The Lightbox House is a home with a twist: it can be customized and adapted to suit different lifestyles and budgets. You can choose to have two, three or four bedrooms and, as the household expands, so can the house, with the addition of a rooftop pod providing an extra bedroom or workspace. Above all, it’s a lovely house to live in: shaped to draw in the light with big windows at front and back, configured for easy, open-plan living, providing lots of space for living in and providing lots more for storing clutter.
The project came about when igloo Regeneration asked Ash Sakula to become one of six ‘home manufacturers’ for a pilot site in Pool, Cornwall. We teamed up with a timber frame manufacturer and a local builder and developed a product which we call the Lightbox House.
Because Ash Sakula’s work has a strong affinity for its end-users and their experience of the places we make, it came naturally to us to work with a procurement process that more intimately involves the eventual occupant. We weren’t just designing a concept though. We knew that we had to make the customisation experience easy and interesting for purchasers, so we set up the Lightbox House website to make the process simple and accessible: http://lightboxhouse.co.uk.
With large ground-floor windows at front and back, the Lightbox House is generous to its neighbourhood. It can be both open and connected when you are feeling neighbourly, or private and enclosed when you want space to yourself with your garden, books or kids. Out front, instead of an inhospitable and defensive front wall, we have placed a bench where you can sit out with friends and neighbours or where children can gather before heading for the playground.
The Lightbox House is highly sustainable, using a ‘fabric-first approach’ with thick walls, high levels of insulation and high-performance windows. Windows allow for solar heating in winter while a strategically sited fruit tree prevents excessive solar gain in summer. Customisation options include upgrading the house’s performance to passivhouse standards and choice of renewable energy options such as photovoltaic panels.
Custom-build housing is a variant of self-build that has come about because an enormous number of people aspire to build their own home, but the complexities of finding a plot, creating a design, getting planning permission and building it is daunting to all but the most determined. Compared to Austria, where self-build accounts for 80% of completions, only 7% of homes in Britain are self-built. The intention behind the Lightbox House model is to provide people with an affordable and accessible way to increase that proportion.