Stackable units become plug-and-play housing for the homeless

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Y:Cube one-bed studios each have an area of 26 sq m (280 sq ft)(Credit: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners)

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A prefabricated modular block of apartments has been opened in London, to provide accommodation for the homeless. The Y:Cube concept was announced earlier this year and its method of construction means that rent can be kept low. Residents will pay just 65 percent of the local market rate.

Y:Cube was developed for the international YMCA youth charity, which, among its activities, offers accommodation for young homeless people in the UK. Designed by architecture firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Y:Cube is conceived as "move-on accommodation" for people leaving homeless hostels, such as those run by YMCA.

Based in the Mitcham area of south west London, this first deployment of the concept has 36 one-bed studios, each with an area of 26 sq m (280 sq ft). The units are made from "high quality, eco-efficient materials," such as renewable timber, and are said to be so well insulated as to require little or no heating, even during the winter.

The affordability of the accommodation is made possible by its low-cost construction method. The units are prefabricated in a factory with utilities infrastructure built into them. They can then be easily transported to site and stacked side-by-side and on top of each other, after which water, heating and electricity can be easily connected.

This "plug-and-play" approach makes the Y:Cube concept well-suited to brownfield sites, which may be currently unused but likely to be developed in the future. Not only can the land be made use of in the interim, but the Y:Cube development can be easily dismantled and transported to another location if need be.

The Y:Cube in Mitcham opened on Sept. 8, and will house residents who have either been referred by the London Borough of Merton or who are a previous resident of the YMCA London South West. The YMCA says it hopes to roll out other Y:Cube developments in London and across the UK.

The video below is a timelapse of the Y:Cube construction.

View gallery - 14 images

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