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Through it’s remarkable first implementation back in the 1830’s with the humble carpenter John Manning, Modular Construction has been a worldwide success, known for it’s incredible accessibility and sustainability. Being extremely adaptable, recyclable and designed with sustainability at the forefront.

With the process being mainly cutting the materials to laser precision in a factory and transported in huge finished units on the back of a truck, it would appear difficult to fully develop individual units with their own personal touches, perhaps contributing to the lack of modular housing developments in the UK.

[1] (steelconstruction.info 2019)

A ‘Splash’ of Inspiration

Urban Splash and their town houses have become famous for their use of modular construction, what sets these units apart from the others is the customisation options available for users. Using the Urban Splash website, users can pick from different variations of interior design for their house, which could include open plan kitchens, or the difference of having 2/4 bedrooms.

Although with that said, from the outside each house still looks identical to the other, which in places like Smith’s Dock in Newcastle, where the buildings have issues connecting to the surrounding context, makes the project seem that little more aggressive or bland. And given the price of these units, it’s easy to see why as this housing scheme isn’t seen as the answer to housing shortages in the UK.

[2] (www.urbansplash.co.uk 2020)

The Price of Life

With the UK suffering from housing problems, modular construction would seem to be the answer to the prayers of councils across the country for quick construction with the quality to back it up, as appose to the aggressive grey blocks that came from pre-fabrication in the modernist post-era, which may have gave the process a bad image.

But the current reality is that the costing of such a process, with such a small industry in the UK compared to Sweden (which 84% of homes have prefab elements), means that right now Modular housing developments may be a rarity.

[3] (www.contemporist.com 2008)

 Going Forward

However, the future is potentially bright for modular housing in the UK. With more inspiration being taken from the Swedish, Modular homes could become more common, with a 200 flat pack home scheme coming to Bristol, from the master of the flat pack IKEA.


References:

Architizer ([online] Available at: https://architizer.com/blog/inspiration/industry/swedish-modular-housing/ Accessed 14/05/2020

 

Excel Modular Buildings (2019) The history of the modular building [online] Available at; https://www.excelmodular.co.uk/the-history-of-modular-buildings/ Accessed 14/05/2020

 

Globe St., (2019) Modular Construction: Big Risks, Bigger Reward [online] Available at: https://www.globest.com/2019/11/21/modular-construction-big-risks-bigger-reward/?slreturn=20200425154626 Accessed 14/05/2020

 

Inside Housing (2019) Ikea plans 200 flatpack homes in Bristol [online] Available at: https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/news/news/ikea-plans-200-flatpack-homes-in-bristol-63569 Accessed 14/05/2020

 

Kempton, J and P. Syms. (2009). Modern methods of construction. Structural Survey. 27/1: 36–45.

 

MPH Building Systems (n.d.) Eco Friendly Modular Building [online] Available at: https://mphbuildingsystems.co.uk/modular-buildings-volumetric-construction/eco-friendly-modular-buildings/ Accessed 14/05/2020

 

Science and Technology Select Committee, 2018. Off-Site Manufacture For Construction: Building For Change. London: House of Lords, p.253.

 

Smith’s Dock. (n.d.). About Smith’s Dock | Smith’s Dock. [online] Available at: https://www.smithsdock.co.uk/about Accessed 14/05/2020

Urban Splash. (n.d.). Smith’s Dock | Urban Splash. [online] Available at: https://www.urbansplash.co.uk/regeneration/projects/smiths-dock Accessed 14/05/2020

Figure list

[1] Steel Construction (2019) Modular Construction [online] Available at: https://www.steelconstruction.info/Modular_construction Accessed 14/05/2020

[2] Urban Splash. (n.d.). Welcome to House by Urban Splash [online] Available at: https://www.housebyurbansplash.co.uk/ Accessed 14/05/2020

[3] Contemporist (2008) Prefab Homes in Sweden [online] Available at: https://www.contemporist.com/arkitekthus-prefab-homes-in-sweden/ Accessed 14/05/2020

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School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509

Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk


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