Offsite Magazine - Issue 26 (November/December 2020)

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WELLINGBOROUGH PRISON A multi-award winning precast concrete project and possible template for future custodial design


DEVELOPING A PIPELINE Magna Housing and Rollalong on client commitment, reliable manufacturing and project certainty


BOKLOK We speak to Graeme Culliton about bringing Swedish style and sustainability to the UK housing market


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FRONT COVER Aedas Homes PRINTED ON: PEFC 16-33-576 paper stock by Buxton Press PUBLISHER:

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Welcome to the last edition of Offsite Magazine of 2020. It has been a difficult year for everyone but the offsite sector has shown itself able to cope and actively contribute to some of the specific challenges the pandemic has thrown up. The year has ended with more political talk of boosting the built environment with the Labour Party's pledge to ‘Build it in Britain’, calling for government to expand energy efficiency and retrofit programmes. Also, in keeping with the topsy turvy political climate we had the infamous ‘mutant algorithm’. In Government trying to determine where new homes should be built, it modelled a huge increase in construction in rural areas and southern cities of England, while actually reducing the amount of development in the North. The Local Government Association said the planned changes to housing targets would “seriously jeopardise” Boris Johnson’s aim of “levelling up” economic activity in disadvantaged areas of the country. Offsite homes offer many answers. As such, there is a lot to digest in this issue – especially surrounding volumetric housing. In the absence of physical events, the October Modular Matters conference was held online and was

Across this issue there are a few of the winning entries from the Offsite Awards 2020. Special mention must go to the multi-award winning scheme at Wellingborough Prison, that picked up the coveted Winner of Winners honour for its use of precast concrete and producing a potential template for many custodial designs of the future. Finally as we went to press, the UK was still facing the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. The only certainty is that on 1 January 2021 the way the UK does business with the EU will change forever – good or bad – so hopefully everyone is prepared for inevitable frustrations. Thanks to all our contributors, advertisers and supporters, let’s hope 2021 will be a healthier one for us all. Keep well.

Gary Ramsay

Consultant Editor Email:


KEEP IN TOUCH: @ExploreOffsite offsitehub

swiftly followed by a virtual roundtable discussing several issues surrounding productivity and quality improvements. Steve Chivers, from Rollalong and Paul Read from Magna Housing, have many positive things to say about the importance of collaborative partnerships. Plus I spoke to Graeme Culliton about how BoKlok UK is set to offer technologically advanced and sustainable volumetric timber homes with the help of TopHat.


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34 | Dispelling MMC Myths The benefits of MMC housing are evident for the public sector, so why has take-up been so slow? Barriers to entry, from cost to standardisation need to be eradicated, says John Skivington, Group Director at LHC.






AEDAS Homes one of Spain’s leading listed homebuilders, has completed construction on Merian Gardens an €11.4million (£10.2million) modular development near Madrid. This is the final phase of the company’s 54-unit, three-phase Merian development, which is the first large-scale modular development in Spain.

Picking up multiple awards at the Offsite Awards 2020 and the coveted Winner of Winners honour, the newbuild resettlement prison in Wellingborough is an exemplar for integration, collaborative working and successful offsite methodology that could prove a template for future custodial design.







36 | The Volume Dealers Following on from the Modular Matters conference and exhibition in October, a virtual roundtable focused on volumetric modular technology and the potential opportunities and challenges for the residential sector. 44 | Exceptional and Seamless Construction Fusion’s ‘Product rather than Project’ thinking helped deliver the University of Sussex East Slopes Residences project: one of the most successful offsite construction projects of its kind in the UK. 46 | Providing a Better Hospital Estate The McAvoy Group used offsite methods to deliver a £15million contract for the construction of a new wing at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, with the three-storey building having to integrate seamlessly with the existing hospital. 48 | Driving Sustainability Hewitt Studios repurposed a collection of ageing post-war buildings as a sustainable new visitor Experience Centre for the iconic Morgan Motor Company in Malvern, England.

Two companies have been working together to develop a cluster of clients to create a strong enough pipeline of demand for modular housing to make the offsite approach cost-effective. Steve Chivers, Managing Director at Rollalong and Paul Read, Head of Development and Sales at Magna Housing, explain more.

Although BoKlok may be an unfamiliar brand name in the UK, its joint owners Skanska and IKEA are familiar faces to most of us. As Graeme Culliton, BoKlok Managing Director and Country Manager told us, things are about to change in 2021 with several schemes in the pipeline.

54 | Learning Curves at Dreadnought B&K Structures used engineered timber to help transform a former naval hospital in a UNESCO World Heritage Site into the Dreadnought Building at the University of Greenwich.



08 | Industry News

26 | Build Homes, Build Jobs, Build Innovation

56 | Net Zero Living Targets We must harness the power of offsite to build back better, says Mark Davis, Acting Head of Partnerships and Communications at Public Sector Plc, if modular homes are to increase the quantity and quality of new homes and help to save the planet.

News and developments from across the UK offsite industry and wider construction arena including: Swan/NU living acquires second factory, NG Bailey completes M&E installation at the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, Merit launch a new healthcare division and ilke Homes help regenerate a Nottinghamshire brownfield site.

Cast CEO, Mark Farmer and HTA Architects partner, Mike De’Ath’s report offered up a ‘blueprint for a housing led industrial strategy’ explaining how modular construction could deliver 75,000 homes a year across the UK.

60 | Precast Frame for Kingston Kingston University Town house is a stunning six storey mixed-use teaching building that offers a vibrant new face to the University and is formed with a structural precast concrete frame.

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AEDAS Homes, one of Spain’s leading listed homebuilders, has completed construction on Merian Gardens, an €11.4million (£10.2million) modular development near Madrid. This is the final phase of the company’s 54-unit, three-phase Merian development, which is the first large-scale modular development in Spain.

1 Designed in collaboration with noted Spanish firm Ortiz León Architects, the upscale development of 26 contemporary terraced homes features a swimming pool, landscaped common areas and a playground, and adheres to strict energy-efficiency specifications, achieving an ‘A’ rating. The 156 precast concrete modules that comprise Merian Gardens were produced and fully fitted out at the purpose-built facility of a leading modular manufacturer located south of Madrid. Setting of the first modules started in December 2019, giving the development a total build and


installation time of six months. This represents a 20% improvement over the first two phases. All units in Merian I and II have been fully delivered to customers. “It is satisfying to see the first largescale residential modular development in Spain now complete and ready to start handing over to customers,” said María Jiménez, Development Manager for Merian Gardens. “All three phases have been a success, which we put down to two main factors: our company’s exacting standards for design and execution, and a growing appetite for high-quality, factory-built homes in Spain.

“In fact, the interest in high-end modular homes has actually been accelerated by the pandemic. Customers have started looking for larger, single-family homes with a garden and a flexible layout to be able to work from home. But they don’t want to wait 18 to 22 months to move in – they want to move now. That has made Merian Gardens an extremely attractive option and led to a spike in interest during the pandemic because they knew they’d be able to move into their new home in the next couple of months – not in a year or two. So the layout and the fact that the development would be ready quickly




2 has been a deciding factor for many customers, making Merian Gardens a perfect match for their needs now and in the future.” Homes in Merian Gardens start at €438,000 (£393,000). Each fourbedroom, three-bathroom house in Merian Gardens is comprised of six modules and is a spacious 211 square metres (2,2171 square feet), laid out over three levels. While some customers choose to keep the fourbedroom layout, many who purchased during the pandemic have opted for the three-bedroom plus home office option, keeping in mind how teleworking has reshaped our working lives over the past nine months. Like the other homes in the Merian development, Merian Gardens has open-plan living spaces designed for comfort and functionality, with the needs of modern families in mind and features high quality, minimalist finishes that appeal to discerning customers. The same minimalist design ethos is carried over to the exterior, with architectural concrete facades that were designed by the manufacturer, who has many years of experience working with this material. All other elements in the modules have been optimised for quality, durability, and ease of manufacture, in order to reduce the cost materials and labour.

From start to finish, the total build time per house is six weeks, two weeks faster than in the previous phases of the development.

“In the past two years, we have gone from zero to over 100 highquality homes built offsite and installed on-site, with a combined GDV of over €45million,” adds Luis Garcia Malo de Molina, Director of Operations for AEDAS Homes. “The company has made a significant investment in terms of financial resources and growing our team, because we see offsite construction as a fundamental way to reshape the construction industry in Spain – getting a higher quality product into the hands of our customers faster.” “This has also had a positive impact on the rest of our developments under construction. In addition to our modular developments, which still account for only a small number of our total annual deliveries, we are also now incorporating significantly more high-quality, prefabricated elements in our buildings, including industrialised facades and bathroom pods. By incorporating these components into our developments, we are looking at

4 considerable time savings, which is great for our customers, and limiting the impact of construction cost inflation, which is great for our bottom line. And finally, by signing strategic agreements with local Spanish providers, we are investing in our local economies by boosting the offsite industry here in Spain, which, in the medium-term, we expect to really pay off.” AEDAS Homes is the first major Spanish homebuilder to launch largescale, modular developments in Spain, and since starting its offsite line in 2018, has made significant investments to help grow the nascent industry on the Iberian Peninsula. The developer currently has close to 4,200 units under construction in the five major regions where it operates: Madrid; Catalonia; Mallorca, Valencia and Alicante; Malaga and Costa del Sol and Andalusia. The company plans to deliver over 4,000 units over the next two years. For more information visit:

Images: 01-04. Each four-bedroom, three-bathroom house in Merian Gardens is comprised of six modules and produced and fully-fitted out at the purpose-built facility located south of Madrid



UK INDUSTRY NEWS Beard Develops Strategic Partnership with Green Unit Construction firm Beard has entered into a strategic partnership with Green Unit Limited, in order to help boost production of modular low-carbon buildings. The move is part of Beard’s ambition to be more sustainable and to actively drive sustainable alternatives in the construction industry. Beard had been studying opportunities to join forces with a sustainable and eco-friendly business, focused on offsite construction. The partnership enhances Green Unit’s ability to provide its customers with premium quality, modular, eco-buildings for commercial, community and residential use. It will enable Green Unit to expand demand across a variety of sectors, such as healthcare, education and leisure. As the UK heads into a winter set to be dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, Green Unit will continue to provide its distinctive modular units to the NHS for various uses such as staff respite and patient care areas. Green Unit was co-founded in 2012 by Jonathan Finnerty, to develop distinctive eco-buildings, which are design-focused and based on Passivhaus principles to create a sense of peace and relaxation for users. As well as being environmentally-friendly they are built with low embodied carbon and high operational performance due to their levels of insulation and airtightness. The buildings are manufactured offsite in sections, transported by road and delivered to site virtually complete. The investment from Beard will enable Green Unit to relocate its operations

Modular for Nottinghamshire Brownfield Site

to a 21,000m² factory at Lockwood Farm, near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, which will significantly increase its production capacity. While Green Unit Limited remains an independent company, Beard’s Chad Murrin will sit on the board of Green Unit as part of this partnership. Beard chairman Mark Beard said: “Methods of construction are changing and as a business we want to move further towards sustainability. Offsite and modular construction methods are being increasingly used in our industry and there are some key learnings we can take from this for the wider construction sector. These techniques can significantly improve quality, reduce construction time and lessen dependence on site works. “We have been looking for some time for a long-term partner with this expertise and in Green Unit we feel that we have found a perfect match. We can support its ongoing growth and development while at the same time we can further increase our own

ilke Homes is set to deliver up to 140 homes in Nottinghamshire after being selected by Nottinghamshire County Council to regenerate a brownfield site. The deal, which followed a competitive tender process, will see the redevelopment of the nine-acre site in Rolleston Drive in Arnold. The former depot was derelict for six years before being destroyed by fire in 2017. Innes England advised Nottinghamshire County Council acting as its agent. The scheme is ilke Homes’ third in Nottinghamshire. In July, ilke Homes signed a deal with Network Rail to build 40 homes in Beeston. In February, ilke Homes delivered nine zero-carbon homes in Newark for SME developer, Positive Homes. The homes will be manufactured at ilke Homes’ factory in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, before being delivered to Rolleston Drive. This marks the first time that Nottinghamshire County Council has released land for a factory-built housing development. The local authority announced last year it was supporting major infrastructure and capital projects costing over £200million to help boost prosperity for its residents and the local economy. It has secured an £11million grant from Homes


knowledge of sustainable methods of construction. It is important for Beard to transfer knowledge about modular construction methods into our core business and in due course have a modular offering for our customers.” Green Unit Managing Director Jonathan Finnerty added: “The development of this new partnership is a key moment for Green Unit as a business, as it enables us to significantly expand our production capability. Beard has an excellent quality, environmental and ethical reputation and a large customer base, notably in the education sector. Beard has grown significantly in recent years and is well-placed to assist and support our young company as we grow. We look forward to working together to develop a new, unique, modular building product which can be offered to Beard’s customers.” Source:

England to prepare eight redundant sites that it owns for housing development to meet the growing demand in the county. Tom Heathcote, Executive Director of development at ilke Homes, said: “We’re delighted to have been selected by Nottingham County Council to unlock this important brownfield site. Our housing technology means we can quickly deliver a high-quality scheme that brings this derelict site back into productive use and deliver much needed, sustainable family homes for the local community.” Councillor Kay Cutts, Leader of Nottingham County Council, said: “We selected Ilke Homes as the purchaser for this site after receiving many bids from different housebuilders and developers during the tender process. The re-use of this site for housing will be a huge benefit to the community and ilke Homes already appear to be making progress with their planning application. The sale will realise a notable capital receipt for Nottinghamshire County Council.” Source:


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UK INDUSTRY NEWS New Home Registrations Gain Momentum After Lockdown Slump

The number of new homes registered to be built by the UK’s housebuilders in the first three quarters of 2020 is down by 30% on the same period last year, according to figures released by NHBC. In the year to date (January to September 2020), 83,359 homes were registered to be built compared to 119,476 in the same period last year. The biggest impact was seen in the second quarter of 2020 which saw registration levels halve compared to the second quarter of 2019, decreasing from 42,580 to 20,102, as housebuilders felt the full force of lockdown restrictions in the spring. There were encouraging signs in the third quarter, as builders returned to site and quite quickly got used to COVID-secure working practices. New home completions recovered significantly with 33,440 in the third quarter, just 4% below the same period last year, with this reflecting the strong sales demand that has persisted for newbuild homes. There were encouraging signs on new home registrations too, notably in September, but at 29,587 they were down by 25% compared to third quarter 2019. While the third quarter saw falls in registration numbers across several of the UK regions, the North

West & Merseyside experienced a 15% increase and London was level with the same period last year with 5,111 registrations in the quarter. Commenting on the latest statistics, NHBC Chief Executive Steve Wood said: “The COVID-19 pandemic delivered a sharp shock to the housing market in the second quarter of 2020, when work on site was halted and new home registrations fell to historically low levels. It is encouraging that by early summer housebuilders established COVID-secure operating practices and had moved closer to prelockdown productivity levels by the third quarter. Housebuilders are facing an unprecedented set of challenges and whilst sales demand has been strong in recent months, there is significant economic uncertainty going into 2021, as the full impact of the pandemic plays out and the UK exits the European Union. Despite these headwinds, the housebuilding industry is adaptable and resilient and the fundamental factors affecting supply and demand point to gradual recovery over the medium term.” Source:

NG Bailey Completes M&E Installation At UK’s First Battery Industrialisation Centre NG Bailey has completed a fast-paced installation of mechanical and electrical services installation at the UK’s prestigious and pioneering new battery development facility, the £130million UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC). Acting as principal contractor, NG Bailey completed the £14.6million installation in just eight months. With commissioning and handover of the Coventrybased facility now complete, NG Bailey has been retained as principal contractor to support UKBIC during the ongoing installation phase of the facility’s specialist equipment. The publicly-funded facility, which combines manufacturing, experimentation and innovation, covers the whole production process from electrodes to cell, module and pack assembly. Its clients span a wide range of sectors, including electric vehicles, rail, aerospace, industrial and domestic equipment and static energy storage. The majority of mechanical and electrical equipment – including more than 6km of pipework and 140 heavy duty service modules – was manufactured at NG Bailey’s specialist offsite manufacture facility in Bradford. Other solutions delivered using offsite construction techniques include production of horizontal multi-service modules which enabled rapid installation and innovative space-saving solutions including a multi-service bridge structure which reduced the amount of space needed to house essential services and maximised useful production areas.


