Post 2020 Architecture

Interesting guest post on the future of architecture, we can already see some of the features needed in garden room designs

Architecture needs to respond to the following challenges to create new houses for the post 2020 period.

  • Reduced availability of natural materials
  • Reduced energy
  • Reduced environmental quality.


The form of the new dwelling solves these problems and provides an ongoing adaptable resource point for the survival of its occupants as the mass, state controlled, energy intensive, support system changes to localized self-dependency methods of living.

It is intended to be located on an existing cleared housing plot. The original structure being more profitable to leave to deteriorate or to be demolished or to be stripped and recycled.

The dwelling has a compact volume to reduce its carbon and CO2 footprint, simplify construction and reduce costs to the occupier.

There are minimal openings in the wall areas. Where openings exist they are doubled up as ventilation points.

The layout is open plan. All of the current room subdivisions are removed to allow for an even thermal environment.

The only furniture consideration is for two couches. These allow for daily interaction and also double up as sleeping points.

The height is single storey with roof access.

This is determined by the natural sun angle and height for Britain. The single storey reduces overshadowing on the surrounding land to assist day lighting, temperature control and crop growth.

The flat roof acts as a garden, water collection area and also increases the green foot-print of the building by replacing the land lost to the dwelling.

The envelope is to be constructed from materials created by low energy input.

Concrete, brickwork, blockwork, steel, metals, petroleum based products are not used since they need a high energy input to be created.

Glass is used but it is to be from recycled sources.

The design envisages a wool insulated, timber foundation and construction, rain screen wall, with external and internal green food walls.

The green walls also change the temperature around the building by the plants automatically tracking the sun and altering the albedo of the envelope. The green walls increase the land area of the original site beyond that before the dwelling was established.

The current use of eaves detailing is removed in favour of a natural rainwater irrigation gutter that irrigates the green walls.

The glass roof area around the perimeter assists the growth of the internal green food walls as well as providing natural lighting to the interior.

The dwelling is passively heated, ventilated and lit.

The central rocket stove heats the dwelling. The flu to the stove is vented through the roof and acts as a radiator to the dwelling volume. The addition of a water jacket around the flu allows heat from the flu to be use for the production of hot water.

The current collection of storage areas and appliances is brought together in a localized utility area containing

– a domestic sized plastic recycling system and 3d printer to produce any product necessary for the dwelling or occupants

– a clothes cupboard

– a solar powered shower

– a portable chemical wc

– a manual had powered washing machine

– a minimal mobile kitchen

– thermal slow cooking flask

– thermal fridge flask

– thermal drinks flask

– 1 week potable water storage in a transparent jerry can fitted with a water filter.

– grey water storage in a transparent jerry can

– 1 weeks supply of food in container storage

The dwelling has no mains electrical system.

Instead it has a battery rack recharged off photovoltaic cells located on the roof area directly above the utility area to minimize service connections, power loss and materials such as insulation, from petroleum distillation and copper which is reaching its peak resource level.

The plastic recycler and 3d printer are run off this battery rack.

Secondary appliances for communications and media interaction are envisaged to be portable and have independent solar chargers.

Secondary lighting is by portable LED lights carried by the occupants to wherever they need it. There are no mains electrical plugs, wiring circuit or boards in the habitat

The habitats water supply is initially via the mains but as energy depletion increases water treatment will become more problematic in communities. The dwelling is designed to use a manual, portable, collection, filtration and treatment water system.

There is no foul drainage system into the building.

Sewage treatment is initially via the mains supply to a disposal point external to the dwelling to ensure maximum health control measures.

The portable, chemical WC is emptied into this

caped  SVP connection external to the dwelling.

If the sewage system locally is shut down due to energy depletion then the dwelling links to a bio-gas unit on the north of the dwelling.

This would comprise a slurry tank, digester, gas holder, outlet tank, compost tank, secondary digester, gas holder, and outlets to aeration tanks on the boundary of the site. The final output of the aeration tanks is spread into allotment plots in a rotational sequence over a six month period before being acceptable as a growing medium.

The portable solar powered shower can be emptied into to the grey water storage.

The kitchen waste water is held in a bowl and emptied into the grey water storage.

The dwelling can produce its own food crop off the green wall gardens. This reduces energy depletion in the acquiring and transporting of food.

Communities will shrink and compact after 2020 following oil depletion in order to conserve energy.

Outer suburb areas will become isolated, uninhabited and then recycled for materials.

It is envisaged that the maximum travel time from a habitation centre in a town or city will be one hour walking time.

The depletion of oil reserves, gas reserves and the necessary raw materials to maintain or replace a motor vehicle indicate that vehicles will be phased out after 2020.

Consequently the dwelling does not allow for a vehicle.

The dwelling is envisaged to be constructed by the occupiers.

Ian K Whittaker

UK Registered Architect



Visit the Garden Spaces websiteVisit the eDEN Garden Rooms websiteVisit the Gembuild website for garden offices & studiosFind out more about Green Studios Visit the Booths Garden Studios websiteVisit the Timeless Garden Rooms website Visit the Smart Garden Offices websiteVisit the Hideouts websiteVisit the ModBox Spaces websiteVisit the My Eco Space websiteSee what a garden room will look like in your garden