Award Nomination For Design To Lift People Out Of Poverty

The Platform - Sam Ashburner

A planning specialist from Miller Homes, who has designed a solution to improve impoverished communities across the globe, is in the running for a prestigious industry award.

Sam Ashburner, a land buyer based at the firm’s Basingstoke office, is one of four finalists at this year’s Next Big Thing competition, which forms part of the Estates Gazette Awards.

He will join the other nominees at a glittering ceremony, held at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on 20 September. If successful at the awards, he could walk away with the winner’s trophy and a £2,500 cash prize.

Competitors were asked to imagine how they could alleviate the problem of over-crowding and poor sanitation in slum towns around the world, without simply pulling them down.

Sam impressed the judges with his concept, The Platform, which provides units for small businesses and a public health research centre. The design is based on recycled shipping containers that can be moved easily according to local needs.

Speaking after his nomination, he said: “I am delighted to be in line for an award, especially as the competition attracts property specialists from around the world.

“This project was unlike anything I have undertaken for Miller Homes – however, it was great to apply the skills I have learned in my day job to something completely different.”

Sam, who is from Bath, said that many slum improvement plans focus on upgrading buildings and infrastructure, which can be slow and costly.

He added: “The Platform requires no local finance because it is funded by the research organisation. It is also at the centre of a community, and this means businesses can flourish while the population benefits from public health research.

“In areas where people do not have access to medical clinics and suffer high rates of mortality due to poor sanitation, this could lead to major improvements in community health and well-being.”

According to Sam’s plans, the building would be equipped with a composting toilet, water and sustainable power. Local businesses would occupy the unit rent-free for up to two years, before moving to permanent premises and allowing another company to move in.

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