Duncan Smith, NG Bailey’s Operations Director, Midlands explained: “By being involved in the early stages of the project we were able to develop bespoke solutions for rapid delivery. It only took six weeks from developing the initial concept to delivering the first module to site. By using our offsite manufacture and building information modelling (BIM) expertise, we were also able to deliver other tangible benefits for our clients, in particularly positioning our services to sit above the facility’s own plant and equipment. This approach also dramatically reduced the time needed to deliver the project by shifting more than 17,500 hours of work away from site – it also creates safer working environments and reduces on-site congestion.”

The £130million UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) is a pioneering concept in the race to develop battery technology for the transition to a greener future. The unique facility based in Coventry, provides the missing link between battery technology, which has proved promising at laboratory or prototype scale, and successful mass production. Jeff Pratt, Managing Director of UKBIC, added: “We’re delighted with the progress made on the facility, and look forward to UKBIC being operational, a milestone we’re all looking forward to achieving. Once complete, our facility will be accessed by any organisation with existing or new battery technology – if that technology will bring green jobs and prosperity to the UK.” Source:


Guidance from The Concrete Centre Concrete is inherently suited to all buildings, including tall construction, with the many benefits that concrete can provide including fire resistance, thermal mass, acoustic separation and robustness. These benefits assist with the construction of buildings that are safe, cost-effective and easy to maintain or accept change-of-use. The Concrete Centre provides published guidance, webinars, seminars, courses, online resources and industry research to the design community. For more information on how The Concrete Centre can help you achieve the aims of your project visit

Download these titles and more from @concretecentre Image: 24-25 storey towers at Hoola development, London. Š Jack Hobhouse

UK INDUSTRY NEWS Roofspace Solutions’ i-House Helps Lovell Build Better

Roofspace Solutions’ innovative offsite manufacturing product i-HouseTM – which guarantees a waterproof dwelling in five days – is being implemented in a Lovell Homes site in Norwich. The result is a 35% timesaving compared to traditional building methods. Leading partnerships housing expert, Lovell Homes, prides itself on transforming communities across the UK. As part of its commitment to innovative residential construction and regeneration projects, it chose to embrace i-HouseTM technology during the building of its latest development. Crown Meadows in Norwich comprises two, threeand four-bedroom homes. Construction began in June 2020 and is planned to complete in two years – or possibly sooner as Roofspace Solutions’ i-House can create a watertight standard house shell in under a week, while combining quality, speed and safety. In addition to speed, Lovell Homes specified i-House in 15 of the 69 Crown Meadows plots as part of its aim to reduce waste and dust, while also minimising the risk of accidents. The i-House uses a bigger and lighter variant of the aircrete block, which are lifted by crane and assembled in a similar sequence to a timber frame build. This results in a much faster construction process than a traditional build. Intended for domestic property construction of up to three storeys, i-House consists of inner leaves of external cavity walls, separating walls, floors, lintels, cavity closures, insulation and roof trusses, with the inclusion of soffit and fascia for the internal skin of the property. Roofspace Solutions is working alongside supplier H+H to design and produce the large-scale Celcon Elements, which are manufactured from the same material as the aircrete blocks. This gives them the same advantages, such as outstanding thermal


performance and reduced heat loss at thermal bridges. Crucially, as the homes are watertight in under a week, it has increased Lovell Homes’ construction programme, allowing internal trades to begin their work sooner than with a traditional build. With the additional consideration of building during the time of COVID-19, the offsite solution enhance Lovell Homes’ stringent social distancing protocols. At the Crown Meadows site, approximately four builders will be able to build six houses in four weeks, with i-House increasing the output per person. Paul Terry, Managing Director of Roofspace Solutions, said: “The construction industry is facing many challenges. The only way we will be able to ‘build back better’ and meet government and industry targets for housebuilding is by working together and embracing new technologies. The Crown Meadows development is coming along well, and we’re glad that Lovell Homes is already experiencing the time-saving benefits from i-House and Celcon Elements. We’re enjoying working on this project with a developer who has such high standards and look forward to seeing the site completed.” Chris Gray, Senior Construction Site Manager at Lovell Homes, said: “I believe Crown Meadows will be a much quicker build, from start to finish. Of course, it’s difficult to compare like-for-like, but recently a plot went from being a concrete pad to us laying the roof tiles within two weeks – everything fits like a Lego set. Based on the success so far, it’s now our ambition to bring in the development a few months ahead of schedule. For the construction industry, it’s another tool to help us get the job done well and meet the demand for housing.”

New Modular Homes for Barking & Dagenham

New factory-made homes have been delivered to Barking and Dagenham as part of a project to house local homeless people. The 20 two-bedroom modular homes will be finished off by Jerram Falkus, at a former garage site in Wivenhoe Road, Barking and are set to be completed in 30 weeks. Cllr Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership and Engagement (pictured), who visited the site said: “These new homes will be for local families who are on our council waiting list and are yet to be given a permanent home, so they can still remain in the borough and close to family and friends. By using the latest modular technology we can build at pace so we can put a roof over their heads more quickly.” Cllr Cameron Geddes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Social Housing added: “The housing situation is not getting any easier in these current times and now more than ever it’s so important we deliver quality housing more quickly to house local families.” Martin Andvik, Construction Manager at Be First, said: “The use of modern modular construction has allowed for these new homes to be built and delivered in record time, matching the council’s ambition to provide homes for people in need.” Peter Bowtell, Jerram Falkus’ Construction Director also said: “It is great to see the delivery of the first units at Wivenhoe Road, our second modular housing project for Be First and Barking and Dagenham. By using offsite construction we are able to deliver these new homes faster and more efficiently to the client, on what would be a challenging site to develop using standard construction methods.” The development is due to be completed in February 2021. Source:



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UK INDUSTRY NEWS New Appointment at Reds10 to Drive Growth

Reds10 has appointed Phillip Cartwright as a Non-Executive Director of Reds10 (UK) Limited and Reds10 Space as a Service Limited to support growth across both businesses. Reds10 provides clients with a full turnkey service for modular buildings. The newly launched space-as-a-service offer will provide customers with high performance, low carbon, SMART buildings on flexible ownership terms. Using offsite construction, cradle-to-cradle design and the latest technology, it will design, finance, build and fit-out healthcare, education, workplace and accommodation spaces. It will also use building and organisational performance data to optimise customer experience, building use, operation, energy consumption and maintenance. Phillip Cartwright (pictured) will help drive growth for Reds10. He was previously Director of Engineering Excellence Group at Laing O’Rourke and Global Head of Electrical Power and Control Systems at Rolls-Royce. Most recently, he was Executive Chairman for The Centre for Modelling and Simulation, the successful digital technology joint venture company between Airbus and Rolls-Royce. He is currently a board adviser for innovation at MACE and developed, designed and delivered significant energy and transport related safety critical systems with ABB, ALSTOM, AREVA, GE and Rolls-Royce across the globe.

Phillip said: “The built environment, during its lifecycle, currently impacts the UK economy to the tune of approximately £808billion, around 43% of GDP. Despite these huge numbers and huge advances in the application of information and technology, the way existing infrastructure is operated and exploited has changed very little over the past decades. I am honoured and delighted to be joining a company that wants to change all that. Reds10 is an inspirational team, delivering innovative financing, excellent designs, high performing buildings and low carbon services in a truly unique approach.” Paul Ruddick, CEO of Reds10, added: “Technology and data are key enablers in the space-as-a-service model, which is why we have appointed Phill to our board. With over 35-years of experience in engineering, which has led to innovation in both the construction and automotive industries, there is much to learn. He shares our passion to drive the industry forward and equip society to live, learn and thrive in amazing and highly efficient spaces. We welcome his no-nonsense and personal approach to the investment in and use of technology to help drive our growth.” Source:

Beattie Passive Expands Facility Leading Passivhaus design and construction company Beattie Passive has successfully expanded into a significantly larger facility to ramp up production of their signature Passivhaus standard modular homes for clients across the UK, creating 80+ new jobs in the process. Established in 2010, Beattie Passive was the first company in the UK to be awarded Passivhaus certification for a complete build system. To support this expansion, 50 new jobs have so far been created at a variety of levels, from apprentices to skilled carpenters and factory management and support roles. Work began immediately on the first wave of 150+ modular pods for multiple clients throughout the UK with many of these going to clients in Wales. The company will be looking to hire another 30-50 people throughout the remainder of 2020 as they increase production. Beattie Passive are passionate about skills development and training: therefore all employees undergo a rigorous training programme to build the necessary skills to deliver Passivhaus standard housing. Beattie Passive are not only providing a positive impact on the local community through significant employment but are also sourcing materials and sub-contract suppliers for the modular homes from local supply chains wherever possible. This combined is leading to positive economic and social benefits for the local community.


The factory will manufacture Beattie Passive’s Haus4 range from Haus4Studio’s, Haus4one and Haus4two through to one, two and three-bedroom volumetric apartments. The Haus4 range offers modular, relocatable homes that can meet the clients immediate housing requirements, whilst delivering both the exceptional performance of Passivhaus and the higher quality of a Beattie Passive build. Beattie Passive have seen a considerable increase in demand for their Haus4 range since the outbreak of COVID-19, due to the increasing pressure on Housing Association and councils to find housing solutions for the growing homelessness population. Managing Director, Ron Beattie said: “Following considerable time and investment in R&D we are delighted to have moved to a larger facility to start delivering our modular solution at scale. This is the first

of a number of large scale Beattie Passive factories across the UK and we are excited for the opportunity to not only deliver high quality Passivhaus standard housing at scale but also for the employment, training and positive economic and social benefits this will bring to the local areas.” Cardiff Council Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, Cllr Lynda Thorne, added: “Beattie Passive’s modular solutions provide a fast and effective response for our plans, including provision for a potential increase in family homelessness. The flexibility of this fully demountable system means they can be moved elsewhere in the future if required, enabling us to respond to changing housing need over time.” Source:


UK INDUSTRY NEWS Modern Prefabricated Extension for Iconic Home of vaulted ceilings. This led to the design of three structural steel frames and in turn, three individual modular pods which were manufactured offsite, and then assembled on-site to form a singular extension. “A modular system might not be the first solution that comes to mind for an extension to a listed property,” said Alessandro Maccioni from Expedition Engineering. “However, the bespoke system that we developed with Weber Industries and the rest of the design team ensured the highest quality of finish and limited significant site works to a single day.” The evolution of the design enabled the pods to be constructed offsite and arrive largely complete, with insulation, cladding, roofing, dry lining, building services and fixed joinery assembled within the workshop. The remote development of the modules provided opportunity for regular inspection and sign-off of details, both in terms of aesthetics and construction methodology, reducing the need for onsite adjustment.

64 Old Church Street is a Grade II* listed residence, designed by Erich Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff in 1936. It has been a home and focus for the family of its current owner for more than 40 years. During this time, the building has demonstrated its flexibility, adapting to accommodate the changing circumstances and needs of its occupants through a series of sensitive adjustments to the internal configuration of space that retain the essential spirit and character of the building. In 1992, Sir Norman Foster and Partners were commissioned to design a new conservatory at the south end of the building, sympathetic in nature but clearly defined as a contemporary addition. A new prefabricated extension at the north end of the building on the first floor provides self-contained living accommodation, with the conception of offsite

The installation of the pods was meticulously planned over several months, including the commissioning of a point cloud survey which would serve to assist the extension’s integration with the listed building fabric. An independent structural frame spanning between the garage wall and the existing house provides the platform upon which the pods sit, meaning all preparatory work could be completed in advance without major disruption.

fabrication designed to minimise disruption to the existing house and its occupants. It also enables the existing house to be reinstated to its original state in the future if desired. The new intervention complements the existing building by following the tripartite vertical division and proportions of the glazing, whilst carefully maintaining the building’s asymmetry and clear segregation between old and new. Internally, careful research into the materials used and the replication of key details ensures that the space is a seamless continuation of the original house.

The three units were delivered to site and lifted by crane over an eight-hour period, before being bolted into position and sealed to each other and the existing house, creating a watertight perimeter. James Ewen from Apt said: “64 Old Church Street is a wonderful example of how offsite construction techniques can be utilised to create a sensitive addition to a muchadmired heritage building, retaining the building’s character whilst also ensuring that it is suitable for modern day living.”

Working with structural engineers Expedition Engineering and fabricators Weber Industries, Apt designed the open plan space to have three distinct zones: kitchen, dining, and living, under a series









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UK INDUSTRY NEWS Swan/NU living Acquires Second Factory Swan/NU living has announced the acquisition of a 15-year lease of Basildon 117, a newly built 116,841sq ft industrial unit, opposite their existing modular housing factory in Basildon, Essex. Unit 117, which was developed by Panattoni, will be used by Swan, through its NU living development subsidiary, to manufacture light gauge steel modular housing and will operate alongside Swan's existing cross laminated timber (CLT) volumetric system delivered in its current factory. This expanded capacity will not only allow Swan to build high quality modular homes for its own secured development pipeline but also will position NU living, in time, to provide additional capacity to support Swan's partners and other stakeholders in meeting the growing expectation from Government for a proportion of modular housing to be incorporated in their own programmes. With both factories in full operation, NU living will eventually be capable of delivering over 1,000 modular homes each year. Geoff Pearce, Swan's Deputy Chief Executive commented: “The acquisition of our second factory is a key strategic move, which will give us

the additional capacity to build at height using a steel framed approach and to increase the use of pre-manufacturing and componentisation which will deliver more high quality homes, more quickly.

through the Affordable Homes Programme 2021-26 include at least 25% offsite manufacture and, in time, will enable us to support our partners to meet their modular delivery targets also.”

