Inspired by my time living in the YMCA’s Y-Cube during Lowe Cost Living, a friend put me onto The Hejimans One. A prefabricated house that can be set up in one day and moved anywhere by lorry. It aims to solve two major problems facing Amsterdam; a shortage of affordable rental options and the waste of vacant land awaiting redevelopment. Amsterdam, like London, has a serious issue with a lack of good quality affordable housing.
After dropping Heijmans a line, I was invited to spend a weekend testing out one of there prototypes on Zeeburgereiland, a barren wasteland on the fringes of Amsterdam.
The concept is the brain child of 28 year old of Anneke Timmermans, an employee of Hejimans, who felt there was nothing available for the 25-35 market who had outgrown shared rental accommodation but could not afford to pay the rents demanded for a studio flat. With rents targeted at €700 euros PCM for 450 sq.ft, the concept is genuinely affordable.
On entering the house, you can’t help but be blown away by the design, with particular focus spent on high ceilings and the use of natural light. The building is split between into a mezzanine, with a bedroom on the top deck and a sleek kitchen, shower pod and living area on the ground floor. Functional, sustainable and stylish, it’s a stunning piece of design.
Timmermans informed me that they were looking to place the Heijmans 1 on a vacant plot of land for an average of five years before moving on. The houses have an expected lifespan of 25 to 30 years and are currently connected to existing infrastructure for water, sewage, and electricity, although Timmermans says they are experimenting with solar roof panels, with the ultimate goal of making the houses self-supporting.
The concept is commendable, but the main constraints are two fold; how you go about obtaining the funding needed to build this on scale, and subsequently, how you ensure you always have vacant sites to move onto. Two major hurdles.
That said, this is definitely worth keeping an eye on…