Grand Designs, Channel 4, TV review: the self-build homes squeezed into the tiniest spaces

The series continue to be an overarching lesson on architectural trends

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The Independent Culture

The usual home of the bravest, boldest, maddest couples on TV is, of course, Grand Designs and Kevin McCloud’s show about architectural anomalies was back on Channel 4 last night with a new “where are they now?” series, themed by location.

This one was about living in the city, which meant a selection of self-build homes ingeniously squeezed into the tiniest slivers of free space, spaces which “to many of us just appear as a place to dump a mattress or the odd fridge”.

Tours of the homes Grand Designs first visited over a decade ago made for more of an overarching lesson on architectural trends than the average episode.

For instance, using alternative crop-based materials was seen as cutting edge when architect Sarah Wigglesworth first built her Islington home in the late 1990s, but now everyone’s doing it. Kev was also decent enough to answer a question that often occurs to city dwellers watching Grand Designs; walls on wheels, watery courtyards and foundations on springs are all very well, but what does it matter, when many of us can’t even afford a badly-designed shoebox in the suburbs?