News - 9 March 2021

Integrated Solutions Needed to Solve Growing Housing Crises, New Report Says

To equip our cities for the future, multiple stakeholders need to work together to find integrated solutions to provide adequate housing for people of all incomes, UNStudio’s new Housing (Crisis) Report says.

With increasing numbers of people moving to cities for work, extreme housing shortages have been an ongoing problem in many global cities and developing countries for a long time. In recent years however, many European cities have started to experience their own housing shortages and have already put ambitious targets in place for the construction of large numbers of new homes over the next 10 to 30 years.

In the Netherlands alone, the government has stated that to solve their housing shortage, 1 million new houses need to be built in the country by 2030. So far, however, targets to reach this goal are not being met.

The fact that many cities now have insufficient affordable and social housing stock is the result of numerous factors. While part of the blame can reasonably be placed on inadequate investment, planning and foresight, other factors have exacerbated the problem significantly in recent years.

In our new report, UNStudio explores the growing housing crisis, some of the steps currently being taken in a number of European cities, and outlines possible further approaches that we believe could contribute to both short- and long-term goals.


In essence, we believe that cities can achieve much more if they adopt an integral approach to spatial development and to solving the problems that arise from the various claims that are currently made on our urban space.

Such an integral approach requires that all stakeholders – government, policy makers, planners, investors, developers, architects, engineers, contractors and residents – play their part in devising integrated scenarios and strategies where planning and building seamlessly coincide with political, social and economic ambitions.

With this in mind, we explore a number of approaches to how we can build healthy, affordable homes more quickly and economically.

One such way is by taking a modular approach, which we have previously seen successfully used on large-scale, complex projects such as the Doha Metro Network, where 37 station along three lines were designed and built in just seven years. Each station followed a defined set of architectural guidelines outlined in our Modular Design Manual, but were tailored to suit their various locations.

"It is a common misconception that affordable housing needs to be utilitarian in order to be financially viable,” said UNStudio’s founder and principal architect Ben van Berkel. “Another common misconception is that complexity, or variation, is costly; that simplicity or uniformity are the only viable approaches for the design of social or affordable housing.

The report also looks at how the integration of technology and the future use of data can positively impact our housing environments, looking to our 100 Homes project in Helmond as a model. Run by our sister company UNSense, it aims to develop a constantly evolving real-life learning environment, where we can develop and test an alternative and fairer economic model, one in which the residents themselves benefit equally from the exchange of their data.

The backbone of the new neighbourhood is formed around a digital platform, the ‘People Data Platform’.

To read the full report, click here.

To browse our previous housing projects, click here.

Lead photo credit: Note Thanun on UNSplash