The RUSS project at 12 Church Grove in Ladywell has been shaped by future residents from the start: co-designing the building, sharing ideas, defining principles, raising funds, building a community, advocating for CLTs, building the community hub… And now a group of future residents have picked up tools and materials to work on their own homes. In January 2023, building company ROOFF handed over five flats as ‘shells’ to be made into homes by the inhabitants themselves.

Each of the ‘shells’ consists of a watertight space, with doors and windows installed. Hollow voids and mysterious pipes are symbols of the opportunity, decisions and work to follow. 

One of the five flats as ‘shells’
The flats double up as on-site material storage
Lessons in plumbing with Cath Hassell
Front door to one of the self-build ‘shells’
Locations of services being decided by the residents themselves and marked onto walls

The first few weeks of the build have been focussed on plumbing and stud wall construction, realising the physical strength inherent to the process whilst comprehending the ongoing mental resilience.  

Skeletal structure of partition walls begin to take form
William, one of the self-builders, using tin-snips to cut materials for partition wall construction
Self-builders Amy and Jess taking measurements for plumbing and pipe routing
Working together for setting out on site

On site, a new everyday language is emerging for the self-builders: wafer-head screws, kerdi board and more.

Careful planning and teamwork in fixing the base for partitions.
Self-builder Kareem
Drawings and details

Learning through doing, the residents are adapting to new skills and experiencing the challenges of balancing work and caring for family with self-building their future homes. 

Morning site smiles from self-builders Lisa and Amalia

We will be following the progress of the self-builders until the moment they move in.

Photography and text by Ella Stoneham-Bull: I feel honoured to be able to document the progress of the self build team throughout the creation of their homes. I will be attempting to capture both the physical development and challenges of on-site life at 12 Church Grove over the coming months.

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