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Rogers ready for Ikea revolution

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Stanhope director Peter Rogers has predicted that government demands for low-cost housing will revolutionise the way architects work.

The developer intends to use more off-site manufacturing in a bid to cut both the cost and time of building throughout its Stratford City scheme in east London.

It is these new methods that Rogers believes will result in architects having to work more closely with 'craftsmen'.

'Logistically we have looked at the industry's efficiency and waste and we want to turn the building site into a manufacturing site as much as possible, ' he said.

'The more you can build in the factory, the better, and we have pinched elements from the car industry.

I call it the 'Ikea approach' to construction. It's all about not having too much on site and prefabricating in modules.' As the brother of Richard Rogers, Peter is well aware that these processes could transform the role of the architect. 'It will bring architects back to how they used to work, by developing very close links with the craftsmen who are manufacturing off-site.

'The biggest immediate impact will be the joints in the building, because finding clever ways to disguise them is an obvious issue.' Rogers is also chairman of the Strategic Forum for Construction and is conscious of the pressure from deputy prime minister John Prescott to build thousands of affordable homes.

When Stanhope announced last year that it could build almost 5,000 houses 25 per cent cheaper than other developers, the sceptics scoffed.

But its £3.5 billion scheme in Stratford has now been given the go-ahead by London mayor Ken Livingstone (AJ 7.10.04) and Rogers is confident its methods will ensure promises are kept.

'We have got to find a way to build simple, affordable houses. Some of these targets are achievable but controlling the costs is becoming more and more important.

'We know that we have taken jobs away that have been traditionally priced. There have been some interesting situations where we have taken millions and months off projects, ' he added.

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