In the city of London, 488,000 new homes are needed in order to stop the bleeding of a housing crisis that 75% of London businesses warn is a significant risk to the city’s economic growth. With less than half of the necessary homes currently being built, stakeholders are seeking innovative ideas to respond to a growing social and economic problem that has left many people struggling to live and work in the city.

Vertical Solutions

In examining a complex housing crisis wrapped in a myriad of political, environmental, infrastructural, financial and sustainability considerations, WSP researchers in the UK have determined that developing ‘air space’ above public buildings such as hospitals, schools and libraries could provide as much as 6,337 hectares of land, or enough space to build 633,700 new residential units in London. In a report titled Building Our Way Out of a Crisis, WSP researchers present the case that capitalizing on air space located directly above public facilities has the potential to address all of London’s housing needs and more, while stimulating parallel projects to upgrade the city’s public facilities.

In the report, supported by numerous stakeholders, WSP research unveils a path to success through private sector refurbishment of public facilities, with a return on investment derived from the rental or sale of apartments added above the facilities. The report puts forth a blueprint for maximizing the efficiency of existing land, while regenerating public facilities and addressing the crisis head-on by providing housing in ideal locations close to transportation networks and amenities.