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Reed Watts

Reed Watts Architects, London

Whistle-stop Housing

In our submission to XCO2’s  Greenskythinking competition, we re-imagined how in 2050 our railway infrastructure could become the catalyst for innovative, linear communities like those that inhabit our canals. We would make use of isolated, awkward pieces of land adjacent to tracks that are currently sitting idle.

We proposed the reuse of old carriage stock as a new housing typology in the interstitial spaces between tracks and on embankments. Redundant rolling stock would be converted into one or two bedroom homes. A subscription style land-rental for the re-purposed carriages would be managed by the rail operator who would also arrange overnight delivery of the homes by train. The homes would plug into a ‘facilities’ carriage which provides power, data and water.

Each community could make use of adjacent spaces such as archways under the tracks for high quality but affordable facilities for residents – giving the communities a shared place to interact.

Rail infrastructure will often act as barriers between adjacent communities, creating a fractured urban realm with low physical permeability, so these focal points would also act as gateways, allowing them to connect with their neighbours. Some of the spaces would be rented out to businesses at higher rates to help subsidise affordable rents for residents while also improving the long-term social and economic sustainability of the proposal.

To minimise energy use, the community takes advantage of its adjacency to the railway. By harvesting water and electrical energy from the tracks, the modules would require no extra electricity or gas and only limited water from the grid.

  • Project Type: Competition
  • Rank: Runner Up
  • Organiser: XCO2