Architects for Social Housing (ASH) was founded in March 2015 in order to respond architecturally to London’s housing ‘crisis’. We are a Community Interest Company that organises working collectives of architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, urban designers, film-makers, photographers, researchers and housing campaigners for individual projects. Tailored to meet specific needs, these collectives operate with developing ideas under set principles.
First among these is the conviction that increasing the housing capacity on existing council estates, rather than redeveloping them as properties for capital investment, is a more sustainable solution to London’s housing needs than the demolition of the city’s social housing during a crisis of housing affordability, enabling, as it does, the continued existence of the communities they house.
ASH offers support, advice and expertise to residents who feel their interests and voices are being marginalised by local authorities or housing associations during the so-called ‘regeneration’ process. Our primary responsibility is to existing residents — tenants and leaseholders alike; but we are also committed to finding socially beneficial, financially viable and environmentally sustainable alternatives to estate demolition that are in the interests of the wider London community.
ASH operates on three levels of activity: Architecture, Community and Research.
- We propose architectural alternatives to estate demolition schemes through designs and feasibility studies for infill housing and lightweight roof extensions that increase housing capacity on the estates by up to 50 per cent and, by selling a proportion of the new homes on the private market, generate the funds to refurbish the existing council homes, while leaving the communities they currently house intact.
- We support estate communities in their resistance to the demolition of their homes by working with residents over a period of time, providing them with information about estate regeneration and housing policy from a reservoir of knowledge and tactics pooled from similar campaigns across London.
- We share research that aims to correct inaccurate statements and counter negative perceptions about social housing in the minds of the public, and raise awareness of the role of relevant interest groups — including political parties, local authorities, housing associations, property developers, real estate firms, architectural practices and other consultants — in the ‘regeneration’ process. Using a variety of means, including publications, presentations, reports, case studies, exhibitions, films and protests, we aim to initiate policy change within UK housing.