Homeworld '81: Forty years since Milton Keynes' iconic housing expo that helped shape modern homes

Homeworld '81, a housing expo that was held in Milton Keynes, is soon to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

Between 4-16 May, Living Archive MK, Pooleyville and MK Council are supporting the delivery of an online programme of talks, screenings, events and activities celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Homeworld ‘81 - a significant and nationally important Housing Expo.

Commissioned by Milton Keynes Development Corporation, Homeworld ’81 firmly established Milton Keynes as a leader in innovative, sustainable housing design. This free online programme will explore innovation then and how it relates to Milton Keynes now, with the new town’s aspirations to become the UK’s first carbon-neutral city by 2050.

In May 1981, over 150,000 people paid to visit Homeworld - the first of three international housing exhibitions held in Milton Keynes (Energyworld in 1986 and Futureworld in 1992 followed). Set against the backdrop of the Oil Crisis of the 70’s and the growing Environmental Movement, the criteria for exhibiting at Homeworld ‘81 was innovation.   

Thirty-six homes were designed and built in Bradwell Common, a short walk from Central Milton Keynes, by an international group of developers and architects which included celebrated New Zealand Architect Roger Walker’s only building in the UK, the World House.

Ranging from studio starter homes to large five bed detached houses, Homeworld incorporated innovative building techniques as well as internal features such as alternative heating systems and energy saving appliances. Homeworld 81 laid the groundwork and standards for what has now becoming commonplace in many of today’s homes.

The Sunday Times, Ideal Home Magazine and the BBC’s Money Programme – which monitored the energy efficiency of Superhomes’ Future House 2000 for a year after it was built – also supported the project and help to drive visitors from across the UK to Milton Keynes.

As we now search for new innovative, cost effective and ingenious ways to redesign our homes for 21st century living and working, Homeworld and its lessons are as relevant today as they were in 1981.

The programme features contributions from:

  • Architect John Doggart, who played a central role in the delivery of Homeworld 81, as well as co-developing the first energy rating system for housing.
  • Professor Tadj Oreszczyn, Professor of Energy and Environment, UCL Energy Institute.
  • Curl La Tourelle Head Architects on the unique design importance of new towns.
  • Ben Adam-Smith, Founder of Home Planning Help on what people can do themselves to make their own homes and garden spaces greener and healthier places to live.
  • Josh Tidy, Heritage Manager, at the Letchworth Garden City Archives will discuss the 1905 Cheap Cottages Exhibition – an early example of Housing Expos in the UK. 

A specially commissioned documentary film, produced by the Living Archive MK, combining archival material and interviews with those involved with Homeworld 81 will also premiere as part of the programme. 

Find out more here: www.homeworld2021.uk.