Welsh Affordable Housing Concept Set to Be 'Overnight' Success


A prototype of the Ty Unnos house. Photo via BBC News

The idea, whether strictly legal or not, that land can be claimed by building a dwelling on it under cover of night is apparently shared by Turkey and Wales. Known as gecekondu, or "settled overnight" in Turkish, such houses are called tŷ unnos ("house in one night") in Welsh, and the concept has inspired an affordable, and ecological housing project in the UK country.Simple wood-frame houses are being developed under the Ty Unnos name by the woodland charity Coed Cymru, a group that is working to promote better management of the country's 123,000 hectares of broadleaf woodlands, which were largely dying out 20 years ago. The organization pairs its conservation and conservation efforts with those to revive local craftsmanship and promote use of sustainably harvested local timber in furniture, flooring, windows, and other products.

The prototype in the Ty Unnos project is for a low-cost, energy-efficient house framed with beams of relatively fast-growing Welsh spruce, but the simple, standardized kit is easily modifiable to use different locally sourced wood products in other locations and designed in a modular style (pdf) that lends itself both to the efforts of do-it-yourselfers and to ease of future expansion or modification. Says David Jenkins, director of Coed Cymru:

This type of modular building follows the Welsh longhouse tradition, whereby extra sections can be added easily. The project began by looking at affordable housing but what we have realised is that we have a very versatile way of building.... Ty Unnos buildings are going to be much easier to build than conventional buildings and don't require formal foundations, which keeps the cost down. They are very versatile and flexible, which makes them suitable for combined living and workspace.... In terms of small public buildings, such as workshops, classrooms and visitor centres, I think the Ty Unnos system is going to revolutionise building in Wales. As for housing, that will be a matter of overcoming people's attachment to bricks and mortar, but the system has all the right credentials: it's sustainable, super efficient and entirely reusable.

Following its debut last year at the Greener Homes and Building Show in Wales, the house will be displayed this summer at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, an annual celebration of "living cultural heritage," in Washington, DC. Via: "A 'one-night' house for America," BBC News

More environmental news from Wales:
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750 MW Offshore Wind Farm Approved for Wales
Secret Green Community Saved from Demolition
Food and Farming After Peak Oil: BBC Wales Takes a Long Hard Look
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Tags: Construction | Forestry | Green Building | United Kingdom