A three-unit Hivehaus, on sale for £55,000 with options to extend the honeycomb design, offers an alternative way on to the property ladder
Ancient Greeks originally theorised that the elegant shape of honeycomb, with its interlocking hexagons, was an example of nature’s efficiency. In the back garden of his home outside Wigan, Barry Jackson has taken similar inspiration to create an alternative form of housing.
The 52-year-old builder had been considering how to create a “man cave” on his property for his drum kit and photography equipment, when he thought of constructing a series of six-sided rooms which could be built and attached together in a honeycomb design.
The result, some three years later, is the Hivehaus, hexagonal rooms each of 100 square feet attached together to form a personalised building. It can be erected in four to five days by three builders, has no foundations, and can be used as a study, garden room, gym and possibly even transportable housing.
Describing the design as “anti-builder and anti-architect”, Jackson said the identical structures use standard off-the-shelf materials. A three-unit Hivehaus costs about £55,000, offering an alternative way to get people on to the property ladder.
“A lot of young people won’t ever have that chance that I had. They are still living with their parents in their 30s. It delays having families because people don’t feel that they belong anywhere, because they are stuck in some rental trap.
“The more I developed this idea, the more I saw that this could be developed for good and hopefully help people who can’t get on the housing ladder,” he said.
Jackson spent £20,000 building the showhouse that emerged from his idea in the back garden of the home he shares with his wife, daughter and various dogs and chickens. Each sideof the hexagonal rooms is two metres in length and can be made up of various combinations of panel or glass with internal doors sliding into the walls. Steel supports hold the roof – which has a dome to let in light. Each room can support two glass sides.
The wooden frame floor sits on feet that adjustable to compensate for uneven ground. Electrical wiring runs through the floor and lights are remote-controlled so there are no switches in the walls.
As well as the hexagonal spaces, Jackson has also developed smaller diamond shaped rooms with bathroom fittings. Decking in similar structured patterns can be used to make an outside area.
“How it is constructed is not how we have always had to – filling the ground full of concrete, bricks and mortar. I tried to take this back to the simplest form,” he said.
In theory, two or three units could be bought by a young couple who could then add to them over time as their financial circumstances improve, he said. “The house grows with your circumstances. It suits your circumstances.
“With this idea, every module is the same size and you think of the module as a space which you use for whatever – if you need another bedroom, you add another module.”
Jackson is looking for a large builder to supply and build the units. They are made offsite and delivered as flatpacks.
There are suggestions they could be used as homes for elderly relatives, young couples planning to buy land and live in them, and large companies using them as holiday rental units. People could rent out their main house while living in a Hivehausl. One film post-production house has asked whether they could be put on a roof in central London and used as edit suites.
Problems could arise, however, for those seeking mortgages. A bank is unlikely to lend on a house that could theoretically be taken apart and moved in a few days, Jackson said.
He has set himself the challenge of changing the way in which people view housing. “We are very much set in our ways, especially the British mindset, in how our home is our castle … we want to get on that housing market and own something,” he said.
“Housing should not be the way that it is now. It is a necessity I believe so everybody should be able to afford housing and be able to budget for housing.”
The Scandinavian-style buildings will not be for everyone. “This really is a lifestyle choice because it is a lot more minimal, a lot simpler and ‘I have not got all that money going out all the time, I can now do the hobbies that I want to do, I can travel’,” he said.
Where could you build?
If the Hivehaus is used as a garden room, studio or office, it can be built without planning permission. If it is to be lived in, however, permission is required, Jackson said.
He has heard a number of suggestions for uses, including one man who wanted to build 20 modules meandering through his Cheshire woodland with sections for each of his children. Jackson also has plans for two-storey versions of the same concept.
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Source: the guardian