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The Y:Cube, a prefab modular block of apartments has just been completed in London. It will provide comfortable and affordable units for the city’s homeless. Being modular and prefabricated offsite, the constructions costs can be kept low, so the rent will be about 65 percent of the market rate for similar apartments. It was designed by architecture firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and built for the international YMCA youth charity, who will also be in charge of renting it out to the homeless.

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The apartment complex is located in the Mitcham area, which is in southwest London. It consists of 36 one-bed studios, each measuring 280 sq ft (26 sq m). The entire complex is constructed using high quality and eco-efficient materials, like, for example, renewable timber. The buildings are also well-insulated, so very little or no heating will be needed in the winter.

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To keep the costs low and rents affordable, the necessary parts were all prefabricated in a factory and already had all the plumbing, electrical and heating infrastructure already built in upon transporting them to the building site. The prefab units can be stacked side-by-side or on top of each other to create the apartment buildings. Once this is done, all the utilities are connected.

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This building method is very efficient and speedy, making the Y:Cube process well adapted for quickly developing unused sites in urban areas. The buildings can also be easily dismantled and transported elsewhere should the area where they are located become unavailable.

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The units will be made available to the homeless referred to it by the London Borough of Merton, or those who were previous residents of the YMCA London South West. The YMCA is also planning on building more Y:Cube apartment blocks in London, and elsewhere in the UK in the near future.