Council hopes micro dwellings built on spaces between houses and gardens will revive neighbourhoods.

'Gap homes' – so-called because they will be constructed in small spaces between houses and gardens – would be made off site and dropped into place across the city.

Neighbourly connections and interactions

The concept, which its developers say is the first of its kind, features areas of shared green space, community gardens and outdoor seating to encourage neighbourly connections and interactions. 

A consultation on the first proposed site in Horfield, to the north of the city centre and close to Southmead hospital, has been unveiled by the city council.

The council said in its consultation: “The intention is to deliver nine affordable homes on this site and we are exploring opportunities for how these will be let to benefit the local area.

“This project will revitalise the disused garage plots and deliver much-needed homes. Manufacture of the houses would largely be carried out off-site which would cause less disruption than a traditional build during the construction phase.”

The lack of affordable housing is one of Bristol’s most pressing problems, with the city’s mayor, Marvin Rees, recently describing gentrification as a “ferocious challenge”. 

Architects BDP, which has come up with the gap house, said: "Factory constructed, contemporary and cost-effective eco-homes designed to fit into small urban spaces, such as garage plots, to address the housing crisis.

"Our interdisciplinary team has developed a stylish and sustainable prototype home which offers a compact living space manufactured from timber, reusing foundations of existing garage structures where possible, to offer low carbon living with no combustion sources.

Downsizer living

"Its flexible design means it can be adapted for different uses, temporary accommodation and downsizer living, using shared communal facilities.

"It offers opportunity for mass customisation through standardisation of the chassis (using cross laminated timber or structural insulated panel systems) and personalisation of internal and external finishes/layout. A digital twin can be made in advance then manufactured with economies of scale. This also allows the capture of data through pre and post occupancy evaluation."

Bristol has an estimated 2,000 garages on 300 sites, so BDP says the concept has huge potential in terms of helping to tackle the city’s housing crisis.

Martin Jones, landscape architect director in BDP’s Bristol studio, said they could work well as homes for key workers. He said 'gap homes' could be rolled out in cities across the UK.

They will have two storeys, including an open-plan living/dining room and a kitchen with a bedroom upstairs. He said: “It’s important they look stylish.”

Planning permission is to be sought for the first gap homes in Horfield.