Workhome Blog

Rotterdam Productive City IABR 2016

21 June 2016

Fantastic three-day trip to Rotterdam to contribute to 'Productive City' conference as part of IABR-2016. Lively reception to my lecture, warm generous hospitality and, the day after the formal summit, fascinating presentations on, and tour of, Rotterdam workhomes. It was great to see diverse approaches to blurring the living/working boundary.

And to cycle the streets of the city as a group of 8, including Rotterdam's Chief Planner and its Head of Urban Design, was completely novel, but wonderful, for me. Impossible in London for many reasons. Left with impression of Rotterdam as a city of possibilities - full of people with open, curious minds and a can-do attitude. Wonderful.


Book: Beyond Live/Work: the architecture of home-based work.

25 February 2015

Millions of people work in their homes or live at their workplace every day. However until now the building that combines dwelling and workplace [‘workhome’] has not been analysed as a type. Here, Frances Holliss traces the history of the workhome, analysing its contemporary form and assessing its social, architectural and urban potential. Beautifully illustrated with pictures of largely forgotten buildings, this timely book is essential reading for professionals, academics, or students with an interest in the future of working life, its buildings and urban forms. It is also aimed at a wider readership, including home-based workers themselves.

See here for the latest reviews - from the RIBA Journal, and by The Independent journalist Alex Johnson on his Shedworking website. Also a review by Ken Worpole in Architecture Today; and a review on the LSE book review website, and here for a review on Europe’s leading website on flexible working.

Buy here from the Guardian Bookshop or here from Amazon


Lord Whitty's Inquiry into Affordable Housing

10 January 2012

Housing Voice – the UK affordable homes alliance led by Lord Whitty – is conducting a National Inquiry into the Affordable Homes Crisis and how it may be solved, specifically to hear the “voices” of civil society on this important issue. Frances Holliss from the Workhome Project brings a concern that affordable housing should be fit for purpose, in terms of accommodating home-based work where required, to the Inquiry's Advisory Board.

The Inquiry’s terms of reference include:

“People’s housing aspirations and how these are being met in the current housing market including in different parts of the country. For example, is there adequate provision of affordable and decent (warm, not overcrowded and viable space for people who work from home) homes.”

Affordable housing is not generally designed to accommodate home-based work, particularly the home-based occupations, such as child-minding and catering, that are often carried out in affordable housing.

"We would welcome your views on what you think needs to be done to address the need for more [fit for purpose] affordable housing in your area. Your participation in our National Inquiry into the Affordable Homes Crisis will help us find out what the key issues are for those who can’t afford, or those who are struggling to afford, a decent home." 

Complete the online survey We want to hear individual voices and learn about your housing aspirations. Complete the online survey to give evidence to the Inquiry. The survey can be found on the Housing Voice website:

We would be particularly interested in the views of current or prospective home-based working residents of affordable housing regarding the suitability of their affordable housing [in terms of size, layout, proximity to the street etc] for home-based work. 

Question 4 asks whether your current home is large enough to work from [if necessary]; Question 8 offers space to include a comment about design for home-based work in affordable housing under ‘other’.




Quare Art Project, London

21 December 2011

Ex-Slade sculptors Faith Edwards and JT Lowen run the Quare Art Project. Wanting control of space in which they can work with their peers, they created a gallery in Edwards’ Spitalfields ground floor flat. Built in 1723, the building was originally a workhome for a silk dealer and in the C19 it was a dairy. It was taken over by Newlon Housing Trust as social housing in 1989. Taking advantage of the potential of both the central location and the space, Edwards and Lowen have run 13 shows since 2009. A film by Rebecca Birch, ‘The Year-Going’, was the most recent show [23 Sept - 2 October 2011].

In order to transform the small flat into a gallery, all traces of domestic habitation are erased. Edwards’ furniture and possessions are packed away into the bathroom, the wall mounted TV is removed, pictures and mirrors are taken down. Edwards goes to stay with Lowen for the duration of the show. The transformation is documented int he Workhome Project's Precedent database entry for Quare.

This workhome presents a new type, one that does not fit into existing Workhome Project typologies. Neither ‘live-with’, ‘live-adjacent’ nor ‘live-nearby’, this might be considered as an ‘either-or’ category. The spaces are used entirely, but serially, as entirely dwelling or entirely workplace, either-or…


Atelierwoningen in Amsterdam…

20 December 2011

Invited to Amsterdam to contribute to an atelier-salon on artists’ workhomes. The event, attended by artists, designers and intellectuals, took place in designers Paul Gangloff and Hilde Meer’s atelierwoningen [studio-apartment] in van Gool’s extraordinary and iconic 60s housing development, Het Breed.

Gangloff and Meer’s workhome is located in one of the ‘armpits’ of the scheme, where one of the snaking blocks changes direction by 90˚. Van Gool inserted an atelierwoningen at each such change of direction, as a way of resolving the lack of light in the centre of the block that would have been caused by turning the corner with a standard apartment. 

The scheme is made up of a jigsaw of different types of apartment, but no clues are given to the nature of the spaces behind the uninterrupted gridded elevations. Unlike other purpose-built artist’s studios [such as St Paul’s Studios in Talgarth Rd, London or Le Corbusier’s studio for Ozenfant] where studio spaces are clearly articulated through the use of glazing and changes in volume, the Het Breed atelierwoningen are not visible from outside. Their elevations are no different from those of two bedroom flats in the development.

The design philosophy behind this scheme for 1,150 apartments was that equal status should be given to each dwelling unit, large or small. One mechanism for achieving this was to make them indistinguishable from each other. While including a wide range of different sized apartments, as well as 20 atelierwoningen, the elevational treatment is identical for every unit. This was considered a form of democracy by the architects.

For another Amsterdam studio-apartment building, see Zomerdijkstraat Atelierwoningen.


Roald Dahl was a home-based worker too…

15 December 2011

Children's author Roald Dahl was a home-based worker. He worked in this hut ['live-nearby'...] just 20m from his house, every day for 30 years, sitting in an armchair with a 'writing board' on his lap. During his lifetime he was the only person to go in and out of his hut. In September 2011 the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre launched a project "which aims to preserve the interior of the humble but magical hut in which Roald Dahl wrote his unforgettable stories including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG, The Twits and James and the Giant Peach, the last of which celebrates 50 years in print in this year". Read more here.

The Workhome Project Precedent Database entry for Roald Dahl’s writing hut includes a photograph of the author at work in his hut in the year of his death.


Jewish Maternity Hospital, London

14 December 2011

An endangered historic workhome. See here for an article about a campaign being run by historian Tom Ridge to prevent its demolition.

"The ground floor contained three maternity wards, an operating theatre and three annexes, one of which contained the four free beds and two others with a room each for private patients.  The colour scheme was all white - walls, fittings and beds.  The kitchen and domestic offices were situated on the first floor, as were the superintendent's and nurses' bedrooms (painted pastel green with white fitted furniture) and living rooms.  There was also a small isolation ward, with bath and attendance rooms.  The Home had 12 beds." Lost Hospitals of London


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