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Residential architecture trends for 2019

From tiny homes to huge windows, eco-friendly energy to plants on your walls, here's how architecture is looking in 2019.

Minihomes

Population growth and rising housing costs mean that, particularly in towns and cities, making the most of space has become more crucial than ever. Architects have had to challenge the perception of how much space we actually need.

Microhomes are defined by the British Property Federation as those with an area of between 20 and 40 square metres. Scottish craftsman and builder Jonathan Avery builds a product called the Nesthouse, which is just 3.4m wide. Now this is small – but is that a bad thing? Aside from being more environmentally friendly and cheaper to run, small homes can feel very simple and freeing, as you think about what you really need, and probably downsize some of your other possessions at the same time.

The solution with small homes is to be clever with how you use the space, from using small, camping-style appliances to clever furniture like fold-out tables and roll-out beds. If you don’t have the luxury of several different rooms, dividers and sliding doors can be used to create different areas as and when you want them. And you can always build up – a three-storey home gives you half as much space again as a two-storey home without requiring any more land.

Sustainable architecture

Sustainable architecture is definitely one of the biggest residential architecture trends in 2019. Homeowners are looking more and more at both the environmental impact their homes have day to day, and the impact of the building process itself. Local materials and techniques, and recycled and recyclable materials, are becoming ever more important, as are efficient insulation and renewable energy sources like solar power, wind power and heat pumps.

Rainwater harvesting – collecting rainwater to use in toilets, washing machines and the garden – cuts your bills as well as saving water. Green walls or living walls – walls which you grow plants on – take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, provide habitats for insects and help to insulate your home.

Architects are even going one step better than zero-energy homes, and designing buildings that produce more energy than they use. The Powerhouse Brattørkaia, in Trondheim, Norway, is an eight-storey office block designed to supply 485,000 kwh of electricity a year to the country's national grid – enough to power around 22 Norwegian homes.

Health and wellbeing

The World Health Organisation states: “Whether people are healthy is determined by their circumstances and environment.” Our homes can have a significant impact on our health and wellbeing, and this is something that's being considered more and more – the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment have both produced reports into this in the last decade.

For example, it's known that fresh air, daylight and connections to nature are important for our physical and mental wellbeing, hence many people who build their own homes incorporate large windows and sliding or bifold glass doors.

If your home has a garden or countryside view, you'll want to make the most of it, maybe even positioning your rooms accordingly so the room you spend the most time in is the one with the best view. But even if your view is nothing exciting, it's still important to maximise your ability to see outside and get plenty of natural light.

A well-designed kitchen that's a pleasant place to be is more likely to be one in which you enjoy spending time making healthy meals. Something as simple as seating, which allows other people to sit and talk to you while you cook, can turn a kitchen from a functional room into a space for socialising and enjoyment.

If your home has a garden, consider incorporating a vegetable patch and some fruit trees so you can grow your own produce – which isn't just healthier in itself, but also reduces the environmental consequences of buying fruit from the supermarket, from vehicle pollution to plastic packaging.

Indoor plants will take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen to help keep the air in your home fresh – some types of plants, such as spider plants, are thought to further improve air quality by taking in some of the chemicals we use in our homes.

Prefab homes

Modern prefab homes are of good quality. Because they're built off-site, with the constituent parts made in factories, construction is quicker and less weather dependent.

Two huge prefab towers are being built this year in Croydon – a 44-storey and a 38-storey tower together containing 546 homes – and developer Persimmon has been a significant producer of prefab homes for years at its Midlands factory, where it takes just an hour to manufacture a house.

Designing for older people

Some 18 per cent of the UK population are now aged 65 and over – and as we get older, we may need to adapt our homes a little for mobility purposes. Often small measures can make all the difference: floors you're not likely to slip on, decent lighting, even just decluttering – sometimes all you need to do to make a room or corridor easier to get around is just move the furniture.

Lots of things can be installed at different heights to make them easier to use: furniture, cabinets, worktops, electrical sockets, handles, thermostats and light switches. Wider corridors allow easier access for someone using a walking frame, or two people walking side by side, and level thresholds remove a trip hazard. Think about the future too – make sure rooms that could be converted into a downstairs bedroom and bathroom. Take a look at our article on bathroom renovations for inspiration.

South east London architects Bluelime Home Design have been designing, improving and extending homes across London and Kent for 13 years. Our team of architects come from all over the world, bringing with them ideas and innovations from across the globe – we're constantly learning how to do things differently. We have offices in DartfordBromleyErithBexley and Croydon, but can work much further afield. Call us on 01322 517632 for a free architect consultation.

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