Modular Housing

Meeting Londons 21st centurary housing needs

Bedroom with desk bedSocial media was aghast recently with news that there was a box room in Lewisham that was being rented for £74pw – it had a desk for a bed, broadband cabling dangling from the ceiling and not enough room to swing a cat.

I hope that we can agree the housing situation in London is desperate, when these kinds of (match)box rooms can command £320pcm. But I don’t want to dwell on just this one issue, I’d rather look for solutions to the problems – and despite what is said, there are solutions.

New innovative solutions need to our housing problems need to be developed. The ‘brick house’ has been around for centuries, but all the while technologies, materials, products & skills have changed so much, but little has changed much in our building designs, and where new “modern” highrises have been developed, they are, to my eye at least, ugly and soul-less.  We need to look at how we can achieve the positive aspects of traditional design but through using 21st century techniques.

On the continent modular homes are a key delivery mechanism to meet housing demand, even the UK has a history of much loved pre-fabs, and it would be amiss for me to not mention at this point the Catford Prefab Museum.

The words ‘modular buildings‘ may to some conjure images of converted cargo containers, or (the now beloved) low-rise porta-cabin of the mid 20th century, or page 352 of the Argos catalogue. But lets be clear, modular buildings to me simply means off-site factory built buildings that are assembled in situ. This method of construction is faster, and uses the principles first developed by the industrialist and motor car manufacturer who coined the phrase ” you can buy a Ford in any colour as long as its black”, and creating consistency drives up quality and speed, and through constructing buildings indoor its a better environment for builders that isn’t disrupted by bad weather.

I want to see a new generation of homes of high quality, that doesn’t compromise on sustainability, design or aesthetics but are designed and build differently. Modular buildings are typically a third quicker to build, and because of this, and the use of less labour, costs are around a third cheaper than standard construction methods. We need to see bold and brave initiatives in the UK to change the construction narrative, as at the moment no solely commercial provider will bother with this as the drivers aren’t there from them and it will take a stimulus from Government (both local and national) to try and learn the skills and change the attitude of the British public so as to be more open to non-traditional construction methods.

Modular apartments designed by: Architect: Group2 Architecture Interior Design Ltd | Structural Engineers: Halsall Associates

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