“We were early adopters of this way of working and we have worked hard since 2017 to realise the opportunities and benefits that modular construction can bring. We are confident that, in line with our corporate strategy aims, this expansion will help us deliver the majority of our future developments using precision engineered, low carbon homes. Factory 2 makes us well placed to support the Government's growing focus on MMC – including the recent announcement that development programmes funded

The second NU living factory is expected, by the time it is in full production, to create over 120 additional jobs in Essex and will see further significant investment by Swan in training and skills at a time when local investment in retraining and new local opportunities is critical to the businesses wider response to COVID-19. It is expected that Swan's second factory will commence production in Spring 2021.

technologies and shorter supply chains, significantly accelerates the construction process. Merit’s breadth of technological expertise in cleanroom and high containment laboratory construction has also been applied to address issues with circulation of infections in hospitals. This is even more important given the COVID-19 pandemic and the expected emergence of other communicable diseases in the future.

“The government is only going to deliver its ambitious building programme if companies like Merit enter the fold and show how it can be done. This will also be a critical element towards achieving the NHS’ net Zero Carbon commitment which was announced last week. Our individual hospital bay ventilation and extraction technology also means no cross contamination, which is critical as the NHS continues to deal with COVID-19 as well as future potential pandemics,”


Merit Launches Health Division Merit has launched Merit Health, a new healthcare division focused on building hospitals faster, more cost-effectively and sustainably while also deploying enhanced infection control which can make wards COVID-19 safe. Merit Health will use the company’s unique offsite manufacturing technology to significantly reduce long-established building construction timelines, without compromising quality. This approach will be critical in supporting the Government’s pledge to build 40 new hospitals. The North East-based company has already completed a number of projects within the health and life sciences sector, including expansion of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult manufacturing centre in Stevenage. In addition, it is currently working on the ongoing construction of a state-of-the art healthcare sterilisation facility for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Merit Health will focus on accelerating projects of this kind to meet the demand for flexible, safe, and sustainable healthcare sites. A typical acute facility takes 3-4 years to build, from inception to handover, whilst Merit’s offsite approach can deliver projects in half the time. With 75-90% of the building manufactured at the 270,000sq ft Merit factory near Newcastle, a combination of Merit standard designs, offsite


Tony Wells, Managing Director at Merit, said: “The NHS will undergo a major upgrade of its estates, including the 40 hospitals programme and it is great the Government has recognised the benefits of standardisation and the need to utilise modern methods of construction. With the innovative methods Merit employs, this can be done quicker, at lower cost, and with higher standards of infection control and zero carbon emissions.”

Building on the company’s long-standing expertise, Merit Health’s offering also ideally suits the needs of facilities requiring superior infection control and containment, such as vaccine manufacture and advanced therapy units. Source:


UK INDUSTRY NEWS Taylor Lane Completes Landmark Somerset Development Robin Squire, Regional Managing Director of Acorn’s Bristol Region said: “Where possible, Acorn strive to use timber frame across all our developments. We are aware of the environmental impact our industry has and try to design and build our schemes with sustainability very much at the forefront of our minds in order to limit this impact. We take a fabric-first approach to our developments meaning we look to ensure the envelope of the building is as energy efficient as possible by opting for methods like timber frame construction.” Due to the demands and design complexity of Cubis Bruton, it is highly unlikely that this scheme could be achieved using traditional masonry construction. The Hereford-based timber frame specialist also supplied and installed Posi-Joists, roof trusses, and structural and architectural steel. The complete package was designed and manufactured in-house. The Taylor Lane 140mm pre-insulated timber frame plus a continuous layer of 50mm insulation on the inside face achieves an exceptional U-value of 0.15W/m2K. The added continuous layer prevents cold bridging and improves the U-value enormously. This level of thermal performance could not be achieved with masonry construction without a negative impact on room size and build costs.

Taylor Lane Timber Frame has supplied and erected its 140mm pre-insulated timber frame kits for the first phase of Acorn Property Group’s landmark development – Cubis Bruton in Somerset – comprising three and four-bedroom houses

and two-storey apartment blocks. Devised by land artist Mark Merer, Cubis Bruton is striking and architecturally innovative. Combining sustainability and environmentally aware technology with compelling design, the properties offer flexible, future-proof living.

Cubis Bruton is unique, requiring complex design and product engineering. Large, open plan internal spaces with modern lines combine with a distinctive roofscape of geometric shapes, cantilevers and green roofs. The number of variations (up to three) per house type (x 11), added to the timber frame design challenge. While 80% of the properties featured flat roofs, several had sedum roofs. The weight of these affected the centre and size of the joists required. Taylor Lane utilised Posi-Joists as the engineered metal web joists can span further and bear additional load over standard timber joists whilst accommodating services. Cubis Bruton is shortlisted in the Private Housing Project of the Year at the Structural Timber Awards 2020. Source:

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UK INDUSTRY NEWS ‘Offsite for Everyone’ Launched The Supply Chain Sustainability School has launched Offsite for Everyone, a comprehensive new suite of learning materials to guide the construction industry in its adoption of offsite construction. Offsite for Everyone is targeted at both organisations and individuals, “We hear so much about the need to change the way we build, but very little about what have to do differently in our day-to-day jobs,” says Ian Heptonstall, Director of the Supply Chain Sustainability School. “Our new free to access, CPD-accredited, learning materials take six key job functions: design, project management, procurement, logistics, quantity surveying and site management, and for the first time outline what we must do differently if we are to reap the many benefits of offsite.” The learning materials in Offsite for Everyone range from full-day courses, virtual courses and e-learning modules, to videos – all of which are free for anyone to use. With funding from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), the materials have been developed by the School in partnership with the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) and National Open Colleges Network (NOCN). For architects and designers, it is critical to the successful implementation of offsite that they follow a Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) process and consider offsite at an early

CITB Chief Executive to Leave in 2021

stage – so, embedding knowledge of MMC within design professions is essential to increasing premanufactured value in the UK construction industry. “Each sector has its own specific requirements,” says Nigel Ostime, Project Delivery Director at Hawkins\ Brown. “So it is important to understand which MMC categories are best suited to each building type. The free-to-use School learning resources provide clear advice on this and have proved an invaluable resource for our designers, as well as forming networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities with likeminded professionals, constructors and manufacturers.” Construction recruitment business Build Space supported the School to develop the training modules,


Sarah, CITB’s first female CEO, led the training body through a major, successful transformation programme, Vision 2020. It saw CITB shift from direct provision of a range of commercial services towards delivering strategic outcomes for the whole construction industry. This was achieved through improving influence at government level, introducing a new governance structure and increasing the return and impact from the Levy.

Peter Lauener, Chair of CITB, said: “Sarah has been a superb Chief Executive for CITB, serving industry’s skills needs with dedication, and making us a stronger and more effective organisation in the process. Thanks to Sarah’s work, and that of her senior team, the Board and I can remain confident in CITB’s commitment and ability to deliver the new strategic plan and to achieve industry endorsement of our approach in the consensus process we expect to run next year. We wish Sarah well for the future – whatever she does, we know she will bring the unique mix of energy, enthusiasm and expertise to bear which makes her such an effective leader.”

Sarah played a pivotal role in protecting hundreds of apprentices who had lost their jobs due to the collapse of Carillion in January 2018. This year she led a rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic, making a series of difficult decisions which have been welcomed by industry – protecting apprenticeships and prioritising direct funding for employers, while helping businesses’ cash flow by agreeing an unprecedented ‘Levy holiday’. During her tenure she has promoted the value and importance of diversity and inclusivity. Sarah Beale, Chief Executive of CITB, has given notice of her resignation which will come into effect from September 2021. She has served as CEO since January 2017, having previously held a range of senior leadership positions at the organisation over the past 16 years.


introducing key contacts to the course development team to bring relevant case studies and expert insight. The firm now requires that all candidates placed into offsite construction complete the relevant Offsite for Everyone training modules. Dominic Coyne, Director at Build Space explains: “We have been helping offsite construction contractors build their teams for over 10 years and during this time we have seen some massive advances in the market. Quality, sustainability, design and cost have all improved immeasurably and constant advances being made need strong training to support them. The School training is a gamechanger, in a market with a major skills shortage, it is a great way of bridging the knowledge gap.”

In order to ensure delivery of CITB’s current plans, provide leadership and stability through these challenging times and make sure that the organisation is in the strongest possible position to move forward, Sarah will be staying on until September 2021.

On announcing her departure, Sarah Beale added: “It’s been an honour to lead CITB. A part of me will always stay in this great organisation, which is full of brilliant people making a real difference to people’s lives and careers, as well as supporting construction employers across Great Britain. I’m proud of the work we have done together, and our record of delivery. It will be tough to leave after 16 fantastic years, but right now I’m focused on delivering our Skills Stability Plan, including seeing through internal changes and setting up CITB to deliver beyond that, before taking a breather and identifying a new career challenge.” Source:


UK INDUSTRY NEWS Palmerston House Called a ‘Game Changer’

Councillor William Meyer, Cabinet Member for Housing at Lewes District Council, said: “Palmerston House represents a complete and hugely exciting departure in 21st century housing construction. These wonderful new homes provide a design template that I am certain will be replicated all over the UK as decision makers discover what we have achieved in Newhaven. There is no doubt that this is a game changer, not just in terms of raising the bar for sustainability and fire safety, but also in build quality and finish. The apartments are stunning examples of what social housing professionals should be striving for.”

It is anticipated the mains energy use will be reduced by 70%, taking the properties ‘off-grid’ for up to three or four months of the year. The modules are super insulated, meaning they are 40% more energy efficient than traditional homes. Mechanical ventilation and heat recovery systems are installed in each apartment. They filter and exchange the air to keep the environment low in humidity, saving on maintenance issues/costs and maintaining a healthy fresh air supply within each home.





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The 13 one and two-bed apartments are equipped to the highest specification, in terms of standard and desirable features, sustainability credentials and fire safety standards that effectively future proof the development against all anticipated toughening of regulations post-Grenfell enquiry. Every apartment has its own 2.1kWh solar PV installation and 2.7Kw battery to store electricity generated during the day for use at peak times. Power usage monitoring

displays are also installed in each home and all residents will receive advice and guidance on how to interpret and use the information to further reduce energy use.


A new modular council development in Newhaven, East Sussex, is being hailed as a ‘game changer’ for social housing and a window on the future of residential schemes. The entire development consists of 36 modules constructed within the Boutique Modern factory in Newhaven and craned into place.




UK INDUSTRY NEWS Premier’s Multi-Million COVID-19 Testing Contract Doubled The multi-million pound contract awarded to Premier Modular to provide bespoke modular buildings for COVID-19 testing has been doubled to 50 sites across the UK. In the last three months, Premier has invested £7million in its hire fleet to meet the increasing demand for its modular buildings in the healthcare, infrastructure, education and construction sectors. The extension of the modular building contract for COVID-19 testing follows the success of the first phase awarded to Premier by the Department of Health and Social Care for an initial 25 sites from Inverness to Portsmouth. This major national project is supporting the Government in increasing testing capacity in the current pandemic and was procured through the Crown Commercial Service. Since the first project was delivered in Bolton, Premier has now set up standalone community testing sites in towns and cities across the country including Inverness, Leamington Spa, Dudley, Nottingham, Aylesbury, Buxton and Liverpool. The next batch of sites will be in Leeds, Redcar, Durham and Oadby in Leicestershire. David Harris, Managing Director of Premier Modular, said “The work our teams have carried out

across the country and round the clock has been phenomenal and has been very well received in those communities. Our colleagues continue to pull out all the stops in the factory and on site to set up the testing sites in just two to three days which really is an outstanding achievement given the bespoke nature of the buildings and the complexity of the site requirements. We are delighted this work has been recognised with the doubling of our contract to 50 sites.” “Our teams remain totally committed to playing their part in the national effort to support the Government in rapidly increasing COVID-19 testing capabilities. This is a vital initiative to help safeguard public health. This contract also demonstrates just how responsive

modular construction can be when combined with strong project management and logistical operations to help the NHS respond to urgent local needs.” Each standalone test site has a 110sq m purposedesigned testing building pre-fitted with eight patient cubicles, hygienic walls, separate staff entrance and exit, test collection and drop off zones and a family testing room. Premier’s contract also includes the supply of welfare facilities in three buildings to accommodate a PPE room, stores, test preparation, staff rest room, kitchenette and toilets, as well as essential services – water supply, effluent collection and electricity generators. Source:

Latest Phase Complete on King Edward VI School Renovation Midlands contractor G F Tomlinson has completed the latest phase of works on the expansion and renovation of King Edward VI School in Lichfield, Staffordshire. Comprising two phases of works for Staffordshire County Council under the Staffordshire Construction framework, the project involves the delivery of a new extension to an existing building, as well as the construction of a new modular building to provide essential replacement teaching spaces at the co-educational comprehensive for pupils aged 11 to 18. Phase one is expected to be complete in spring 2021 and involves the construction of a new three-storey extension on the site of a former swimming pool, which has been closed for over ten years. The extension will provide the school with enhanced teaching and auxiliary spaces, as well as an administration area on the lower ground floor, which will be the location of the school’s new student services area. Phase two started in spring this year and is now complete – works involved the demolition of the existing accommodation buildings, replacing them with a brand new standalone modern modular


structure to provide enhanced science laboratory teaching facilities. This is the second contract secured by G F Tomlinson through the Staffordshire Construction framework for Staffordshire County Council, led by Entrust Property Services, and follows the successful delivery of the £5.2million Poppyfields Primary School in Cannock last summer, as part of a major housing development in the area. Building on a winning collaboration following Poppyfields Primary School, G F Tomlinson once again appointed Arc Partnership to provide architectural and engineering services for works at King Edward VI School. Ideal Modular, part of G F Tomlinson’s existing supply chain, was also appointed to deliver the modular element of this project.

