Openstudio Architects' Infinite House is a set of contemporary housing prototypes designed to offer maximum flexibility, customisation and cost efficiency, and to maximise levels of natural light and the perception of space.
The Infinite House's external envelope allows it to adapt to suit different contexts without appearing to be a repeated house type, while still maintaining the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of prototyping and serial fabrication.
The 'Infinite House' raised the bar in reconsidering the archetype of the terraced house. This project considered not only the urban implications and technical possibilities for off-site production but also explored how such a house could enrich lives through the quality of climate, space and light.
The flexibility and robust design of the house and internal layouts means that The Infinite House prototypes can be used far into the future, as demographic and planning demands alter in ways we cannot anticipate at present. Internally, the houses can accommodate multiple configurations to suit different demographics. Spaces can be separated or offer the open plan living that more consumers are demanding; and all the houses have been designed to enable easy expansion into the roof space.
The Infinite House can alter appearance – chameleon-like – on different sites: stone, brick, render, stucco, timber, fibre cement, metal and ceramic panels can all be used. Careful selection of materials will enable the houses to fit in naturally anywhere from rural villages to dense urban areas, without impacting on the internal layouts and cost efficiencies of the design types. Special dormer shapes may be designed to be project specific, enabling owners to purchase them as an 'extra', and contributing to the variety of the streetscape. Customised colour palettes would offer another level of choice, with owners selecting colours for their waste and cycle store, garage and front doors.
The houses have been designed to reduce costs and control quality, maximising the efficiencies of repetitive construction through rational planning, which will also minimise errors in construction, therefore reducing remedial work and increasing client satisfaction. Prototyping will be a critical phase of design. Time spent testing and rationalising construction and detailing at the outset will save costs, far into the future.
The Infinite House can be constructed from traditional and off-site methods. CLT is likely to become more feasible over time as off-site construction becomes economically viable, but SIPS, timber-framed or brick and block construction are also possible. Roof pitches have been optimised for PV panels and eaves spaces can be used for plant and M&E technology requirements.
This has been an engaging process, and we have been delighted by the level of interest and the quality of the entries. The standard of the six finalists was very high which made our final decision a difficult one. After meeting the Architects much debate was had on the merits of each entry, but ultimately we were impressed by the way in which Openstudio interpreted the brief, and the simplicity, effectiveness and appeal of the winning designs.