Kevin McCloud on urban infills, cohousing and Grand Designs Live

TV Presenter and Designer, Kevin McCloud talks self building innovations, his favourite eco-friendly brands and products, as well as Grand Designs Live 2018.

By Jenny Mcfarlane | 10 October 2018

TV Presenter and Designer, Kevin McCloud on self build innovations, his Green Heroes and Grand Designs Live 2018

Kevin McCloud at Grand Designs Live on stage

Image: Grand Designs Live

Tells us a little about this year’s Green Heroes

I am chuffed with this year’s selection! My Green Heroes are never just green products, they need to be beautifully designed, and have something about them which lifts the product, and make them a great piece of design.

This year we have a fantastic set of products including a fabric made from recycled cassette tapes. I love this, as it takes on a beautiful ethereal quality when woven, it has an amazing texture.

How can Grand Designs Live’s Plastic Free campaign educate visitors to become eco-friendly at home?

The short answer – we get a huge number of visitors to show, and there is no better place than alive event to launch an initiative so important than at a public event. We’re very excited to bring as many people as possible to the stage (and in the audience) to promote the initiative to all.

What are you most excited to see at Grand Designs Live this year?

I always love to see the Green Heroes when they all come together as they are my babies. I’m also, very excited to see the Grand Theatre, as we have redesigned the theatre, making it central to the event and give it more presence.

You recently wrote a column on urban infills. Why should self-builders consider urban infills? What benefits does infill architecture have on suburban areas?

We live in the most densely populated country in Europe, and land is at a premium, and if all self builders are going to do is go into the market and compete with small developer to buy land, the chances are they will find this very difficult to do and will probably wind up paying too much for it. However the place where the developer might not consider it possible to build, like using garden or garage space, knocking down an existing bungalow to create a new home, those sorts of plots are relatively easy to come by. These are the clever inventive things to do and can often work out cheaper and are more creative. Generally, the more creative you are in every aspect of your life the cheaper it becomes and the more personal it becomes.

Because of the low-density population of suburban infrastructure companies find it harder to supply as everything from sewerage to cable to electricity and gas has to be brought in, and if we keep sprawling suburbia the costs will rise and the social structure gets more and more strained. If we were to subtly densify suburbia by about 30%, no one would notice. You can maintain the character of the area/location and would also get population density to supply infrastructure.