Our firm, Youmeheshe, designs people-friendly buildings using a systematic and strategic approach to construction.
Our projects develop as a response to the client's brief;through this process we have discovered the complexities of self-motivated architecture.
Software is key to the way we communicate. We now confidently use stereolithography to print physical models that, as a tool, allow us to easily scrutinise the form and construction of our designs. We enjoy the control. We would like to have this control of the construction process (more often than not the construction process controls the architects).
We investigated modular techniques for our social housing because we wanted the choice of sites to be flexible.
Repetitive modular units can be cheap; one that could be customised en masse would have greater flexibility. We provided a front door, a fire-place and a flexible space to fit people's imaginations. However, with modular construction comes a compromise: the technique limits time on site but requires transporting large volumes of air around the country. From the point of view of overall energy consumption, the balance between modular and prefab weighs in favour of a kit of parts.
Modern Methods of Construction - a BRE/NHBC initiative fronted by Nick Raynsford MP - aims to prevent the demand for housing overwhelming the supply chain, with an emphasis on output and the environmental impact.
The potential shortfall is quality. By 'quality' we mean constructing buildings that nurture the people who come into contact with them, using healthy construction materials , not only sustainably produced, but fairly traded. Standards for evaluating the production of food already exist; when will these be adopted in the construction industry?
To test these boundaries, we are using bespoke projects to enable a programme of research into housing 'products' that will be capable of mass customisation at a later stage.
Our fascination with a material system is at the heart of this research. Four current projects share a common strategy: the use of load-bearing timber panels, either as bi-axial surfaces in prefabricated or modular form, or engineered component members combined to form surfaces.