Chris Flint, Director of G F Tomlinson, said: “We are pleased to have completed the latest phase of this project for our client Staffordshire County Council. The works are providing the school with a much-needed renovation, by removing older buildings and replacing them with brand new, optimised teaching spaces and facilities. These important changes to the school will maximise the space and have a positive impact on the overall experience of both the pupils and the staff.” Staffordshire County Council is leading this project, with project management from ENTRUST, G F Tomlinson acting as main contractors and Arc partnership acting as architect and structural engineer. Source:



NATIONWIDE ‘RAISING THE BAR EVEN HIGHER’ Clear communication has been key to companies making a safe return from lockdown restrictions enforced by COVID-19. Acting with ‘integrity and professionalism’, the measures taken by Nationwide Windows have been described as ‘clear and concise’ and praised for raising ‘the bar even higher’. and households was an innovative action that has been received really well. All requests by Sovereign have been dealt with in a ‘can do’ attitude by Nationwide. Nationwide are one of the leading contractors when dealing with change and new challenges with clear and concise guidance, method statements, risk assessments and preconstruction phase plans.” Dante La Bella, Customer Services Manager at Abbey Developments Ltd, added: “Nationwide’s service is very efficient indeed even through these difficult times and communication is always excellent.” “Nationwide were very proactive in sending us information early on from the onset of the coronavirus outbreak and throughout lockdown concerning the COVID-19 measures that they were adopting,” says Katie Waller, Programme Manager at Saxon Weald. “They managed to reassure us, as a client, that they were following government guidelines, had put specific contingency plans in place and gave us further information and links to their website. The videos that they produced were both straightforward and informative and offered comfort


in their processes at this worrying and unusual time. We have always been impressed with the way that Nationwide acts with integrity and professionalism. However, their recent communications have raised the bar even higher.” Mark Lewis, Senior Commercial Manager at Sovereign, commented: “Nationwide has tackled this very difficult period with their usual excellent levels of communication and prompt responses. The decision to use videos as an aid for both staff

“It was obvious to us from a very early stage that we needed to keep in regular contact with our customers and keep them informed of all the steps we were taking to make a safe return to operations,” says John Whalley, Nationwide Managing Director. “It’s great to receive feedback like this as it shows that we’ve tackled this difficult situation in the best way possible in order to safely service our customers’ needs.” For more information visit:

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UK INDUSTRY NEWS PLACE Units Delivered to Test Site The first batch of modular homes designed as accommodation for homeless Londoners has been assembled on a test site in Tower Hamlets. The prototype units belong to PLACE (the Pan-London Accommodation Collaborative Enterprise), a notfor-profit company established by London boroughs with a mission to provide high-quality temporary accommodation for homeless families. The initiative is supported by £11million of funding from the Mayor of London and represents the first collaboration between UK local authorities purchasing modular housing for this purpose. Designed with council housing and homelessness experts according to PLACE’s specifications, the units are manufactured by ESS Modular. PLACE accommodation meets all London design requirements and building control regulations and has the quality of permanent housing but has the added advantage that the units can be relocated to a different site when required. The modular homes will be placed on vacant ‘meanwhile’ sites – land earmarked for development in the long term, which would otherwise remain underused for at least the next seven years. Following the successful assembly of the prototypes on the Tower Hamlets test site, PLACE is working with participating boroughs to confirm sites and accommodate homeless households within the next year. Tower Hamlets and several other boroughs are looking into suitable locations and PLACE aims to supply 200 homes across the capital by February 2022.

TTF Issues New Brexit Guide

Sir Steve Bullock, Chair of PLACE, said: “This is an exciting step forward in our mission to boost the supply of high-quality temporary accommodation for homeless Londoners. Designed and manufactured to strict standards and with the needs of homeless families at the forefront of our minds, PLACE’s modular housing is attractive, comfortable, and spacious. This is accommodation that families will enjoy living in and we can’t wait to see boroughs start to use our units over the coming year.” John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets added: “I am glad we’ve been able to host these test units in Tower Hamlets. We’ve already identified a site for the first modular homes and in the coming weeks we hope

Paul Tierney, CEO of ESS Modular, said: “It is an honour for ESS Modular to work with PLACE on this important project which will provide highquality, local accommodation for people needing a home. Using modern methods of construction, our precision-manufactured homes deliver the quality of a permanent home but offer a huge additional benefit as they can be relocated to another site needing urgent accommodation at a later date.” Source:

The Timber Trade Federation (TTF) has updated and republished advice to help firms prepare for the end of the transition period when the UK leaves the EU Customs Union on 1 January 2021. The ‘TTF Brexit Guide: preparing for 1 January 2021’ aims to support the UK timber supply chain to prepare for new processes and challenges.

marked goods to the UK during 2021, where they are using an EU Notified Body they must prepare for the UK CA mark to become the sole UK requirement from January 2022. European harmonised standards and UK designated standards will be identical to begin with, however firms should also plan for a future where these may diverge over time.

These are significant changes, as the EU is the primary source of timber imports into the UK, and the introduction of new requirements such as Custom Checks will mean greater administrative burden for firms when importing from the EU. While most timber products will remain duty free under the UK Global Tariff, firms should still check and familiarise themselves with the Commodity Codes relevant to their products.

David Hopkins, Chief Executive of the TTF, said: “Regardless of whether a deal is signed, the UK will see a fundamental shift in the relationship with our biggest trading partner. When the UK exits the EU single market and customs union, it is essential every business in the UK timber supply chain is prepared. Using this guidance, which is tailored to meet the needs of the timber supply chain, firms will be able to build a working knowledge of these changes, as well as be directed to where they can find detailed information.” The guidance is focused on providing information on Contract Documents, Logistics, Customs Entry, Finance, CE Marking, Plant Health, EUTR vs UKTR, Duty Rates, Commodity Codes, Trade Preferences, and linking to where firms can find more.

UK importers of EU timber will also be considered ‘Operators’ and will be obliged to exercise due diligence to ensure negligible risk of illegally harvested timber entering their supply chain. The UK TTF recently launched a free Due Diligence Toolkit to support firms to meet their obligations. UK CA marking commences from 1 January 2021, and while manufacturers can continue to supply CE


to secure planning permission. It’s important that we think outside the box to tackle these complex challenges and this programme is doing just that.”



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UK INDUSTRY NEWS New Faces at TopHat TopHat has announced the appointment of Carl Leaver as Chairman and James Matthews and Kate Davies as Non-Executive Directors. Founded in early 2016, TopHat commenced production in early 2018 at its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in South Derbyshire and has been a pioneer in developing industry-leading technology and manufacturing processes that will shape the UK’s digital construction sector. Earlier this year, TopHat announced a five-year contract that will see TopHat work with BoKlok UK to manufacture two and three-bedroom houses. Carl Leaver has a strong track record of value creation as both CEO and Chairman, gained across industry sectors ranging from leisure to telecommunications. Most recently, Carl was Chairman of eir (formerly Eircom Ireland) and Executive Deputy Chairman of Ladbrokes Coral Group plc. Carl is also Chairman of Lebara. Carl Leaver said: “I am very excited to have joined TopHat as Chairman to help the business achieve its mission of transforming housebuilding in the UK through the application of technology and leading-edge production capability. TopHat’s platform underpins the quality of its product while at the same time reducing production costs to among the lowest in the industry.”

James Matthews has been at the heart of the scaling of Ocado’s technology platform over the past fifteen years. As CEO of Ocado Technology he leads a team of 2,000 technologists across four countries, building Ocado Smart Platform for international clients and providing technology services to the rest of Ocado Group. James Matthews, said: “In TopHat I see a great opportunity to drive the adoption of technology and automated manufacturing in an industry that has historically lagged others in this regard” Kate Davies has been the Chief Executive of Britain’s fourth largest housing association, Notting Hill Genesis (and previously Notting Hill Housing Trust) since 2004, growing it from a 16,000 unit organisation to one with over 64,000 homes in London and the southeast.

She has also worked in the private sector, local government and the NHS. Kate Davies said: “Modular house-building will be central to addressing the UK’s housing crisis by providing modern, desirable and connected housing far more quickly than traditional methods. TopHat is in a strong position to lead the sector. Not only does its technology and manufacturing platform enable TopHat to produce homes of outstanding quality at low cost, but also its approach to design reshapes perceptions of what modular homes look like and feel like to live in.” Pictured (L-R): Carl Leaver, James Matthews and Kate Davies Source:

Taking a Safety-First Approach to Product Development EOS are supporting prominent rainscreen and facade manufacturer, BTS Facades and Fabrications to bring an innovative and high-performance complete walling solution to market. Taking a safety-first approach, the pioneering Vantage® Secret Fix-Full System (SF-FS) is a complete through-wall system incorporating an external rainscreen facade, protected using EOS’s innovative Thruwall® system, that can be used in both newbuilds and refurbishment projects. Developed by BTS in partnership with EOS, Etex, Siderise, DuPont, Knauf Insulation and SFS and Nvelope - the system is believed to be the first in the UK to have successfully completed two large scale tests in accordance with the most recent BS8414-2:2020 standard. The Vantage® Secret Fix-Full System was recently tested in Belfast for fire performance by UKAS-accredited test laboratory Efectis UK and Ireland, and successfully conformed to all the stringent criteria for both internal and external spread of flame, as well as mechanical failure. Steve Thompson, Managing Director of EOS said: “Bringing our expertise in developing advanced steel framing solutions to the project team, the new


Vantage® Secret Fix-Full System is protected by our ground-breaking Thruwall® system – developed in partnership with EOS and Etex.” Compliance with BS8414-2:2020 provides not only technical credibility but importantly for designers and specifiers – certified assurance is now a prerequisite for many tender opportunities, giving the new Vantage® Secret Fix-Full System a commercial advantage. Mark Wiper, BTS’ Technical Manager said: “Working collaboratively enables us to harness the collective intellect of industry-leading experts as well as deliver proven performance. This has given us the ability to develop a wall system that is fully compliant with the latest building regulations. Through the dedication and commitment of our supply chain partners, the system has been delivered to market in

record time, allowing us to meet the latest safety test standard. This level of testing and collaboration gives clients the confidence in our system knowledge and in our ability to bring projects to market.” A robust testing protocol was seen as an essential part of the product development strategy to not only gain a specification advantage in the open market but also to demonstrate technical prowess to a wider construction audience at a time when a building’s safety performance is under rigorous interrogation. Demonstrating commitment to regulatory compliance by bringing a fully tested and certified system to market with proven performance was deemed vital by the development team to offer confidence to the construction sector. Source:





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Published in September to seemingly little fanfare, Cast CEO, Mark Farmer and HTA Architects partner, Mike De’Ath’s report offering up a ‘blueprint for a housing led industrial strategy’ explained how modular construction could deliver upto 75,000 homes a year across the UK. What were some of the key themes to emerge?

1 This report sets out a bold ambition to seize on the opportunities presented by COVID-19 recovery planning to accelerate the role modular homebuilding plays in the future as part of a much more strategic approach to nurturing and mainstreaming the manufactured housing market. The vision in the report sets out the potential to create a sector capable of delivering 75,000 new build homes every year within a decade through a series of interlinked, long term interventions by Government and its agencies co-ordinating demand stimulation alongside responsible capacity building. At its heart is the call for more tenure diversity to allow deeper market absorption combined with a new modular homebuilding


national integration platform capable of aggregating and co-ordinating the market at scale such that clients and manufacturers can combine and collaborate in one place in a move towards more unified design and technical standards, quicker and larger data and evidence collection and the building of confidence in underwriting markets. “We are seeking to create a platform for significant additional housing delivery and market diversification that also places modern methods of construction (MMC) and, particularly, modular manufactured housing at the heart of making quality homes. In doing so we envisage a major industrial strategy boost that moves us towards a greener future with resulting jobs and opportunities.”

2 The three linked objectives proposed in the report are:

• More Homes – a programme to

build 75,000 additional, high-quality, manufactured homes a year by 2030. • More Jobs – the potential for 50,000 high productivity and quality jobs, ranging from SME level to larger innovators, all helping to level up regional economies. • More Innovation – beautiful new homes and skilled jobs that are underpinned by fresh design and manufacturing thinking, low and zero carbon performance, cutting edge embedded technology and connectivity and much more innovative thinking in tenure products to maximise and stabilise end market demand.


HOUSING DELIVERY “There is a realistic ambition to deliver 75,000 additional homes per annum to the market that becomes an international exemplar in innovative housing delivery and drives standards in the rest of the newbuild housing market.” A wide range of consultees were spoken to from all four corners of the offsite sector – a ‘coalition of the willing’ – that represented the leading authorities and organisations in each sector referred to in the report. And on whose achievements and commitment form the bedrock of future housing delivery. “We have deliberately brought together consultees who represent an unprecedented and broad cross sector network. Leading residential investors, developers, modular manufacturers as well as local and regional government representatives with different political leadership, all with a shared interest in increasing housing delivery through factory production.” “We calculate that there is potential capacity at the moment in the volumetric modular sector to deliver 10,000 - 15,000 technically accredited, mortgageable homes in the UK with only 7-8 businesses able to deliver over 1,000 homes per annum as of today. Of that capacity only 30-40% is currently being used so the starting point for any strategy must be to fully utilise existing untapped production capacity including bringing in the untapped technically accredited SME capacity that exists. “From discussions with consultees in the sector, each factory operating at a capacity of 2,000 homes per annum would create on average 600 jobs, or 12,000 new jobs based on the 20 factories envisaged. Based on econometric principles, this is likely to also support a further 15,000 jobs in the related supply chains, including in manufacturing equipment supply. Extrapolating this to a 2030 target of 75,000 modular homes per annum would create and sustain a total of 50,000 additional jobs. “The most important step to underpin demand side stimulation and to achieve the growth in modular manufactured homes and the jobs

3 envisaged is to create a smooth, sustained, long-term pipeline of demand that is visible and appropriate for modular delivery. Design quality and lasting performance should be an absolute for residential development in the UK, the fact that it is modular should be secondary to making a beautiful home, designed first and foremost to create the best possible living environment and one that responds well to the local context.

“Modular manufacture is the biggest single gamechanger when it comes to additionality of new housing supply.” “This report is about creating a more sustainable and resilient housing market that works immediately for a post COVID-19 world and which is enabled by a modern and innovative industrial strategy. All of this can be aligned to existing policy initiatives or already proposed regulatory changes including planning and Building Regulation reforms. It can also accord with The Future Homes Standard, The Fire Safety Bill, The Building Safety Bill as well as the New Homes Ombudsman or the wider desired outcomes from the Construction Sector Deal and Transforming Construction programme. We purely suggest a housing policy that is better synchronised at scale with industrial strategy objectives and the co-ordination of support between BEIS, Her Majesty’s Treasury, MHCLG and Homes England. Also, it promotes the enthusiasm and commitment of organisations and authorities already working hard to promote innovative partnerships and utilising modular manufacture.

“The report is rooted in the experience of not just the authors but our consultees. They deserve recognition and encouragement as well as the wider policy support to grow and scale up. The biggest challenge is in moving quickly to the aggregation and integration platform needed to re-shape the modular market and in the tenure innovation and associated funding models that will underpin more sustainable and stable demand. Everything depends on building that resilient and demand led market that immediately absorbs the new homes that our economy needs to be urgently delivering now as part of its post pandemic stimulus. Creating an additional 75,000 new homes a year by 2030 could add 0.75% to our GDP annually. “Ultimately modular manufacturing and offsite systems must enable high-quality residential design. For the homeowner, the fact that a house is modular is secondary to the fact that it’s beautiful and practical and affordable. “Our ask of government is simple: help us stimulate and then galvanise the demand for modular homebuilding. With this help, a sustained long-term pipeline can underpin investment in manufacturing to deliver the quality homes we need, creating the jobs we want.” For more information and to download a copy of the report ‘Build Homes, Build Jobs, Build Innovation’ visit the Cast Consultancy website: Images: 01-03. A target of 75,000 modular homes per annum could create and sustain a total of 50,000 additional jobs. Courtesy HTA Architects/Vision Modular/ Tide Construction/Urban Splash





Picking up multiple awards at the Offsite Awards 2020 and the coveted Winner of Winners honour, the newbuild resettlement prison in Wellingborough is an exemplar for integration, collaborative working and a successful offsite methodology.

