Often, therefore, it’s a toss-up between a cramped home in a connected community – where inventive storage solutions are mandatory and the kitchen table is where we work, eat, hobby, and hang out with our children, versus more living space but with it a sense of isolation and a reliance on our cars. It’s no surprise that the former often wins, hands-down.  So we were intrigued to come across another option.  See: Eco home improvements – how to make your house greener House by Urban Splash is a unique concept in housebuilding that delivers architect-designed, flexible, sustainable homes in joined-up, community-focused neighborhoods. Driven by an ethos it calls Live Well By Design, the developer is creating dynamic places to live with connectivity at their heart.

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Decisively doing away with the featureless suburban estate stereotype, House says its communities like Port Loop in Birmingham, New Islington in Manchester and Inholm in Cambridge – all in the UK – combine vibrant, beautifully designed, sustainable neighbourhoods with easy access – ideally on foot or by bike – to city centers.  Small independent cafes, arts initiatives, cycling clubs and community events bring these places to life, while proximity to water and biodiverse communal gardens planted with local species in alignment with the Japanese landscaping concept ‘gohon no ki’ provide the space to play, exercise and breathe.

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Architects shedkm (opens in new tab) and Glenn Howells Architects (opens in new tab) bring design credibility and sense of variety to the neighborhoods.  Town House is a spacious two- or three-story home which buyers can configure to suit their needs – open plan, multi-room or a combination across each floor creating their own layouts via House’s online design tool.  See: Rainwater harvesting – how to conserve a precious resource for use at home Row House is a modern mews house which can be specified with a roof terrace, and Mansion House offers contemporary dual-aspect apartments with one or two bedrooms. Huge windows bring natural light and space is absolutely key, so buyers can swap their crowded kitchen table for a home office, and their overstuffed under-bed storage for a walk-in wardrobe. With a mission to enable people to ‘be green without trying’, House neighborhoods are all about low carbon living, with energy-efficient homes, green transport options and shared services, right down to their sustainable methods of producing and constructing the homes. This level of innovation is made possible by House being a collaboration between UK developer Urban Splash (opens in new tab) and Seksui House (opens in new tab).  Pretty much unknown in the UK, Seksui House originated in Osaka in the 1960s and has grown into Japan’s biggest housebuilder. Founded on an uncompromising design philosophy, environmental agenda and commitment to customising homes around lifestyle, it’s now the global leader in the construction of net-zero-energy homes.   See: Eco heating – from heat pumps to boilers and furnaces See: Eco cooling – sustainable air conditioning for your home Graham Miller, who lives in a Town House at Port Loop with his partner Jac Doody, sums it up: ‘Honestly, the community at Port Loop is just amazing and there’s always an excuse to leave the house and enjoy the outdoor space. We love how light all the rooms are. It’s different from everything else on offer in Birmingham and we absolutely love living here.’