GLOBAL SCHEME DEMANDS CRITICAL APPRAISAL
I don't know what is more depressing; the prospect of 'a new, exemplar fiindustrialisedfl residential scheme? rolled out across the globe' or the entirely uncritical nature of the coverage of this ManuBuild project in a professional journal (AJ 27.04.06).
How, for instance, does one reconcile the idea of an 'Airbus-style pan-European collaboration' and components being transported across the continent with the idea of sustainability?
Sustainable housing and communities demand solutions that are robust, adaptable over the long term and suited to the topography and climate of the locality, as well as its culture and materials. Moreover, this initiative is apparently based on a 'closed manufacturing system', so inevitably it will limit the involvement of local suppliers and contractors.
Substitute Wal-Mart for Corus and you will get my point.
In fact we already have a competitive Europe-wide construction market, with open systems, covering practically all elements of house building: windows, framing, cladding, sanitaryware, plumbing etc.
It is the scarcity of land and the cost of infrastructure, not the economies of construction, that drive the price of housing, and it is the time taken to get planning consents and not the technology that often determines the speed of delivery.
Surely the issues are about increasing and renewing our existing housing stock, making the best use of land resources and the existing infrastructure.
They are about providing adaptable and energy-efficient homes for the future and not about industrialised housing with designer labels.
This subject deserves more serious coverage than the AJ, with its obsession with personality and fashion, seems able to provide. At the very least it might remind its readers of the results of the last attempt at European collaboration on industrialised housing: Ronan Point.
John Waldron, Bristol