Housing, Homes and Technology

13th October 2015 Posted by: Abby Schlageter 3 mins

We set out to understand how technology affects the places and ways in which people live, its potential to influence the housing market and the ways housing stocks is created in the UK. We weren't interested in the tech that makes it easier for people to invest in that expensive London flat but technology that contributes to society as a whole, our collective need for shelter in the 21st Century and beyond.

We uncovered many different perspectives from smart metering in social housing to the digital nomad world of young people constantly on the move, always with laptop in hand, no fixed abode required. Home-ownership does not seem to be the answer for many in the younger generations, yet the small number of companies that build almost all houses in the UK are still throwing up an already out-of-date housing stock – prime for investment, not so great for living in, and certainly not something most people can afford to call home.

This is an interesting area for technology to support because bricks and mortar stick around, what's built now will affect how we live for years to come. Projects like Building Rights bring a new level of transparency and accessibility to the planning process. The online database of personal accounts of planning applications empowers people to better understand what can and can't be built, just as the original planning laws intended. This is only the start of what is possible in terms of democratising the planning process and making much better use of dynamic, open data sets.  

Another form of technology, the Wikihouse Foundation is developing open-source models and tools that make it simple for local citizens, groups and organisations to propose, finance and develop housing for themselves. These are just some of the projects and ideas featured in our film which gives an insight into the current state of technology and housing, and it's potential for the future. A lot of the challenges we see in housing definitely can't be solved with technology alone and a lot of housing sector tech that has been developed so far (apps, smart meters etc) is doing little to change anything systemically. It seems like digital transformation has yet to take hold of many organisations and institutions that are designing and providing housing, and that includes making more of the data they collect too.

Our film focuses on housing and homes and yet we know there is a much bigger picture to the housing crisis, which includes the growing number of homeless people (part to do with housing but also to do with other forms of social inequality and injustice). We created a series of podcasts that focused more on this, that you can listen to here, here and here.

Whenever we start planning a film we do a huge amount of research and came across many other interesting initiatives and projects in this space. We think this is a valuable resource that charts the potential of what is possible.  The links are below grouped according to some questions we were asking (or can be downloaded here). If you know of any others please let us know and we can add them to the list.

Watch the film here.

An Open Manifesto For Housing - a must read from Alastair Parvin of the Wikihouse Foundation


how are houses built? and by who?

themes:Safety/sustainability/fit for purpose, housing production




pre-fab: http://www.dwelle.co.uk/

new systems or models: http://www.b4box.co.uk/



micro-homes: https://www.pocketliving.com/


how can we better understand our rights to housing and land?

themes: Ownership, distribution, shortage of housing, data

e.g building rights, NESTA open data housing challenge, land ownership, land sharing, open data and land laws, data that’s about accountability










it’s not just about building houses, isn’t is about building communities?






what about people who live in social housing?

themes: Welfare, poverty, austerity services

e.g social housing agencies

More than a third of everyone who is offline in the UK is currently living in social housing. (https://www.ukonlinecentres.com/specialist-networks/social-housing-network)

Social housing providers help their residents to to embrace the web:






do we even need to have our own house?

themes: Assumptions, futures

e.g digital nomads, co-housing, house-renting, landlord-tenant relationships







what about homelessness?

homeless POV - http://www.miraclemessages.org/

data gathering by Centrepoint - http://centrepoint.org.uk/google

Trends and Friends publication - https://www.lemosandcrane.co.uk/lemos&crane/index.php?id=235023



how can I find shelter? or I can’t afford my own home, how can I find somewhere to live?

finding shelter, somewhere to live [not buying a home]







how will houses look in the future?

e.g responsive architecture, growing home, IOT NEST, connected home




what is being done to change current housing crisis?


housing policy and campaigning

CABE (housing think tank), using twitter to gain wider audience

https://twitter.com/dsyhdsn - campaigning on twitter, speaking out






what other resources are there?

Honduras Government using blockchain for land rights - http://www.coindesk.com/factom-land-registry-deal-honduran-government/


http://www.hact.org.uk/ Ideas and innovation in Housing



Building Rights brings a new level of transparency and accessibility to the planning process, it empowers people to better understand what can and can't be built, just as the original planning laws intended


Housing, Home and Tech Research & Resources (pdf)

Housing, Home and Tech Film (youtube)

Housing, Home and Tech Film (vimeo)

Extreme Living: Homelessness & Tech Podcast

Homelessness Data Podcast

Homeless and working Podcast

Building Rights


An Open Manifesto for Housing (Alastair Parvin)


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