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Our favourite low-cost builds

We’re continually impressed and inspired by creative projects that have been achieved on a small budget. From fellow architects to community projects and self-builders; check out our favourite builds that haven’t cost the earth.

By the way, if you’re a self-builder take a look at our informative guide to financing your project here.

URBAN RIGGER, Copenhagen – BIG

By and large, the Danes are a couple of decades ahead of us. Here they are thinking sustainably: upcycling shipping containers to save the approximate 1100 tonnes of CO2 required to build a new home. Socially it gives students a home and a hub, a place for ideas to thrive. And it’s innovative, making use of the water and creating variety within the urban landscape. [Marcus]

Sort Hus, Copenhagen – Sigurd Larsen

Using prefabricated elements, a simple layout and leaving surfaces such as the plywood walls and concrete floor exposed – this small house cost 1500/m2 and lets in plenty of natural light. [Claire]

Field of Wheat, Branston Booths – Studio Polpo

Built to host film projections and shared meals over a two day period, the temporary structure was made on a near-zero budget using local waste materials and straw bales. There’s something lovely in its primitive simplicity; providing shelter from the wind and rain for people to come together and celebrate. Its existence and form is a result of its circumstances, which makes me a little jealous as I’d love to have been involved! [Liam]

Credit: Peter Sharpe
Freya & Robin, Kielder Water and Forest Park – Studio Weave

I just discovered Studio Weave thanks to Claire and instantly fell in love with the magical story of Freya’s cabin (pictured) and Robin’s hut. I’d like to sit there with my husband and dog. [Fera]

Visible Studio, Somerset – Invisible Studio

Piers Taylor often posts images of himself in his studio and it looks a delightful place to work. It was constructed to demonstrate the possibilities of low-grade home-grown timber and amateur (but paid) labour. For an office space of 55m2, it’s impressive that it was built for £15,000 including materials and labour. [Paul]

Ada Street, London – Amin Taha

This 10 unit, mixed-use development in London was completed for the ridiculously low £850/m2. Although this excludes the contractor’s profits, overheads and prelims [he chose a share of the development’s profit instead] it’s still extremely impressive given the quality of the design and the internal finishing! I particularly love how loud and proud the scheme is when viewed next to its scrubby collection of neighbouring buildings. [Alan]

Credit: Joubert Loots
Social Development, Port Elizabeth – Indalo and Collectif Saga

This project shows that with a very low budget you can achieve amazing things. I particularly love the sliding doors detail; skateboards used as the sliding system, which is so ingenious! [Julie]

Do you have a favourite low-cost project? We’d love to know. Get in touch, or head over to our Facebook page and leave us a comment!