus provides a constructive solution to those disillusioned about ever having a home to call their own.

Chapman Taylor is currently collaborating with other consultants to develop the structure system, the façade design and the environmental attributes for the protoype.

We anticipate that the Umbrellahaus model will become one of the leading off-site solutions to the housing crisis.

About the Author

Michael Swiszczowski (BA(Hons), MArch, ADPPA, ARB, RIBA)

董事, 曼彻斯特

Michael joined Chapman Taylor in 2016 to strengthen the practice’s residential expertise. A key member of the Manchester studio’s management team, Michael has a business development remit for the residential sector across the UK business.

He has experience working on award-winning residential projects with a particular focus on build-to-rent, student accommodation and modular construction.

He is a RIBA-elected member of the Regional Council for RIBA North West.

Areas of expertise:

Residential / Build-to-Rent / Student Accommodation / Hotels


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