1 Wellingborough’s primary purpose is to create spaces that encourage rehabilitation and support a reduction in reoffending. It is the first in a series of schemes to be undertaken as part of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) wider challenge to reform and modernise the prison estate to make it more efficient, safer and focused on rehabilitation. Situated on a 36-acre site in Northampton, this vast £253million project will deliver 1,680 prison places. Led by the MoJ, each partner has worked single-mindedly from day one to create a highperforming, collaborative team with shared objectives and values. The scale of the build has facilitated investment within Kier’s supply chain and the MoJ has been keen that Kier takes every opportunity to use


Wellingborough as a platform to educate, train and inspire new and existing industry professionals to fully appreciate all aspects of digital and offsite construction. This provided Kier and their supply chain with a perfect storm as a platform for digital platforms and design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) advancement. The results have been considerable and diverse – providing direct project benefits, wider economic gains, as well as programme-wide improvements through standardisation, digital integration and offsite construction. In procuring the Prison Estate Transformation Programme – which resulted in the newbuild prison at Wellingborough – MoJ knew that in order to meet the demand for 10,000 new prison places, a new approach

was required. This included setting ‘golden principles’ that apply beyond Wellingborough and establishing a platform-based design that can be utilised across its wider 10,000 prison places programme, thereby creating economies of scale and driving an offsite approach. A core feature of the programme is to optimise how the MoJ’s assets are designed, procured, delivered and operated, through a DfMA or ‘platform’ approach. Compared with traditional construction, this involved forming an integrated, cohesive team much earlier in the process, bringing in specialist input to maximise value. The result is updated technical standards, that reflect a new category of prison and an enhanced rehabilitative environment delivered



2 through a rapid repeatable build process. A platform for delivering future prisons more quickly and efficiently. The standardised design that can be rolled-out across the additional 10,000 prison places programme quickly and efficiently. Increased stakeholder engagement was required to agree on a new design that could create smaller cohorts of prisoners and be procured through supply chain partners that would share the MoJ’s drive for digital, offsite construction and a partnering ethos. Challenges included agreeing common specifications details, along with maximising the attractiveness to the precast concrete market to leverage economies of scale. Against a backdrop of political change, increased public scrutiny on prison sentences and reoffending rates, the MoJ sought to develop a new style of prison that would develop a design that is more conducive with rehabilitation, supported the wider smart construction agenda and created increased social value during construction and in operation. The MoJ also knew their bold aspiration required a new approach, optimising how assets were designed, procured, delivered and operated, through a DfMA or ‘kit-of-parts’ approach. The component assemblies designed for Wellingborough will form the blueprint for further prisons. It was therefore crucial to work together to

3 create a repeatable design that could be replicated and progressed across the next wave of projects and that could be produced at scale by multiple manufacturers and main contractors. The result is an optimised prison design that is repeatable but also fast and safe to construct. Wellingborough will be built 22% faster than using traditional methods with on-site labour reduced by a third, preventing almost 20 accidents (based on HSE’s statistics). Wellingborough also saw the firstever use of a PPC2000 contract across multiple Tier 1 contractors as part of the wider prison transformation programme. MoJ has been a collaborative and open client from tender stage through to delivery. Developing a fresh approach to tendering that sought to procure supply chain partners that shared the MoJ’s vision, drive for digital and offsite and a partnering ethos. The collaboration was demonstrated by the groundbreaking ceremony, which was attended by over 70 people, including government ministers, and the MoJ’s most senior civil servant. During COVID-19, MoJ have been a supportive and encouraging client, playing their part in helping to ensure the project was able to maintain progress. Maximising the benefits of early, transparent and collaborative supply chain engagement, Kier led a

collaborative procurement strategy in partnership with the MoJ's consultants, WT Partnership and Mace, to collectively agree how the programme would be delivered in a safe, efficient way that met the aspirations of the contract and vision statement. The results at Wellingborough have been considerable and diverse: from direct project benefits to wider economic gains and programme-wide improvements via standardisation, digital integration and offsite construction. The platform-based design for Wellingborough is already being replicated at another new 1,680-place prison development in Glen Parva. A clear sign of the MoJ’s confidence in their offsite approach is the leadership they have demonstrated among their peers. They regularly offer Wellingborough as a case study and opportunity for site visits to share best practice with fellow government departments progressing a ‘presumption in favour of offsite’. For more information visit: Images: 01-03. Precast concrete was at the heart of the prison design alongside expert use of digital design, prefabricated components and a mature collaborative offsite approach. Courtesy Kier Construction





Steve Chivers, Managing Director at modular manufacturer Rollalong and Paul Read, Head of Development and Sales at Magna Housing, discuss how their partnership is encouraging more clients to see the benefits of offsite construction.


2 The two Dorset-based companies have been working together to develop a cluster of clients in the south of England to create a strong enough pipeline of demand for modular housing to make the offsite approach cost-effective for the manufacturer. “Our main issue at present is that clients aren’t prepared to commit to the volumes that make MMC work,”


says Steve Chivers. “It’s a chicken and egg situation: clients want our higher quality product but at the price of a traditional build home. If factories had the same volumes, clients would soon be getting the quality and the price point they naturally demand. Clusters of clients who are prepared to embrace modular construction as the way forward would bring that into reality.”

Rollalong and Magna Housing have been working together for about 18 months and to date have manufactured 45 houses which are identified for seven different schemes at various stages of planning approval. “Data we hold as a social landlord backs up the narrative of the well-publicised performance gap issue which was highlighted by the Committee on Climate Change and Future Homes Standards,” says Paul Read. “Our data demonstrates that the people who are really taking a leap of faith are those who procure homes on a site-by-site basis at the lowest initial cost: sometimes you get lucky on quality and price and sometimes you don’t. “We spent a year looking into the business case for MMC as a social landlord and working with Complex Asset Management Solutions (CAMS) to understand in detail the whole life value of the buildings, and after we’d done all that due diligence we decided that this was the best way to proceed. We then went out to procurement, weighting heavily on quality rather than lowest price to find a manufacturer we could partner with. Rollalong in fact won on both quality and price, and 18 months into our relationship we are now on our second design iteration.” “For clients to switch their approach from building onsite to offsite manufacture turns things completely on their head – it’s a fundamental shift in thinking. A manufacturing environment has fixed costs and employs its workforce directly. The quality control, environmental, health and safety and staff welfare advantages are well known, and as a client we appreciate the use of local labour, reduced waste, time certainty, considerate construction and speed of




3 delivery. It’s the fixed cost that enables these other things to happen and the only way to spread and reduce that cost is to increase productivity through repetition and volume of orders. “Every client who’s yet to be convinced has a different reason for not embracing MMC. If the reason is quality, and you employ a clerk of works or enhanced employer agent services to solve that, then presumably that’s because your data is telling you that the performance gap is real. If that’s the case, what is the rationale for not looking at both MMC and traditional options to start to explore the business case for change? “What Magna Housing and Rollalong are doing is trying to get these clients to come together, share data and experience and embrace MMC based on a clear business case, and we are working with Homes England to support this switch. They commissioned a research study into MMC this summer to drive innovation in the construction industry, which is welcome news.” One principle that is important to Steve Chivers is that the manufacturer is guided by the housing association when it comes to design. “What we haven’t done is design our own suite of homes to take to market,” he explains. “We don’t know what the optimum house layout looks like for a particular client, but Magna Housing have a portfolio of homes that have been tried and tested and consistently reviewed using 10 years of residents’ feedback from social landlords across the South West. So Magna Housing have designed the layouts for their residents and Rollalong have designed the portfolio for manufacture.


“By manufacturing homes offsite and building up stock we can work flexibly with Magna Housing and other clients. Under the old system a developer identifies and secures land, then gets planning consent and then builds. But that system doesn’t work for a manufacturer. We just want to keep building up our stock. In an ideal world, if I’ve got 400 modular homes stored in our yard but no planning approval on site, I can use the houses on another site where there is approval or sell them to another client. “Similarly, Magna Housing can call off 50 new homes from our core stock and order the other homes they need later on. If there’s a delay in getting planning consent the houses can be used on a development somewhere else, so the system remains flexible and the clients get all the benefits of speed of delivery.” While Rollalong offers speed and flexibility, Magna Housing takes great pride in the design and build quality of their homes. “We know people so we’ve designed houses that we know people will love living in,” says Paul. “Rollalong have brought all their engineering knowhow and knowledge from years of manufacturing and applied it to a housing product. We’ve taken things that we know people like and Rollalong have looked at the area we’re operating in and come up with a solution that meets the requirement. “With MMC we can design homes that can flex and adapt to people’s lives. Our lives may never return to normal after the pandemic – lifestyles will change and people’s needs may alter. Perhaps more people will work from home in future and will be looking for extra space, and our products can flex

and adapt to that. Or a customer might be looking to buy an electric car, or fit solar panels, and these homes of the future can be adapted to that. Magna Housing is a build and stay developer, not a build and leave developer. We’re looking for a lifetime relationship with the owner or renter and we want to give them more flexibility to enable them to stay in their new home for longer. It’s an old idea that I’ve always seen the value of, but it seems that only now is the market beginning to be ready for it.” Steve Chivers adds: “There are lots of headlines at the moment about poor quality and low standards in traditional construction. Modern methods of construction resolve that issue because the manufacture is of a very high quality and it takes place in a controlled factory environment. There are also benefits to having fewer workers on-site and fewer journeys to and from site – especially in the context of a global pandemic and social distancing in the workplace. As a manufacturer we want to work collaboratively with clients who totally understand the benefits of MMC in terms of safety, quality, speed and flexibility.” For more information visit: Images: 01-04. Partnerships between modular manufacturers and housing associations could be a successful future procurement model.



Our OJEU-compliant framework agreements provide public sector organisations with easy access to procure works, products and services for the construction, refurbishment and maintenance of social housing, schools and public buildings. LHC strives for excellence in the services provided to their clients and aims to deliver the best solution to suit every project’s individual needs. Our dedicated Client Support and Project Support teams are on-hand to assist throughout the life of the project. For more information on how our frameworks can work for you, get in touch.




The benefits of MMC housing are evident for the public sector – so why has take-up been so slow? Barriers to entry, from cost to standardisation need to be eradicated, says John Skivington, Group Director at LHC.

1 Despite a report calling for construction to ‘Modernise or Die’, the sector is yet to completely embrace modern methods of construction (MMC) as its modus operandi. Yes, interest has grown in recent years, but there are concerns among some parts of the social housing sector that the approach has stalled. I believe this can be attributed to a misunderstanding around the barriers to entry and complications with public sector procurement constraints. It’s vital as a sector that we dispel these myths: the country will benefit both economically and politically from widespread adoption.


The public sector could benefit from MMC to help meet the government’s ambitious target to build 300,000 homes a year to address growing demand. Statistics show that we are not even close to achieving this – the most recent figures show that just over 177,000 homes were completed in the 12 months to September 2019, with just 153,940 housing starts. With a need to accelerate local construction, MMC buildings can be delivered much quicker than traditional building methods, resulting in more homes with less disruption to the local area: it should be seen as the delivery method for public sector housing to rely on.

Alongside meeting these targets, the sector is currently addressing an overhaul of safety and accountability. With the revised building regulations, the focus will be on ensuring the safety of high-risk residential buildings through an emphasis on higher quality. As more of the process for MMC buildings is carried out in factorycontrolled conditions, the sector can benefit from a consistent quality of product. There are fewer snagging issues as a result in comparison with traditional construction methods. And as government seeks to meet daunting environmental targets, it is seeking to deliver greener homes. MMC’s higher quality products, produced


PUBLIC SECTOR PROCUREMENT in controlled conditions, can help to ensure that the gap between the ‘actual’ versus ‘designed’ performance is minimised. The benefits are clear – even the government has been vocal in support of it in the recent planning white paper, so why do so many concerns remain for MMC? First, MMC is seen by many in my sector as an expensive luxury, particularly regarding a high initial project cost. Some feel that because of this, MMC is an unviable option for the public sector. In reality, however, MMC homes have lower overall lifecycle costs: project delivery is much faster so you’ll see the sales or rent revenue much earlier. The message still needs to get through to social landlords that MMC homes also benefit from reduced maintenance costs thanks to the build quality. And as more MMC homes are procured, the additional volume of work results in an economy of scale, so costs are likely to come down further as the market becomes more mature. Secondly, there is a perception that public procurement constraints really limit a local authority’s ability to develop the right relationships required for MMC. The view is that because a consistent pipeline of work is required for the manufacturers, local authorities are not in a position to create that long-term demand for one supplier because of the way projects are procured. There is also the concern that MMC housing schemes are too complex to manage with more stakeholders and more technical areas to keep on top of. The truth, however, is that through framework agreements the contracting authorities will be able to manage this process much more easily, with a single point of contact and technical expertise across all RIBA Plan of Work 2020 stages, from the initial stages through to design, construction, handover and use. This is what LHC provides. Framework agreements allow these relationships to flourish over a longer-term period and helps set out an integrated supply chain. It’s a win-win. At LHC, we found that some local authorities struggled to deal with the unique challenges associated with MMC, in particular understanding project risks and ensuring smooth delivery. This is why we developed our Offsite Project Integrator framework to


3 provide this technical support at every stage, making available specialist consultants to help make the business case for MMC housing. MMC would also support the government’s commitment to delivering greener homes of a higher quality – parts are less likely to be faulty due to the controlled factory conditions, and they can be manufactured with a lower carbon footprint. A recent report published by Cast Consultancy and HTA Design indicates that offsite technology can result in a 40% reduction in emissions when compared to traditional construction – in particular there is a dramatic improvement in embodied CO2 emissions. We are seeing local authorities beginning to look past these barriers to entry to see the value MMC can bring. Our MMC framework has already led to a pipeline of nearly

5,000 MMC homes across 133 projects. The government’s push towards MMC in its policies and white papers should see this figure increase further. In order to implement this shift though, over-stretched local authorities need proper resourcing, technical and practical guidance, as well as help on where it can get best value for money locally. This is where LHC’s experience, local procurement expertise and MMC knowledge can certainly help. As local authorities continue to search for value for money, I believe that more and more will turn to MMC as a solution to their housing crisis. For more information visit: Images: 01-03. MMC can support the government’s commitment to delivering greener homes of a higher quality, with a lower carbon footprint.





