Housing for a better world

Housing for a better world

Congratulations to Jas Bhalla Architects, the winner of our Housing for a better world competition.

We are pleased to announce the winning practice, Jas Bhalla Architects, will go on to work with us on a sustainable development in the Croydon area. We would also like to thank all our shortlisted practices, who we also hope to go on to forge relationships with. 

Below is a short exhibition of the submissions from our shortlisted practices, as well as the winning practice. 


An online exhibition

Architecture Doing Place

Gbolade Design Studio

Kristofer Adelaide Architecture

McCloy + Muchemwa

NimTim Architects


Parade Living by Jas Bhalla Architects

Much of Croydon’s retail frontage sits in low to mid density retail parades, serving the borough’s diverse population. Where these properties extend beyond a single storey, they typically remain in single ownership and provide rental accommodation above ground floor.

These units are rarely owner-occupied and often used to house minority groups with limited financial means. This includes staff working in the retail units below. Typically, the accommodation does not meet current space standards, provides no external amenity, and is accessed via service yards used to store refuse; they provide some of the worst living conditions across the borough.

Our proposal – Parade Living – seeks to address this malaise by demonstrating alternative models of housing are possible. The project illustrates these locations can deliver high quality, generous, and dignified new housing. Our proposals are characterised by dual aspect units designed to work with long and narrow plots. New accommodation will exceed NPS Standards, providing additional storage and external amenity.

Parade Living builds upon research conducted as part of our Radial Routes project; a city-wide planning initiative to promote densification along major routes in Outer London, including London Road in Croydon. In November 2019, the project was awarded the William Sutton Prize for Placemaking and Affordable Housing Design. The project seeks to promote coordinated redevelopment that could provide wider regenerative benefits beyond an individual site, including new cycling infrastructure, shared spaces and urban greening. The project encourages owners to bring their properties forward for redevelopment by identifying plots where there is more potential for increasing habitable space.

Our proposals are designed to utilise volumetric and/or panelised modular construction to deliver several benefits, including lowering embodied carbon, maintaining high quality, and improving viability. Preliminary plans illustrate how off-site manufacturing can be used without creating overly celurised, deep single aspect units.

At the heart of the project sits the idea that if we are serious about tackling race-based inequality, it’s important to develop a nuanced understanding how and why different cultures live a certain way. If we can do this, there’s a huge opportunity to not only deliver much need housing numbers, but also bring material change to some of the most disadvantaged groups across the borough.

100 Day Studio: Housing for a better world

Watch the live final judging of our competition below.

Why we set up this competition

The coronavirus pandemic has brought many issues across UK society into sharp focus, from the climate emergency to widespread inequality. As we begin to consider how we could create a better future for everyone, we have partnered with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust to launch a design competition on creating housing for a better world.

Our homes are central to our daily lives – now more so than ever – and can help to address issues surrounding health, sustainability and diversity. As such, we’re looking for creative ideas for how our homes can improve all three for residents and wider communities.

Together with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, we believe that the built environment should be designed by the people who live in it, celebrating and giving voice to people from every background.

Croydon is one of the most diverse boroughs in London. We are therefore looking for architectural practices that have a commitment to diversity through existing staff or planned diversifying action so that the winning practice’s design team reflects the rich cultural heritage of our local population.

The brief

Brick By Brick is committed to providing properly designed affordable homes for people living in Croydon that add value to communities and existing neighbourhoods.

We’re looking for bold and thought provoking ideas to explore how housing design could change in support of a better world. Ideas should address the following:

  • Croydon is an extremely diverse borough with a mix of communities and rich cultural heritage. How can we create housing and developments that respond to local issues, cultures and concerns and that best meet the needs of local communities?
  • Brick By Brick is committed to becoming a ‘One Planet Leader’ in housing development. As part of this our homes need to work towards being carbon zero and be part of the built environment in a way that provides wider ecological benefits for residents and the local community. How do we continue to deliver affordable housing that is environmentally responsible?
  • The current health pandemic means our homes are working harder to support our everyday lives. How could they be designed to better serve our everyday needs? How can we make sure they facilitate health and wellbeing whilst also being places to work and learn?

We want the best design for local communities, but it also needs to be feasible for local delivery. Your submission should focus on an outer London location such as Croydon and address the realities of delivering housing across multiple sites of varying scales, identifying efficient ways to deliver viable schemes. This should ideally take into account organisational structures, such as planning and procurement, that steer the delivery of housing.


This competition was open to all UK-based practices, and we were particularly keen to receive submissions from recently-formed practices, and practices with leaders and staff from BAME backgrounds.  We received nearly 80 submissions!



Competition judges

• Colm Lacey, Brick By Brick

• Chloë Phelps, Common Ground Architecture

• Anisha Jogani, Placemaking Team Leader, Croydon Council

• Betty Owoo, Architecture Foundation Young Trustee

• Yemi Aladerun, Islington & Shoreditch HA, Architects Benevolent Society,
RIBA Council Member

• Pragga Saha, Stephen Lawrence Trust alumni

• Mother Joyce, Croydon resident

Shortlisted practices

Architecture Doing Place

Architecture Doing Place are an architecture and urban design practice, who aim to produce beautiful buildings and spatial interventions from our immersion in the arts and contemporary architecture.

Gbolade Design Studio

Gbolade Design Studio’s response redefines the ‘home’ from the individual house, to a ‘collection of dwellings centred around community living’; encouraging the richly diverse Croydon community to interact with, learn from and grow together in order to create strong and integrated communities. The environmental response ensures new developments address Croydon’s flooding challenges, and becoming carbon-neutral, while utilising the wealth of local talent for supply and manufacture. We believe this response truly makes everyday places for people extraordinary.” – Tara Gbolade

Jas Bhalla Architects

“Our submission addresses the consistently poor living conditions found above Croydon’s linear retail parades – accommodation disproportionately used by minority ethnic groups. Housing in these locations rarely meets internal or external amenity standards, and is often accessed via services yards used to store commercial refuse. Through targeted intensification, Parade Living seeks to demonstrate these locations can provide alternative models of housing that are generous, flexible and commercially viable.” – Jas Bhalla Architects

Kristofer Adelaide Architecture

“A.F.R.O House is a concept house type that uses modular construction to satisfy high housing needs, with high quality manufacture and great design. As Berthold Lubetkin said, ‘Nothing is too good for ordinary people’.” – Kristofer Adelaide Architecture

McCloy + Muchemwa

“The principles of modularity, environmental synergy, and shared open spaces have driven our proposals for an adaptable system of housing. We want to tackle notions of density, biodiversity and community cohesion within the scheme. We initially identified structural timber and CLT as a flagship sustainable building method, this will allow for modern methods of prefabrication, faster and safer construction on site.” – McCloy + Muchemwa

NimTim Architects

“Our proposal is to ask a simple question to people in Croydon: ‘what kind of home and neighbourhood do you want to live in?. We will use playful, intuitive techniques to explore what kind of home they want to live in and how new homes could help them live healthier and happier lives.” – NimTim Architects