Visionary architect Marks Barfield has created the Skyhouse, which is designed to solve the housing shortage while saving the environment. But will it ever get off the ground?
David Marks and Julia Barfield, the husband-and-wife team behind the London Eye, have launched their latest speculative design.

The Skyhouse is a high-rise residential concept consisting of a bundle of three towers linked by a central atrium. Each cluster, up to 200 m high with 50 storeys, could contain 300-500 homes, giving a density of 180 homes a hectare.

“Skyhouse will do for high-rise housing what the London Eye did for the Ferris wheel,” said Julia Barfield, adding that the duo have “caught the bug” for taking projects from concept through to completion.

Having developed the Skyhouse design concept, the duo are now seeking backers – particularly those with sites suitable for the £100m towers. “We are offering landowners and investors the opportunity to invest in the Skyhouse concept,” said David Marks. The architects have the backing of a consortium including financial adviser Abros, property agent FPDSavills and social housing provider Peabody Trust.

The architects hope Skyhouse will help ease the South-east’s housing shortage and prove viable for mixed-tenure developments. They calculate that key worker accommodation could be provided at about £70,000 for a single bedroom apartment and less than £115,000 for a two-bedroom flat.

The Skyhouse has strong environmental credentials. The towers are designed to allow wind to pass through the atrium instead of being directed down to ground level – a common design flaw that creates blustery conditions around the base of many tall buildings. Turbines set between the towers convert this wind into electricity.

More electricity is generated

by photovoltaic panels mounted on the glass facades of the apartments. As an amenity for residents, there are double-height, sub-tropical

“sky gardens” on every 10th floor.

Market research on the Skyhouse by MORI shows that the public’s memories of shoddy 1960s council blocks still taint the image of

high-rise living. But Barfield is confident that the British can learn to love towers in the same way as the people of New York, Singapore and Hong Kong.

“People have a hang-up about 1960s blocks but I don’t see that as a big problem. Peoples’ appetite

for design is growing very fast. High-rise, mixed-tenure housing needs to be looked at.”