Imagine a city where entire neighborhoods could be constructed in a matter of days, rather than years. This happened in Oxley Woods, a development designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners near the town of Milton Keynes, England, that opened in 2007. The development consists of 145 units of varying sizes, and a single house took only three days to build.

The Oxley Woods development near Milton Keynes.

The Oxley Woods development near Milton Keynes.

Credit: Katsuhisa Kida


Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners are now exhibiting what they are calling an "evolution" of the Oxley Woods pre-fab system at a pop-up installation at the Royal Academy of Arts in London through Sept. 8, as part of the academy's exhibition, "Richard Rogers RA: Inside Out," on the firm's founder, which runs through Oct. 13.

The courtyard installation, called Homeshell, is a 3.5 story building constructed from a bunch of flat panels that were trucked in to the site. The Insulshell building system was developed by Sheffield Insulations Group (SIG) and Coxbench, and consists of pre-built timber interlocking panels. It took only 24 hours of work to build a mock apartment building in the middle of what was once just a courtyard. According to the firm's website, "A simple Homeshell design such as the prototype before you can be assembled and made watertight in 24 hours, while a six-storey, 24-unit block could be up and running in a month."

Workers lift in the structural walls for the Homeshell installation at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

Workers lift in the structural walls for the Homeshell installation at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

Credit: Miguel Santa Clara


The Homeshell installation is located in the Royal
Academy of Art's Annenberg Courtyard in London.

The Homeshell installation is located in the Royal Academy of Art's Annenberg Courtyard in London.

Credit: Miguel Santa Clara