Urban development reaches new heights

Is air space development the answer to the UK’s housing crisis? Box Architects’ Associate Director, Angela Newton explores how modern methods of construction are transforming rooftop extensions.

“The benefits of ‘going up’ are many and varied. Not only will air space development provide additional housing, it can also rejuvenate under-utilised existing buildings, add value and improve the public realm.

It’s sustainable, doesn’t further choke ground-level sites in our towns and cities, and is an effective way of creating additional accommodation in previously untouched or discounted locations. For developers, therefore, it’s an attractive commercial option – particularly as the Government is looking to extend permitted development upwards on certain existing buildings.

Here at Box Architects, we’re specialists in rooftop extension design and are currently applying our knowledge and skills to maximise developmental potential within the constraints of existing buildings.

While creating solutions that are visually attractive, we’re also embracing modern methods of construction. For example, steel frame systems provide a complete load-bearing superstructure that can be assembled in situ, and have many advantages over traditional methods of construction. They are lightweight, quick to install, durable and suitable for confined sites (therefore ideal for city centre construction). This flexibility makes lightweight steel frame systems perfect for penthouses or high-level inset structures, where it’s important to keep loads to a minimum.

The additional value that can be created in a project for developers – private or public – can be significant. We have worked on several ‘air space’ residential projects across the country, including our projects at Boar Lane in Leeds (above) and Furnival Square in Sheffield, where a two-storey rooftop extension boosted the accommodation by 12 apartments (that’s 21%). But air space development is not restricted to residential accommodation. We’re working on a range of city centre office developments that take advantage of this method of expansion.”

To find out more, or ask us about a project you are involved in, please get in touch.

“Air space development can provide additional housing, rejuvenate under-utilised existing buildings, add value and improve the public realm.”

Angela Newton, Associate Director, Box Architects