A major housing association is to use offsite manufacturing on all its new-build homes from 2025 after taking advice from a consortium including three major architecture practices
L&Q, which houses about 250,000 people, primarily across London and the South East, published an ambitious modern methods of construction (MMC) strategy this week.
The organisation is working with a panel including Hawkins\Brown Architects, HTA Design and Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects, alongside engineers and contractors, on the radical plans.
First brought in to advise on the benefits of offsite technology, the panel is now developing design proposals. L&Q has committed to delivering 100,000 new homes with like-minded partners over the next decade.
Construction services director Wayne Hill – who leads the product innovation team at L&Q – said: ‘The findings of the group were very positive and helped develop an approach that can utilise the efficient benefits of MMC while retaining the flexibility of traditional construction approaches.
‘This has now formed the basis of L&Q’s phased roadmap towards fully integrated MMC build solutions. This approach to working between client, consultant and supplier is encouraging peer-to-peer learning, trust and bridging the gaps that exist in construction and design, with outputs that will contribute to improvements in the quality and volume of homes we deliver.’
The association will launch its first range of pre-built product designs, including bathroom units and balconies, in March. Later in the spring, it will build its first offsite manufactured homes outside of London.
By 2025 L&Q plans for all its new builds to feature some aspect of MMC. By 2028 it aims to place its first entirely offsite manufactured home on a site.
L&Q Group director of development Fiona Fletcher-Smith said: ‘To achieve large volumes of building, while still maintaining quality, we needed to innovate.
‘Offsite offers a world of exciting possibilities – faster build programmes and improved build quality, tackling the skills shortage and reduced project costs.
‘Some people get nervous when they hear a part of their home has been built in a factory. But it actually guarantees better quality, because these are better environments for assembling and building in than the harsh outdoor climate.’
Membership body Buildoffsite describes modern methods of construction as ‘embracing a number of approaches involving offsite manufacture or assembly’.
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council last year went to market for specialist housing suppliers for a series of modular low-cost, single-person ‘pod’ homes. Recent modular pod housing systems include Living Units by OFIS Architects with AKT II.
Full group of modular housing consultants: L&Q Product Innovation Team (Wayne Hill is third from left); Hawkins\Brown Architects; HTA Design; Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects; Ramboll; Heyne Tillet Steel; AES Sustainability Consultants