Following on from the online Modular Matters conference and exhibition in October, a virtual roundtable focused on volumetric modular technology and the potential opportunities and challenges for providers within the residential sector.

1 As with much of contemporary life, the discussion took place on the Zoom platform, the ‘virtual roundtable’ looked to focus on some key themes on designing, building and importantly selling volumetric modular technology to a wider client and contractor market. It also touched on concerns surrounding productivity and sustainability that are now an ever-present aspect of project delivery. Here are some key soundbites from the session. With huge amounts of investment entering offsite manufacturing to fund new factories and innovative products – can these examples of private sector investment sustain the expansion of the offsite manufacturing sector? Can it all just be about the money to make the sector thrive? Andrew Shepherd, Managing Director, TopHat: “It’s not all about money but you need to produce a viable product that fits into the marketplace and answers a question. The bottom line is that you do have to invest a lot of money to make a highly automated factory. If you want to deal with


contracts at scale then there needs to be confidence in the supply chain – that is one of the biggest challenges.” Nigel Dyke, Director, Alec French Architects: “There is a lack of understanding of the levels of investment required of newer entrants to the market to run a successful business, but they will find a niche or they will leave the market. In some ways volumetric modular is still seen as a niche form of construction, so a lot of funders are nervous of it.” Neel Khiroya, Managing Director, Excelsior: “Some clients are highly informed – but is there a real understanding of what volumetric can deliver? I think there is a massive gap. The industry needs to try and find an easier way for entrants to enter the market and use modular. Developers also need to understand that there are many different systems available.” Aviv Brosilovski, Business Development, Forta PRO: “Not a lot of the current manufacturers and people trying to get into the modular market fully understand the scope

of becoming a modular production facility at scale. There are a few things that need to be understood, such as how you operate a production line and keep a steady constant flow of work going through it.” One of the conclusions from the recent report from Cast’s Mark Farmer and HTA’s Mike De’Ath outlining a ‘blueprint for a housing led industrial strategy’ was that modular manufacture could be the ‘biggest single gamechanger’ when it comes to new housing supply with more Government help. With planning often outlined as a culprit in slowing market growth is this possible? Phillippa Prongue, Executive Director, Apex Airspace: “We need to work with the planners on how you integrate the planning into a project. For example, an airspace development might be allowed through PDR but may need separate consent for the rest of the building if you are changing use. There is quite a lot of work to be done when looking at a whole development perspective.”


MODULAR MATTERS ROUNDTABLE There is now a business and moral imperative to pursue low carbon design and hit net zero carbon targets. What role can volumetric modular homes play in achieving the 2050 targets and is modern living more than just keeping carbon dioxide levels in our lives lower?

2 Neel Khiroya, Managing Director, Excelsior: “I think the Government can do a lot more to help the industry. I don’t think the lines of communication are open enough. If the Government is serious and want to help modular developments come to the fore, they could help with the tax system or stamp duty reduction to make offsite developments more attractive.” What is needed most to ensure that volumetric modular techniques are adopted by clients/contractors in greater volume? How can the industry impress on clients that modular is the way forward ahead of a traditional route? Aviv Brosilovski, Business Development, Forta PRO: “Familiarity and knowledge goes a long way. It is about being more open minded – in the UK more manufacturers need more projects to go and see. There is nothing like seeing reality, then there is a lot less explaining to do. The customer experience is very important. The industry has to get better at that and then it becomes a compelling proposition for clients.” Phillippa Prongue, Executive Director, Apex Airspace: “We need to impress the notions of quality and added value – airspace opens up a lot of opportunities as land is expensive across the London Boroughs – and there is the massive housing shortage, so we need to show that we can deliver efficiently.” Gary Cass, Managing Director, ICW Building Control: “For me there has to be a confidence in the product that people are investing in and rigorous testing of the market is required. The correct warranties and standard approvals from a reputable 38

provider that has a good market share, ultimately drives the saleability of the product.” Nigel Dyke, Director, Alec French Architects: “It comes back to the certainty of the product and the market. There is a lot of innovation around and so much going on. As a designer there are so many organisations around that I can talk to. It will be interesting to see as the market matures whether there is still that richness of innovative opportunities out there.”

Gary Cass, Managing Director, ICW Building Control: “There are many issues surrounding low carbon but more important is how we create healthier homes and understand how buildings can enhance our health and wellbeing generally. When we can promote buildings that can prove some of those things, then that may be the turning point in capturing the public’s imagination and gaining greater positive media exposure about modular methods.” Phillippa Prongue, Executive Director, Apex Airspace: “Not having to demolish and rebuild is a much more sustainable way to create homes anyway, so for us we are improving what is there already. I think modular delivery can very much play a part in delivering those 2050 net zero carbon targets.”

Maciej Pulawski, Innovation Manager, Premier Guarantee: “We are going for a robust assessment of systems and doing our best to raise the bar and show that when we issue a certificate of conformity, then that it is a guaranteed, structurally sound and good quality building. There has to be confidence in the system as some of these are quite complex.”

Nigel Dyke, Director, Alec French Architects: “The big issue with low carbon is the levels in existing buildings not new buildings. I think that one of the positive and perhaps unforeseen consequences of modular construction and more broadly offsite, is how easy it is to address low carbon and low energy targets. It makes a fantastic contribution.”

Neel Khiroya, Managing Director, Excelsior: “Proof of concept buildings built over time are important. As the market matures it becomes easier for potential adopters to see modular as successful. Some developers can see that they are behind the curve now and if they don’t start understanding modular soon then they are going to be left behind. Familiarity will build momentum. Even compared to a year ago it is a different landscape now.”

Greater collaboration throughout the construction industry has always been a challenge. Can offsite technology encourage ‘aggregation’ of demand and address some of the commercial/cost barriers linked to volume consumption? Is there room for collaboration to break down some of these barriers either at a micro or macro-level?

Andrew Shepherd, Managing Director, TopHat: “One of the challenges historically has been delivering exciting projects – there has been some really good projects – but not enough exciting ones. We have to do stuff that excites and engages people at all levels and sets us apart from the rest of the industry.”

Andrew Shepherd, Managing Director, TopHat: “It can be a fragmented marketplace to buy from but we need a range of suppliers with a good range of products. In some ways collaboration can run the risk of creating one homogenised product and one single solution – you get one answer to the question when really you want a range of answers.”


MODULAR MATTERS ROUNDTABLE Nigel Dyke, Director, Alec French Architects: “Collaborating as part of a modular project is fundamental. LaunchPad was a success as it was a collaborative approach across the board. It is about innovating and finding new ways to solve old problems and that inevitably fosters a collaborative approach.” Gary Cass, Managing Director, ICW Building Control: “If you look at the traditional construction industry, it is very much silo-based, and this has proven to be problematical over the years. A volumetric modular approach has the ability to have all of the elements of the team together early to ensure a better end result.” Neel Khiroya, Managing Director, Excelsior: “Collaborating can come down to different aspects such as micro-collaboration on roof space or a larger, wider collaboration on an entire project. We should share more or even look to operate some kind of open-source system that is constantly evolving.” Government support and investment into the offsite homes market will help broaden its appeal to those operating in the UK. The oft-quoted requirement of 300,000 new UK homes needed annually will only be reached using a combination of housing delivery methods – can volumetric modular play a leading role? Andrew Shepherd, Managing Director, TopHat: “To deliver the much discussed 300,000 homes we will require a different approach. So new entrants to the market will increase capacity. It’s not about competing with the traditional model, it’s about supplementing that to increase the overall volume within the market to deliver. I can see the volumetric modular industry doubling In size and capacity over the next 12 months.” Gary Cass, Managing Director, ICW Building Control: “I do strongly believe it is part of the solution but not in isolation. We have to raise the profile and levels of confidence in offsite. If funding streams can be made simpler and easier to access it will become more mainstream. Also the levels of productivity across the construction industry need to significantly improve.”

Facilitator Gary Ramsay

Aviv Brosilovski

Gary Cass

Nigel Dyke

Business Development, Managing Director, Forta PRO ICW Building Control

Director, Alec French Architects

Neel Khiroya

Phillippa Prongue

Maciej Pulawski

Andrew Shepherd

Managing Director, Excelsior

Executive Director, Apex Airspace

Innovation Manager, Premier Guarantee

Managing Director, TopHat

Editor, Offsite Magazine

Nigel Dyke, Director, Alec French Architects: “Looking at where we are now. In a sense COVID-19 has not unearthed anything new – it has just amplified trends that already existed. Volumetric modular is the same vein as that. The demand for homes is still there and there is now an opportunity to develop a more mature market.” There is always talk of the high levels of innovation within the offsite arena – certainly the undiscovered country that airspace developments are exploiting – where it is proving what volumetric delivery can achieve in dense urban areas when ‘up’ is sometimes the only option. With a 35% decrease in construction productivity over the last nine months, mostly due to the pandemic, the modular sector is well placed to step in and plug some of that gap – there is an agility in offsite and factory manufacture that isn’t there in traditional methods. In some respects ‘production’ is almost irrelevant to ‘construction’. Even putting COVID-19 to one side, the population is spending more time indoors – reportedly up to 60% of our lives is spent in our home. With natural resources finite, the buildings in which we live and increasingly work, need to be more environmentally-focused and provide a healthier space for the occupants. Although panellised systems are still the most widely used

form of offsite in terms of volumes, it is not about playing one type of offsite off against another, it is about playing offsite off against the inefficiencies of traditional construction. It is here that the specification and adoption of more volumetric modular homes is an answer to some of these big questions that are being posed around the quality of the UK’s housing stock. Many thanks to ICW Group, MPBA and the Volumetric Homes Group for hosting the Virtual Roundtable Event and thanks to all participants for their time and contributions to the online discussion.

For more information on Modular Matters visit: For more information on Volumetric Homes Group visit: Images: 01. Volumetric modular technology is precision and highly automated. Courtesy TopHat 02. LaunchPad has been a hugely successful model. Courtesy Bristol Housing Festival





The focus on offsite construction has sharpened throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with many wondering whether the outbreak and the consequential delays to existing construction projects would propel offsite forward as the future of construction. compromise allowing companies in financial difficulty (or their creditors, shareholders or members) to apply to the court to restructure their debt. Although these new options may assist financially struggling contractors and MMC suppliers in rescuing their businesses, it is the loss of the right to terminate a supply contract for customer insolvency which is of more interest. The Right to Terminate an MMC Supply Contract Broadly speaking, the CIGA restrictions on terminating a contract apply when a supplier is providing goods or services to a company, and that company enters into insolvency proceedings (with limited exceptions). In this case, assuming CIGA applies, the supplier cannot:

1 But there has not been as much focus on a more immediate change and challenge for modern methods of construction (MMC) brought about by the new Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (CIGA) which came into force in late June 2020. Intended to protect the UK manufacturing industry in a tough economic environment, it has caught some in the construction sector unawares and left others wondering how it fits with the Construction Act. CIGA in Brief CIGA brings about the biggest change to insolvency legislation in 20 years. From a construction industry point of view, the main things to be aware of are that: it has introduced two new


restructuring ‘tools, and it disapplies a supplier's right to terminate under its contract terms if the company it is supplying to enters into insolvency proceedings (with limited exceptions). Significantly, it applies retrospectively to contracts already in place. The two new restructuring ‘tools’ introduced by CIGA are: a new moratorium on enforcement action, and a new ‘restructuring plan’ process. The moratorium is a new standalone insolvency procedure which enables a company in financial difficulty to obtain some ‘breathing space’ (i.e. protection from creditor action) to restructure its liabilities - similar to the US's Chapter 11. The new restructuring plan process is a flexible restructuring

• Terminate the contract due to the company entering into insolvency proceedings (whether termination arises automatically, or whether the supplier has to exercise a right to terminate, under the contract's terms) • Terminate the contract because of a contractual right that arose before the company’s insolvency (unless the supplier terminates before the company enters into insolvency proceedings) • Say that it will only continue to supply the goods and services if the company pays all or any outstanding amounts for supplies made before the company's insolvency proceedings. So, for contractors on projects involving MMC and for suppliers of MMC products, if the company they are supplying to enters into insolvency proceedings then they cannot terminate the contract (save for the exception on the next page), they will


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2 rank as an unsecured creditor for any unpaid invoices and will still need to continue to supply to that company – although they are entitled to payment for that ongoing supply and their creditor status for the ongoing supply will move up the creditor chain. Termination may still be possible in certain circumstances – CIGA does allow termination e.g. if the administrator or liquidator consents or if the court grants permission but this is new territory for everyone concerned. To illustrate an example. A supplier has manufactured a product, delivered it to site, raised the invoice only to find that the main contractor to whom they are supplying has entered into the moratorium. The supplier cannot terminate their contract with the contractor, they will rank as an unsecured creditor for the goods already supplied and unpaid for, and they are obliged to continue to supply further goods under the contract albeit with payment. Seems tough on the supplier but what about protection under the Construction Act and the right to suspend for non-payment? The answer at the moment is that no one is entirely sure. Our view is that the right to suspend is lost once the contractor enters into the moratorium or administration but we await a court decision to ratify that.



What can MMC Product Suppliers Do To Protect Themselves? For contractors on projects involving MMC and suppliers of MMC products, some key things to think about may be:

• Updating their contracts so that the definition of or references to ‘insolvency’ include the two new CIGA insolvency proceedings • Reducing payment periods to reduce financial exposure, particularly if the supply contract is short but high value • Asking for advance payments on larger items supplied (although the company may request an advance payment bond) • Using project bank accounts or escrow accounts, to protect the pot of money allocated to the supply contract • Considering the termination rights in their contract, to allow for earlier termination where possible (e.g. if the other party's credit rating drops below an agreed threshold) • In the event of payment problems, reviewing the contract early so that any termination rights can be considered early and before the company enters into insolvency proceedings (at which point CIGA’s restrictions on termination will apply) • Exploring credit insurance.

