RUSS was set up by direct descendants of two 1980s community-led housing initiatives in Lewisham, led by architect Walter Segal, who devised an innovative modular self-build system. Both are still thriving communities. Now with 800 members, they are on their way to raising the £8.6 million needed for their first project – 33 self-built affordable homes on a 1-acre site in Ladywell, leased from Lewisham Council for a peppercorn rent. It has been co-designed by its future residents, with architecture practice Architype. Volunteers are already on site constructing London’s first training facility for would-be community self-builders, a knowledge hub to share and inspire other communities to embark on affordable housing projects.

what is ft’work doing?

ft’work discovered RUSS on a visit to Walters Way, Walter Segal’s flagship self-built neighbourhood, and was impressed by their ambition to build thriving communities from the bottom up and by their own efforts. Already aware of the success of other community-led housing projects, ft’work was keen to help.

This support is still at an early stage:

  • help in securing funds for the knowledge hub
  •  suggestions for recording and evaluating RUSS’s work
  •  working with Architype, RUSS’s architects, to produce a Co-design Guide, in which the Ladywell project is to be a case study

“RUSS’s vision is to create sustainable community-led neighbourhoods and truly affordable homes right across London”

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