A new neighborhood is about to pop up in the London borough of Merton, transforming a vacant lot into a community of 37 “plug-and-play” apartments that assemble with little more than a screwdriver. Welcome to the Y:Cube, a factory-built solution that aims to put well-designed roofs over the heads of Londoners who must contend with the city’s high housing costs.

Andy Redfearn, director of housing and development for YMCA London South West, cautions against thinking of the Y:Cube merely as...


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