4 Of course, whether any of these or other steps can be taken will very much depend on the circumstances, such as the nature and value of the supply, and the bargaining power of and commercial relationship between the parties to the contract. It may be that the main thing that contractors and suppliers can do is keep an eye open for any warning signs around a company’s solvency, and to seek advice quickly if they have any concerns. For more information visit: Images: 01-04. The new Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (CIGA) is intended to protect the UK manufacturing industry in a tough economic environment



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1 Fusion’s ‘Product rather than Project’ thinking helped deliver the University of Sussex East Slopes Residences project – one of the single largest, successful offsite construction projects of its kind in the UK. Balfour Beatty engaged Fusion at the concept stage of the University of Sussex East Slopes’ Residences project some three years before work started on-site, having previously worked together on a large student accommodation project for the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Sequenced over five phases to deliver 29 blocks in 86 weeks and on a very tight and sloping site, the project required detailed planning for all parties. In order to optimise build speed and reduce site-based risks, Fusion invested in additional storage facilities to provide ‘just in time’ deliveries and worked with Balfour Beatty on their excellent decision to build a prototype unit on-site, helping identify issues which might not have been clear in the digital environment. The ground conditions for this site were extremely challenging. Working on a slope which at its steepest had a gradient of 1:6, the use of light steel meant less weight was being placed on the foundations – achieving success where many other build methods would have failed. Alsecco brick slip cladding was fixed to the external


walls of our structure to create accommodation which would be extremely thermally efficient. U-values targets and low linear bridging were achieved and the completed structure was extremely airtight. The external wall build-up of each structure, which incorporated mineral wool and a sheathing board in front of the Fusion frame, also had a robust fire resistance – something which was further enhanced by the absence of a cavity. As always with steel, the structure will suffer very little movement, and therefore no need to repair any resulting cracks. The Balfour Beatty team was keen to learn about Fusion system and as a result, supply chain integration workshop meetings were held regularly, with all trades involved. Balfour also appreciated the scale of this project meant it was a risk to supply chain partners, with many of them SMEs. The construction of Balfour’s prototype unit enabled the validation of the build principals. This was used during the build phase as a workshop facility and later as a marketing suite. Fusion’s design team held bi-weekly meetings with architects and Balfour’s design team to ensure every last detail was discussed and mutual decisions reached. Fusion manufactured its frames three months in advance of when they were needed – this maximised flexibility on the build and helped to minimise risk. Finally, with up to five blocks running concurrently, Fusion’s fast rate of build,

2 pre-construction planning and absolute supply chain integration meant they delivered on-time and on-budget. “East Slopes has been a resounding success and for that outcome, we have to thank the fantastic interaction and collaboration of all trades working on the project,” said Geoff Grant, Project Director for Balfour Beatty UK Construction Services. “The ability to continuously improve as the build progressed through the numerous blocks benefitted by having Fusion’s light steel frame system at the core. And, while we were all on a learning curve together, it was the communication and mutual respect evident throughout the project teams which meant challenges could be overcome and improvements seamlessly introduced. Fusion’s system was the right choice for Sussex and their team had the right personnel for its delivery. I’m extraordinarily proud of what we’ve achieved so far and as Balfour Beatty continues to place investment in offsite methods of construction, I’m confident Fusion will be one our partners for many years to come.” For more information visit: Images: 01-02. Light steel frame proved to be a perfect solution on a very tight and sloping site.
















A K in t rr M he iv ar al ke t




The McAvoy Group used offsite methods to deliver a £15million contract for the construction of a new wing at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, with the 6,500sq m three-storey building having to integrate seamlessly with the existing hospital.

1 Northumbria Healthcare had previous experience of modular construction on other sites and fully appreciated how the speed of offsite manufacture can impact positively on patient care. The Trust had established a clinical need for a purpose-designed ambulatory care facility to help decompress a very busy emergency department and ensure patients are seen quickly by the most appropriate healthcare professional.

the Trust’s stringent quality standards. The new wing was constructed using an advanced offsite solution and featured a number of innovations. It used larger, bespoke modules up to 14.85m long, specially engineered to provide a structural flooring solution that seamlessly integrated with the existing building. This met the key requirement for efficient patient flows, removing the need for ramps and steps.

This was a highly complex project on a live hospital site that pushed the boundaries of offsite construction. McAvoy integrated the new wing with the design of the existing traditionally-built hospital and used offsite construction to reduce the build programme by 50% to less than 12 months. This helped the Trust to meet the rising demand for acute patient services. The approach achieved exceptional value for money and met

The first floor was fitted out as part of this contract to accommodate one of the UK’s first purpose-designed ambulatory care units, with the other two floors fitted out in the next phase of the development. McAvoy developed a hybrid solution which incorporated both offsite and in-situ building methods and maximised fit-out in the factory to enhance quality and reduce disruption to patient care.


The ambulatory care unit provides medical, surgical and gynaecology care and a fracture clinic in a relaxed environment. It allows up to 150 patients to be treated the same day across four specialisms without the need for hospital admission. This has helped to decongest the emergency department, allowing patients to be seen by the most appropriate clinician earlier and offering an enhanced service to the community. The larger, bespoke modules, engineered to provide a structural flooring solution seamlessly integrate with the existing building. This met the key requirement for efficient patient flows, removing the need for ramps and steps. Mechanical ventilation, heating and cooling systems were installed in the ceiling voids in the factory – an industry first in the healthcare sector.


HEALTHCARE The new wing replicated the appearance of the existing hospital which opened in 2015. It has a faceted external facade to create curved ends to the wing and is finished in blue and white render. This hybrid construction solution has a three-storey offsite structure with an in-situ built curved link on each floor, a roof-top plant room and full-height stair towers. It complies with all relevant HTM and HBN requirements. P+HS Architects assessed the clinical flows with the user group to produce a schedule of accommodation before developing the detailed design. Planning was achieved soon after, and McAvoy started foundations at the same time as the manufacture of the building structure began at the McAvoy factory. James Almond, Director, P+HS says: “This project is unprecedented in its scale and complexity, delivered in such a short timescale. We estimate it would have taken around 18 months onsite to build this traditionally. With an innovative offsite solution and a completely focused client, design and delivery team, it was operational nine months earlier and well ahead of the busy winter period. This speed of construction was a critical benefit to the Trust – ensuring less on-site disruption to patient care, reduced waiting times, and a faster return on investment.” Flexibility for future growth had to be designed into the project from the outset. The facilities are constructed around a central corridor to which a further wing can be added at a later date if required, mirroring the recent construction. The internal space was also designed to accommodate changing needs. The roof was structured to allow a light well to be constructed in the future to bring light deep into the upper floor of the building, creating greater flexibility in the range of options for this space. This would allow more external wall area and natural light for an additional ward if required. The plant room was sized to accommodate two further air handling units for when the two other floors of the new wing are fitted out in the next phase, meeting the future demands of the building. The facility was designed collaboratively with stakeholders via a clinical user group led by P+HS and


3 made up of around 25 healthcare professionals – clinicians, nurses and facilities/estates managers, who met weekly to develop the design. The users also visited the McAvoy factory to view the building in manufacture. Dr Eliot Sykes, Clinical Director, says: “Users were engaged from the outset and had the freedom to express their views on the design development. The building was clinically designed and led and there was fantastic collaboration

and engagement across the clinical, estates, design, and construction teams. This strong relationship at every level was key to the project’s success.” For more information visit:

Images: 01-03. This was a highly complex project on a live hospital site that pushed the boundaries of offsite construction. Courtesy McAvoy Group






1 Hewitt Studios have repurposed a collection of ageing post-war buildings as a sustainable new visitor Experience Centre for the Morgan Motor Company in Malvern, England with timber as the perfect solution. Hewitt Studios were invited by the Morgan Motor Company to reimagine their ageing cafe, museum and showroom spaces as an exciting new £1.8million visitor Experience Centre. The Morgan Motor Company has been making cars on the same site in Malvern England since 1914, employing generations of local craftsman to construct their cars from three reusable and recyclable core elements: ash timber, aluminium and leather. Consistent with a brand that prides itself on ethical sourcing, natural materials, local craftsmanship and a long-lived legacy, the solution had a strong focus on sustainability – a series of low-carbon buildings designed to improve building thermal performance, increase natural daylight, reduce energy consumption, reduce surface water run-off and provide for end-oflife recycling of materials. The three new buildings all utilise prefabricated, modular timber structures which relate to the historic ash construction of the Morgan body frame. Moreover, they actually all utilise the same inexpensive, off-the-shelf industrial product (Metsä Wood Kerto LVL), which has been


manipulated in a number of different ways to achieve a variety of different outcomes. The building is also partly constructed using local materials, including cedar from local forests. This strategy of using a single conventional product in a number of unconventional ways delivers terrific value for Morgan, creating the impression of an expensive bespoke outcome using readily available ‘stock’ timber sections. It also creates an important legacy for the site, employing sustainably-sourced timber detailed to enable easy dismantling for re-use and/or recycling at the end of the structure’s life. Timber is also used extensively for cladding, with easily recyclable aluminium flashings and cladding panels employed in critical weathering locations as a reference to Morgan’s chosen panel material, and that of its latest chassis. The result is a dramatic transformation of the site. The refurbished Experience Centre has a greatly reduced energy requirement, due in part to the choice of timber structure. This project has been delivered in a short window (effectively six months, allowing for a two month COVID-19 related shutdown). Morgan were instrumental in the choice of offsite timber technologies as they wanted the project to be undertaken as quickly and as safely as possible and saw prefabrication as the solution to this. As a car manufacturer they are accustomed to efficient production methods (e.g. zero-waste, just in time,

2 etc.) and very much wanted this project to adopt a similar approach on this project. The innovative offsite approach (seldom employed on refurbishment projects like this) has resulted in a significantly accelerated and de-risked construction process, delivering significant benefit for the client on a busy site which has remained operational throughout the process. The rapid assembly of the LVL frames quickly created dry workshop conditions on site, enabling trades to work safely undercover from the earliest possible opportunity. The timber structure also meant that no dangerous site welding was required, only simple bolted connections. The prefabricated timber frame and aluminium flashings meant that site waste was minimised, with the other main materials (e.g. plywood cladding, acoustic panels, polycarbonate, etc.) utilised in standard modules to reduce cutting waste. Maintenance requirements for the Morgan estate have been significantly reduced through the project. For more information visit: Images: 01-02. Consistent with a brand that prides itself on ethical sourcing, natural materials and local craftsmanship the solution had a strong focus on precision and sustainability. Courtesy Morgan Motor Company/Hewitt Studios LLP


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Although BoKlok may be an unfamiliar brand name in the UK, its joint owners Skanska and IKEA are familiar faces to most of us. As Graeme Culliton, BoKlok Managing Director and Country Manager told us, things are about to change.

1 BoKlok has huge experience in developing and manufacturing homes in the Nordic region and to date has developed around 12,000 homes in Sweden, Finland and Norway. The homebuilding joint venture sees homes built primarily from timber, using a smart, industrialised factory process. The homes are completed offsite in a safe and dry precision environment enabling high-quality and predictable costs. It is now aiming to set new customer satisfaction standards in the UK market. What drew it to the UK and what can Swedish expertise deliver to the UK housing market? “Simply put the need for low cost home ownership in the UK and the opportunity to make a difference,” says Graeme. “We have been delivering this model in the


2 Nordics for 20 years. Our experience in delivering modular homes is derived from the fact we own our own factory but also manufacture homes with manufacturing partners. The need for modern methods of construction (MMC) and the support from central and local government was also key to knowing this was the right time for this.” How does Skanska and IKEA work together to create this housing model and the wide and potentially endless customer interior requirements? “IKEA understand how people live, great design and industrialisation,” says Graeme. “Skanska understand construction, logistics and development. Together a powerful combination. Both organisations have high ambitions and achievements

in sustainability. Together all this drives the way we think about our customer, the homes we design but also delivering a low cost home. All our homes have an IKEA kitchen as standard, but customers can also work on their own interior design with IKEA, if they choose. This is part of our sales process.” The system is a volumetric timber system involved with most of the timber sourced from Sweden and Finland. BoKlok has worked closely with NHBC and BOPAS (Building Offsite Property Assurance Scheme) to ensure compliance with UK regulations and requirements. A panellised system was never considered. “It’s what we know and we know it works,” says Graeme.


Abraham Darby Academy, architects BDP; photography: David Barbour

Last year, the Committee on Climate Change stated: “Using wood in construction to displace high-carbon materials such as cement and steel is one of the most effective ways to use limited biomass resources to mitigate climate change.” Using timber contributes to reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere in three ways: • by carbon capture in the growing forest carbon sink • by carbon capture in the increasing wood product carbon store • by substitution for CO2-intensive materials. Wood CO2ts less is a new campaign for the timber industry. Using wood from sustainably-managed forests instead of other materials is a good way to reduce CO2 emissions. For more information visit Wood CO2ts less is a collective mark of Wood for Good Ltd.


3 To help deliver part of its first product offering in the UK, BoKlok has appointed technology-driven modular housing manufacturer TopHat on a five-year contract. This will see TopHat work with BoKlok to manufacture two and three-bedroom houses.

“We are delighted to be working with TopHat, says Graeme. “We share the same ambition to bring innovation and sustainability to the UK housing market, which means attractive and good quality homes for people on average incomes. Our two companies complement one another well, with TopHat bringing its high levels of automated manufacturing expertise. As we venture into the UK, we believe that TopHat will contribute to our long-term vision and success, to provide quality, low-cost homes, using sustainable materials and modern methods of construction.”


4 TopHat is a technology-driven modular housing manufacturer, aiming to revolutionise the digital construction industry, from housebuilding to commercial property. Founded in 2016 and commencing production in early 2018 at its state-of-theart manufacturing facility in South Derbyshire, this offers a huge opportunity to boost the profile of volumetric timber homes. “We wanted a UK supplier and because timber is at the heart of our business, as the most sustainable building product, they were at the top of the list. Once we engaged with TopHat we could see that they shared our values and had invested significantly in their manufacturing facility. It was the most

advanced that we saw in the UK by some way. We also met with their investors and could see a commitment for the long term.” “Modular housebuilding will be central to addressing the UK’s housing crisis by providing modern, desirable and connected housing far more quickly than traditional methods,” says Kate Davies, Non-Executive Director of TopHat. “TopHat is in a strong position to lead the sector. Not only does its technology and manufacturing platform enable TopHat to produce homes of outstanding quality at low cost, but also its approach to design reshapes perceptions of what modular homes look like and feel like to live in.”


STRUCTURAL TIMBER The first BoKlok community will be in Bristol at Airport Road. Bristol City Council, who owns the site, has committed to pursuing the development of this partnership with BoKlok as part of the five-year Bristol Housing Festival which is trialling innovative offsite housing solutions across the city. Jez Sweetland, Bristol Housing Festival’s Project Director, said: “The festival is all about reimagining new and better ways to live in our cities. BoKlok provide creative solutions with a fantastic track record of creating great homes and strong communities, we are really thrilled to be working with them.” The proposed development will consist of 173 homes – 77 two-storey houses and 96 flats built under the BoKlok brand. “BoKlok have been working with Bristol Council and the Housing Festival for the past two years, says Graeme. “They are fantastic partners to work with and we share the vision for the city in providing great sustainable homes for people that really need it. This made our decision to focus within the South West a very easy one, when we planned the launch of the business. We expect to start work at Airport Rd in Bristol by the end of the year. First sales will be in Spring/Summer of 2021. We now have six sites across the south of the UK in various stages of development.

