Early Career Researcher's Prize (ECRP)

The prize gives early career housing researchers an opportunity to showcase their work to a wide and influential audience. The competition is open to those with up to eight years research experience. Candidates with or without a PhD, and those working within academic or non-academic institutions (the voluntary sector, think tanks, membership organisations, the media, housing associations etc) are welcome to apply. Please note that time spent in doctoral-level research study counts as research experience (as such, entrants who spent three years completing their PhD may have up to five year’s further work experience). Co-authored papers are permitted in cases where all authors meet the entry requirements. It is open to UK and non-UK applicants. It is our preference that papers have a focus that matches the broad interests of Thinkhouse.  This is policy publications that cover ways to increase the amount and quality of the UK’s housing stock and the related economic, social and community benefits of doing so.  However, the judging panel will accept papers that they consider are relevant to housing and related issues but please contact us beforehand. We will consider think pieces, review papers synthesising existing evidence and policy analysis, papers sharing the findings of original empirical research or investigative journalism type pieces. Journal articles or other papers already published or under review will be accepted. Your submission should be between 4,000-8,000 words in length and submitted in a MS Word format, which includes the following information: author(s) name(s), institutional affiliation, current job title, email address, paper title, 200 word abstract and word count. The competion opens in March and papers must be submitted to contact@thinkhouse.org.uk by the end of September.

The 2023 Prize

The winner was Dr Philip Graham, a UKRI Design Innovation Scholar, the University of Cambridge, Department of Architecture with his paper "Living without the ladder: How adjustable housing could help us thrive in the 21st Century" The runner-up was Dr Sharda Rozena, Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at University of Sheffield for her paper "One Kensington Gardens: buy-to-leave gentrification in the Royal Borough "


Living without the ladder: How adjustable housing could help us thrive in the 21st Century

Dr Philip Graham

Since 2008, the number of UK homes being bought and sold has fallen markedly. This liquidity problem forces aspiring homebuyers to make compromised choices and thereafter, makes it harder to trade-up. Meanwhile, housing in higher density areas is hard or impossible to adjust, such that more households will experience inappropriate housing for longer. In my research, I ask what is needed to give people real choice over time, so that more marginal homeowners - an important but overlooked group at the lower ends of the UK’s dominant tenure group - can thrive after the property ladder. I show that more ‘adjustable housing’ is not only about dwelling space, but needs to include other ways of owning, governing and sharing that make better use of the space and carbon bound up in our homes. This produces a more complete understanding of what is needed for people to live together, separately, in an environment that enables them to continuously adjust their housing to changes in career, family, education and care needs over our longer, healthier lifespans. These are examples of the episodic pathways that have come to characterise 21st Century living, as highlighted by recent shocks such as Covid-19 lockdowns and spikes in interest rates and energy prices.

Download the Paper

Runner Up

One Kensington Gardens: buy-to-leave gentrification in the Royal Borough

Dr Sharda Rozena

One Kensington Gardens is a large nine-storey luxury apartment building on High Street Kensington. Rarely are there any lights on. The building exemplifies the many buy-to-leave homes in Kensington and Chelsea, the richest local authority in the UK. Looking at these homes from the perspective of residents and councillors who live and work in the borough, I explore how buy-to-leave housing hollows out community, increases the cost of living, sanitises public space and results in exclusionary and physical displacement. I also identify what role the local authority has in the process of financialising housing in the borough, including how councillors work with developers to make decisions that do not meet the needs of the residents they have been elected to serve. By concentrating on the voice of residents, I show how buy-to-leave homes reinforces the super-gentrification of the borough and becomes another form of gentrification that contributes to displacement.  

Download the Paper