Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A 'Portakabin' on your roof?

The city of Barcelona is now authorising the addition of pre-fabricated apartments on the roofs of some apartment blocks, as one means of solving the city's perennial housing crisis. The apartment modules are pre-fabricated in the factory and transported and lifted by crane onto the roof of the building, where final connexions are made within 24 - 48 hours.

The buildings selected are normally those within a row of apartment blocks where the 'full height' has not been used, and adding the prefabricated modules can help improve the aesthetic appearance, as well as discouraging random use of flat roofs for storage or washing lines.

The developers also argue that the more even distribution of weight can help reinforce a building and that no strengthening of the foundations is required. In some cases landscaped gardens and terraces have also been added, and the lift (elevator) extended to reach the new top floor.

Further arguments point to the saving in land costs, discouragement of urban sprawl as less land is eaten up for housing and access roads, and that adding to the city's urban population means more efficient use of the city's existing services such as public transport, shopping and entertainment.

Would this work in France - where the Paris municipal authority has already spoken about extending some buildings upwards? Private apartment buildings are owned in common by their resident occupiers and managed by a syndic, who can object to and block certain developments, even when planning permission has been given by the local authority. There might also be objections from owners who occupy the existing top floor and do not wish to see a new neighbour appear on their roof!

Further information and a video (English subtitles) can be found on faircompanies.com