In the lovely and historic Dutch university town of Nijmegen, a government-sponsored affordable housing initiative aims to lure young and on-a-budget residents into first-time homeownership with a range of inventive and often eco-friendly build-it-yourself flat-pack abodes with price tags starting at less than $150,000.
Aside from the allure of getting to choose from an intriguing architect-designed pool of 30 stylish prefabricated kit homes, the big — and most notable draw — of the program, dubbed I build affordable in Nijmegen (IbbN), is that there are no hidden expenses or worries of going over budget involved with purchasing one of the customizable packages — the cost is fixed from the get go. This is rather huge.
Each flat-pack home was designed by one of 20 different Dutch architecture firms that were commissioned by the city for the initiative. Many of the selected architects are young, local, and looking for an opportunity to enter the homebuilding market. And as mentioned above, it’s a truly mixed bag as to what prospective homeowners can pick from, a process likened by The Guardian to “picking furniture from the Ikea catalogue.”
For example, there’s the log cabin-style Deckhouse from EX.s Architects (pictured below); the rustic, straw bale-walled Hayhouse from LRVH Architects; (also pictured below), and both boxy detached residences and striking terrace houses from 8A Architecten (pictured up top and at bottom of page).
All IbbN homes were specially designed so that they can be assembled within six to eight weeks once delivered to the installation site.
Explains Elsbeth Ronner of LRVH Architects to The Guardian:
Since the economic crisis, both architects and the city are trying to find new ways to build houses. There are few developers willing to build, so the city is selling plots directly to the residents and letting them do it for themselves. People always think working with an architect will be more expensive and take longer, but this way they feel more secure. We've always wanted to make a really cheap, sustainable house and this gives us a great way into the market.
To be eligible for the IbbN loan program, prospective homeowners must have an annual income of between €30,000 and €47,000 (about $40,000 to $60,000) and be handy with an Allen key. And as noted by the Guardian while the IbbN scheme may be rather unique, the self-build home movement in the Netherlands is actually quite well-established: Almere, the youngest city in the country (Nejimegen is the oldest), is home to a planned community of more than 800 affordable kit homes.
Images: LRVH Architects, EX.S Architects, 8A Architecten