Blueprint has launched a design and delivery competition for a series of innovative custom build units at Trent Basin in Nottingham
The Igloo-Nottingham City Council joint venture is seeking six architect-led ‘home manufacturer’ teams to provide high-quality bespoke homes across the city centre regeneration site.
The project comes a year after Blueprint – which is backing the £65m Trent Basin scheme – completed a micro-pilot of seven made-to-order homes nearby.
It also comes as joint venture Carillion Igloo prepares to launch sales of 54 kit-of-parts homes (pictured) – designed by Mae, AOC, Ash Sakula and HTA – at Trevenson Park South in Pool, Cornwall.
Announcing the latest contest, Blueprint chief executive and Igloo vice chair Nick Ebbs said: ‘I have long been struck by the different approaches to housing adopted around the world and how they seem overseas to be able to offer purchasers larger homes and more choice without charging them more.
‘The alchemy lies in separating the house from the plot, selling purchasers a serviced plot where they can then fund the build themselves working with a specialist home manufacturer.’
He continued: ‘When the recession struck my colleagues and I at igloo decided to research this more deeply, visiting Holland, Germany, New Zealand and Japan.
‘We learnt that, with some adaptations, the overseas custom build housing model could deliver tens of thousands more homes each year in the UK. Given that over 50 per cent of the adult population want to design their dream home at some point in their lives the potential speaks for itself.’
Designed by local practice Marsh Grochowski – the 3.5 hectare Trent Basin project will create around 500 new homes overlooking the Lady Bay nature reserve.
Around 100 custom build dwellings are planned for various locations across the site and the winning teams will deliver an initial phase of 25 units.
Blueprint will provide standard-sized serviced plots with planning permission and will also identify customers who will select one of the home manufacturers for their preferred house type and size.
The custom build partners will develop costed and deliverable base designs for 2, 3 and 4 bedroom homes with options for customisation. The home manufacturer must also win reserved matters planning for each unit and provide a recognised warranty for all completed homes.
A shortlist of teams will be invited to participate in the design and delivery competition this summer following an expressions of interest round.
The deadline for applications is 15 July.
How to apply
Contact the contest organiser for more information
Head of Custom Build Housing
35 Dale Street
Jon Sawyer, head of custom build housing at Igloo Regeneration
Why is custom build a solution to current UK housing needs and why are brownfield sites such as Trent Basin appropriate?
One million people move house every year. RIBA research (A Case for Space 2013) found that around 75 per cent would not move to a house that is 10 years old or less – because of restricted space and limited ability to personalise the home to their needs. Most people move into an existing property and spend more money than they’ll ever recoup in value making it meet their needs. A hardy few buy a plot of land and build their own home (self-build). Reusing an existing property does not add to the new housing stock and the other two routes currently deliver a fraction of the new homes we need to keep pace with a growing population. Custom build is a new option for the UK but one that is commonplace all over the developed world. A custom build developer buys a large site, secures planning and creates serviced plots, markets the site, arranges an experienced mortgage provider and identifies customers. With igloo, the customer’s journey is very simple. They pick a plot, choose a home manufacturer (with igloo there are six to choose from on each site), select their size (much more choice is available than simply how many bedrooms – for example 3 bedrooms in a 4 bedroom volume is popular), make other customisation choices (cladding option? open plan? pitched or flat roof? sustainability upgrade?) and then watch the build. The government has been a big supporter of custom build for the last few years, offering pilot sites, debt funding and CIL exemption. Its new ‘Right to Build’ is a game changer for the industry, requiring all English local authorities to have a demand register for people that want to commission their own home (through custom build and self-build) and to provide planning permission for enough serviced plots to meet this demand. More details of the right to build are available at www.righttobuildportal.org
What sort of design and delivery teams are you hoping to work with?
We are looking for teams that have the capability to design, manufacturer and build. Distinctive architecture is a must so that customers have a clear preference of design – as well as other features of the home. As a small number of face-to-face meetings is needed the ability to build a rapport with customers and understand their needs is essential. Practice size isn’t critical for the architect but we need confidence the overall team can deliver a fixed price home on time for the customer and have the necessary financial strength to register with a warranty provider.
What other custom build sites are you looking at for the future?
We are currently exploring sites in Sunderland, Glasgow and London and have plans to roll out Custom Build across the UK. We are exploring Custom Build in both urban and sustainable suburban locations
Which other custom build manufacturers are you impressed by?
There are many overseas home manufacturers - from Holland, and further afield such as Japan - that offer strong insights for the UK market, providing distinctive and flexible designs underpinned by strong customer service. Trips to places like Ijburg and Almere in Holland give a real insight to the contrasting offer of the overseas and UK housing markets.