Grab a hefty chunk of the TDC Regeneration budget. This is the prize money. The competition: affordable, quick-build, long-life, green housing. The location: Manston’s runway, 2.7km of high performance concrete and tarmac, ready-made foundations for just about anything. Established manufacturers attracted by the kudos can offer designs straight from their existing catalogues. Newcomers, green building groups, small design firms, etc will be drawn by the money as well. Large and small alike, all these people like winning competitions, particularly if there’s a cash prize.
The criteria can consist almost entirely of popular buzz-words: zero carbon footprint; recycled/sustainable materials; easy assembly; reproducable; removable; practical; flexible; and so on. A key condition is that each competitor puts up at least TWO identical copies of their buildings – one is to be used as the walk-around exhibit, the other(s) will house real people.
The TDC environmental people, aided and abetted by utility companies, Government departments, and the like, can pepper the inhabited houses with environmental and energy monitoring gadgets. The real people living in the new green houses can give a running commentary (video-blog?) on how live-in-able their homes are in practice. These two factors are added to the mix (cost, green-ness, impact on local economy, etc.) when choosing the winning design, which will receive a quarter of the prize pot.
If there are enough proposals of a high enough standard, one or two dozen designs could be chosen to be built. At a stroke, you have a green housing showcase, open air research lab and attention magnet rolled into one.
Re-run the competition at three month intervals. By the end of the year, you will have a green housing exhibition park with 50 to 100 different innovative green homes, on show and being lived in by real people. There’s nothing like it anywhere in Kent, probably anywhere in the country. It will attract interest, visitors, businesses and investment. Affordable housing is necessary, and will probably remain so for a while. Green housing is increasingly popular. House-building is a tried and tested way of generating local employment, and supports its own ecosystem of trades, suppliers and services.
As an alternative use of the Manston site, this ticks a lot of boxes. Agree?