19/50 | Design for Manufacture
A government initiative supporting innovation and encouraging affordability in new housing presented the challenge of efficiently building a quality sustainable home for £60K. On each of the 10 sites across the country 30% of the homes proposed had to be competition homes. The aim was to create a platform to demonstrate and test emerging innovation in the construction industry and HTA was enthusiastic for the opportunity to apply recent experience and develop its ideas further. A collaborative approach was encouraged supporting the findings of the Latham and Egan reports by requesting entries by consortia of Architects, Contractors and Manufacturers to demonstrate how they would work collaboratively. Quality would be assessed by achieving Eco Homes Very Good, Building for Life Silver, use of the principles in the Urban Design Compendium, the reduction of accidents, waste and defects, Lifetime Homes and effective supply chain management. It was also important to demonstrate that the approach could be replicated.
Following a 3-stage tender 6 consortia were selected. HTA formed part of a design team with Barratt Developments taking on two sites: Allerton Bywater near Leeds and Upton Site D in Northampton. The Upton site formed part of a larger urban extension previously granted Outline consent with a Design Code specifying Eco Homes Excellent in excess of the DfM target. Of the 165 units completed 50 were £60k homes variously using a light gauge steel frame system, timber frame and thin-joint blocks. At Allerton Bywater 46 of the 151 units were £60k homes comprising 3 generations of house design each incorporating more manufactured elements and innovative spaces than the last. The houses also responded to their context in their scale and their external appearance through brick colour and use of the local limestone.
Use of non-traditional construction was not encouraged but all the competition homes used MMC indicating the widespread understanding of their benefits already in the industry. Monitoring during construction assessed the effectiveness of the different approaches taken. It was found on all the sites that more time spent on the design stages avoided later site difficulties, which is again being proven as off-site manufacture becomes more widespread, Virtual prototyping through 3D modelling during design addressed issues before they emerged on site, and early engagement with mortgage providers and insurers as well as Planning authorities and communities improved outcomes.
Keeping the team together throughout the project fostered positive working relationships that improved efficiency and the relationships HTA built during the project enabled success with even more innovative housing in the years that followed. From the launch of the competition in 2005 the first homes were occupied in 2008.