We Can Make

White Design, Knowle West, Bristol, 2017


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Eastern Elevation 

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  • Eastern Elevation    
  • Entrance    
  • Balcony    
  • Housewarming BBQ    
  • LED Lighting    
  • Homemade Furnishings    
  • Homemade Stool    
  • Homemade barstool    
  • Internal View    
  • External cladding    
  • External View    
  • GA Plan    
  • GA Elevation    
  • GA Section    
  • TAM Carbon Capture and Storage    
  • TAM Carbon Capture and Storage    
  • TAM Filwood Site Plan    
  • Variations    
  • Concept Vision of Micro-sites    
  • Bespoke Door Detail    
  • Detailed Section    

In response to the housing crisis, We Can Make provides a new model for community-led housing. Providing truly affordable, sustainable homes that are designed and built to meet local need using local assets and skills.

We Can Make is a civic innovation project focussing on the re-imagination of wider legal, financial, and policy frameworks surrounding housing. It enables citizens to use their own assets and know-how to become the developer.

Partners Knowle West Media Centre and White Design have brought together local people, artists, architects, policy-makers, academics and industry professionals to explore new approaches to providing the homes that the community want and need. This process has found that the solution could lie in identified micro-plots within the back gardens and spaces between homes, allowing families to stay near vital support networks. These are abundant on many low-density estates across the UK. In Knowle West alone, We Can Make mapped over 1500 micro-sites that could fit a new 1-2 bedroom home. A local Design Code is being developed with the local authority and community to provide a more accessible planning process for these micro-sites.

A prototype 1 bedroom home was built beside Filwood Community Centre to test how a 'flying factory' production method for these new homes could work. It was designed by White Design and built by ModCell and they called it the TAM. TAM was prefabricated locally within a farmer's barn using timber and straw. The cost of the unit is only £90,000 and can be reduced to £75,000 for multiple orders. The design exceeds current building regulations, technical space standards and approaches Passive House level of environmental performance. Highly sustainable materials are used across the building including larch cladding, recycled paper-fibre boarding, compressed straw partition walls, clay plaster and triple glazing. The on-site completion took just 10 weeks. Local residents were employed for its construction and artists worked with the community to make the internal furnishings. At the grand opening and housewarming on 7th September, over 400 residents came to visit for a BBQ and enjoyed the music of local artists. Over 70 local people have since signed up to stay overnight and try out living in it.

The project has recently received funding from Power To Change. It is also currently going through the final application stages for funding from The Nationwide Foundation and is shortlisted for ERDF. The Power To Change funding is supporting the set up of the legal and financial frameworks needed in order for the project to progress to the next stages in partnership with Bristol City Council.


  • Begun: Jun 2017
  • Completed: Sep 2017
  • Floor area: 36m2
  • Sector: Civic
  • Total cost: £90,000
  • Funding: White Design & Knowle West Media Centre
  • Procurement: Traditional
  • CO2 Emissions: 9.75kg/m2/year
  • Address: Filwood Community Centre, Barnstaple Road, Knowle West, Bristol, BS4 1JP, United Kingdom

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