“Broadly our homes will be delivered in half the time of traditional forms of construction. Our ambition is to bring zero carbon homes to UK a lot quicker than 30 years. Our building system and design makes a big step toward zero carbon, but we will move our focus to this once we have delivered our first developments and timber is an essential part of achieving our carbon targets.” For more information visit: Images: 01. Graeme Culliton, Managing Director and Country Manager, BoKlok 02-05. Planned developments will provide a range of housing options with timber at the core of the design

5 NHBC WELCOMES BOKLOK TO ITS NEW MMC ACCEPTANCE SCHEME NHBC has announced that BoKlok’s volumetric timber frame system – BoKlok Flex UK – has been officially welcomed to NHBC Accepts. NHBC Accepts is as allinclusive, end-to-end service launched this summer, that will help to build confidence in innovative construction and enable MMC systems to be fast-tracked for NHBC warranty. NHBC’s, Innovation Manager, Richard Lankshear said: “Following a thorough review process we are delighted to welcome BoKlok to NHBC Accepts. An NHBC Accepts certificate is a way of demonstrating that innovative products or systems have already been reviewed by NHBC thus reducing the risk of delays on-site. NHBC Accepts will play a critical role in ensuring developers, manufacturers, lenders and consumers have faith and confidence in MMC quality as the industry delivers more innovative new homes for the country.” As part of the new service, a detailed and robust technical review at key stages has resulted in the provision of a certificate (and acceptance for NHBC warranty), usage licence for a bespoke NHBC Accepts logo and listing on the NHBC Accepts web pages alongside other accepted systems. Noel Sheehan, BoKlok Housing Director adds: “We are very pleased to have been given a seal of approval for NHBC Accepts. We use quality materials and build with well-proven methods to ensure sustainable homes. We hope that this additional accreditation will provide further confidence in our home development to our customers and the wider industry.”





B&K Structures helped transform a former naval hospital in a UNESCO World Heritage Site into the Dreadnought Building at the University of Greenwich – a major project showcasing what engineered timber can achieve.

1 B&K Structures were part of the team that sensitively restored the Grade II listed building by stripping it back and modernising it, ready for its role at the heart of the University. The Dreadnought building retains its character and sense of history while also providing a state-of-theart hub, creating learning and gym facilities and a 500-person capacity bar, together with teaching and social spaces. The project required the refurbishment of the existing building, together with a new PEFC-certified infill structure to the courtyard comprising visible grade cross laminated timber (CLT) floor panels to the first and second mezzanine floor levels. At roof level, the design specified a combination of white wood spruce glulam beams and insulated timber roof cassettes.


Attended by 2,000 students, the Dreadnought Building provides a home for the Students’ Union and Student & Academic Services at the heart of campus life. Within the complex, the new University Library, School of Architecture and Construction buildings are arranged as a series of ‘fingers’, separated with open light-wells to fill the buildings with daylight. Collaborating with five delivery partners to ensure a right- first-time approach, B&K Structures undertook design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) workshops, using video conferencing for overseas partners. The key focus was to ensure clarity of design and detailing to eliminate errors from the delivery and installation processes, which had to work within the confines of a restricted site.

B&K Structures carried out digital surveys on the existing structure to facilitate the accurate design and manufacture of the replacement structural steel frame within the refurbished section of the build. BIM and factory tolerances enabled B&K Structures to infill the existing courtyard area with a multi-storey structural steel frame with cross laminated timber floor decks, glulam beams and insulated timber roof cassettes. Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) files were extracted from the Building information modelling (BIM) model and imported directly into computer numerical control (CNC) production machinery to eliminate the potential for any errors and guarantee manufacturing accuracy. Designs were optimised and tested in a virtual, pre-production environment before reaching the full manufacturing process to ensure optimal quality.



2 Using offsite construction methods reduced the need to work at height, improving onsite health and safety, as the majority of the manufacture was carried out in well-managed factory conditions under OHSAS 18001 – a British Standard for occupational health and safety management. Offsite construction also eliminated weather delays, enabled simultaneous processes and minimised onsite disruption. The design of the building targets both sustainability and energy efficiency through the material selection of timber. The timber systems contribute to thermal and acoustic insulation, and the structure locks carbon within its fabric, an intrinsically sustainable and modern approach to construction that produces highquality, high-performance buildings. CLT offers high strength-to-weight ratios that, in many cases, equal those of reinforced concrete. Cross laminated timber panels and glulam beams provide high levels of strength throughout the structure, both inplane, resisting sheer forces and carrying loads. The infill structure comprises 811sq m of CLT visible grade floor panels to the first and second mezzanine floor level. At roof level, 57 cubic metres of white wood spruce glulam beams and 570sq m of insulated timber roof cassettes are joined to 70m of timber packers to fix to the top flange of the steelwork to the timber roof cassette connections. The tops to the building comprise a series of accessible green roofs with soil depths of as much as 600mm, which will be used for seminars and research. Versatile roofing cassettes can be specifically adapted to meet various physical and loadbearing requirements. Detailed research positively contributes to building physics, ensuring that actual onsite performance meets design expectations. The structure consists



of loadbearing timber ribs, thermal insulation, clad top and bottom. The moisture-adaptive vapour barrier ensures the desired performance of the building can be achieved. The roofing cassettes were supplied with factory-fitted external coverings, which were finished and sealed onsite. Roofing elements are therefore fully functional – loadbearing and watertight when fitted – making installation less weather-dependent, allowing subsequent interior fitting works to start sooner and supporting rapid building envelope construction. Versatile roofing cassettes can be specifically adapted to meet various physical and loadbearing requirements. Detailed research positively contributes to building physics, ensuring that actual onsite performance meets design expectations. The structure consists of loadbearing timber ribs, thermal insulation, clad top and bottom. The moisture-adaptive vapour barrier ensures the desired performance of the building can be achieved. The roofing cassettes were supplied with factory-fitted external coverings, which were finished and sealed onsite. Roofing elements are therefore fully functional – loadbearing and watertight when fitted – making installation less weather-dependent, allowing subsequent interior fitting works to start sooner and supporting rapid building envelope construction. Both the installation of the prefabricated CLT and timber cassettes and subsequent works are easier, quieter and safer than traditional construction methods, reducing or completely avoiding wet trades and reducing the number of personnel required to erect the superstructure by around 70%. The use of engineered timber systems also reduces snagging and the ongoing maintenance of the building.

5 Typically, the overall construction of a CLT scheme will be 20% faster than an equivalent scheme using reinforced concrete. This time saving is not only the result of the speed at which the pre-fabricated elements of CLT and timber cassettes are erected, but of the significant time savings in the later stages of construction. These gains are principally achieved through the accuracy of the finished structure, the structural stability, concurrent working and the ease of fastening into timber. As Professor David Maguire, Vice Chancellor, Greenwich University said: “Dreadnought is a great addition to our university. We wanted to create a sustainable space which provided a focal point for the campus. Dreadnought means ‘fear nothing’ and I think that’s a good motto for our students and staff.” For more information visit: Images: 01-05. The Dreadnought Building used a range of engineered timber solutions to create a superb healthy learning environment. Courtesy B&K Structures





We must harness the power of offsite to build back better, says Mark Davis, Acting Head of Partnerships and Communications at Public Sector Plc, if modular homes are to increase the quantity and quality of new homes and help to save the planet. metropolitan, London boroughs, district – have declared a climate emergency – making it one of the fastest growing political movements of all time. Some local authorities have gone further than this and declared dates by which they will become zero carbon.

1 As we head into the darkness of winter and batten down the hatches to cope with a second wave of COVID-19 it is crucial that we all remain focused on turning the devastating experience of the Coronavirus crisis into something positive. While COVID-19 has cast a shadow on all of our lives, it has shone a light on some of Britain’s biggest challenges: the housing crisis and the climate crisis. For millions of families the experience of lockdown has highlighted the problems caused by living in Britain’s old, cold, draughty housing stock – something which will be exacerbated by the second national lockdown in November. And while CO2 emissions fell by almost a fifth (17%) in April during the lockdown they quickly recovered. At the same time, regions around the world such as California and Siberia have recorded their worst year for forest fires with millions of acres of habitat lost. Globally, between 2030 and 2050, the World Health


Organisation expects climate change to cause 250,000 additional deaths per year. According to the UK Green Building Council the built environment contributes 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint.

Others like Greater Manchester Combined Authority have gone further still by pledging to make all new buildings net zero carbon by 2028. As one of the pioneers of the Build Back Better movement the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has said: “There is a need to reimagine town centres being residential centres, rather than retail centres. I can see a new future for our proud outlying towns that is one of modern, possibly modular, affordable housing more closely connected to public transport, and with excellent digital infrastructure.”

When it comes to housing it’s so difficult to fathom that something which provides us with protection and shelter is so damaging for the environment. Current construction methods contribute significantly to carbon emissions during the construction process. And then also again during occupation as traditionally built homes require more energy to heat.

The adoption of offsite construction is crucial if we are going to help our councils and national government to reach our targets to reduce carbon emissions. Modular construction is also crucial if we are going to meet the target to build 300,000 new homes a year in England. The Government has made clear that it will not cut its target to build 300,000 homes a year. Furthermore, this Government has made it clear that offsite is integral to meeting this target.

In 2019 the UK became the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by 2050 and bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero. While climate change is a global challenge the solutions to this problem are local. As of October this year, almost three-quarters (74%) of the UK’s principal authorities – county, unitary,

In September, Homes England announced that any deals signed with housing associations as part of its new £11.5billion Affordable Housing Programme must commit to modern methods of construction to build out at least 25% of their pipeline. Britain’s housing crisis is an industrial scale problem and as such it requires a scalable manufacturing solution where


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LOW CARBON DESIGN long-term. Carbon neutral homes also enable families to save hundreds of pounds a year on energy bills. Creating a new generation of low carbon homes creates win-wins for local authorities, taxpayers, local residents and the environment.

2 new homes are built in factories rather than the current predominant batch production model.

the late 1970s over the past decade local authorities have averaged 1,500 homes a year.

Manufacturing precision engineered homes in a factory, rather than building homes in rain, wind and snow in a field, enables us to create better quality energy efficient housing and also empowers us to deliver more homes more quickly. Councils have a key role to play in this. Having built more than 100,000 new homes per year up until

By taking the lead on housing development, councils can lead the charge on building back better by bringing forward much-needed housing more quickly, control the speed, type, quality and tenure mix of developments and potentially retain ownership of their land assets if they hold the housing stock for the

While the COVID-19 crisis presents us with unprecedented challenges it also creates an opportunity for us all to build back better. That’s why we partnered with NetZero Buildings to develop a net zero carbon housing offer designed for our Council and Housing Association partners and recently started on-site with our first zero carbon family housing development in Kent. Let’s harness our collective experience of COVIS-19 and work together to make sure that it happens. For more information visit:

Images: 01-02. Net Zero neighbourhoods will increasingly be part of future housing plans

NET ZERO FOR SITTINGBOURNE Work has begun on Kent’s new zero carbon neighbourhood. The new development of six high-quality, zero carbon, family homes for rent, will transform vacant land in Oak Road, Sittingbourne in to one of the most energy-efficient housing schemes in the country. The homes are being delivered by Public Sector Plc in partnership with NetZero Buildings. The new all-electric modular homes in Sittingbourne are able to achieve carbon neutrality thanks to their airtight, well-insulated walls and will feature photovoltaic solar roof panels, to enable the properties to generate their own electricity. They also have hot water heated by an air source heat pump to further reduce electricity consumption. Homes England have provided debt finance to part-fund the development, which is due to be completed by the end of January 2021. Adam Cunnington, CEO of Public Sector Plc, said: “As we all begin the economic recovery from COVID-19 we are extremely excited about delivering Kent’s new zero carbon neighbourhood. Our country not only faces a crisis in the quantity of homes but also the quality, as well as a global climate emergency. We’re proud to be leading the way with a new generation of housing which helps to tackle these problems.” From its factory in Cambridge, NetZero Buildings has pioneered the production of true net zero carbon and energy positive buildings in Britain over the past six years. Steve Murphy, CEO of NetZero Buildings, said: “This industry-leading housing scheme in Kent is a landmark development for NetZero Buildings. We are incredibly proud to be delivering our first housing development, which will create one of the most energy-efficient neighbourhoods in England. We can’t wait for the first residents to move in and experience the benefits of living in a warm, modern, comfortable zero carbon home which costs very little money to heat.” Julian Lockwood, Director at Pozzoni Architecture, added: “After so much disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re delighted to be moving forward with this revolutionary new housing project in partnership with Public Sector Plc and NetZero Buildings. As well as being manufactured with greater efficiency, Oak Road’s new homes will also be incredibly energy-efficient – helping residents reduce their carbon footprint and keeping running costs low for years to come. With local and central government renewing their commitments to environmental sustainability in the wake of COVID-19, we see modern methods of construction playing an increasingly pivotal role in delivering high-quality new housing at the necessary speed and scale.”



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As the united voice representing the sector, the Modular and Portable Building Association (MPBA) offers valuable industry insight, guidance and ongoing research to significantly improve the volumetric modular building process.

BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP Raising Industry Profile Through Strategic Marketing Quality Training and Knowledge Transfer Access to Learning Hub FREE Health & Safety Guidance and Support FREE Technical Advice FREE Employment and Law Services FREE Industry and Legislative Updates

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Kingston University Town house is a stunning six storey mixeduse teaching building that offers a vibrant new face to the University. It is formed with a structural precast concrete frame and has been designed to encourage collaboration and exchange by student and general public users.

1 The building is formed with a structural precast concrete frame taking the form of a series of interlocking, open-plan volumes enveloped by a façade of colonnades, all with extensive exposed internal and external high quality concrete finishes. Designed by Grafton Architects the BREEAM Excellent rated building used PCE’s HybriDfMA bespoke system that proved to be versatile and successful in achieving the client's high expectations. PCE was appointed as specialist structural frame contractor responsible for the detailed design, manufacture and construction of the circa £8million structural package. A fully co-ordinated building information management (BIM) approach, to BIM Level II protocols was adopted by PCE and the other parties with special emphasis being placed on pursuing a design for manufacture and assembly


approach (DfMA) to enable certainty of the hybrid structural component construction. The internal structure of the building provides a threedimensional matrix, one singular complex space, which links the various required uses to one another, while at the same time giving each its own identity and privacy. Externally the façade is made up of an open undercroft colonnade at ground floor to invite public use and activity, above which three cascading terraces form hanging gardens giving a sense of landscape connecting from ground level to the top of the building. PCE’s HybriDfMA expertise using a mix of structural and architectural precast and insitu concrete, together with structural steelwork, enabled the longspan requirements for such an ‘open’ building, some in excess of 15 metres, to be easily accommodated, as well

as high quality finishes without the requirement for extensive following trades, and incorporation into the structure of an embedded pipework system to provide thermal control of the internal environment using concrete’s thermal storage abilities. The majority of the structure was completely exposed, utilising the exposed concrete soffits and the thermal mass of the building as part of the heating and ventilation strategy along with expressing the majority of the vertical structure as part of the internal finishes. This was complemented externally with a reconstructed stone facade and structural colonnade with exposed walkway slabs and feature stairs. The internal structure was constructed from precast concrete columns and core walls providing the vertical











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3 structure and stability system, precast concrete beams which linked the columns together to create a frame and to provide support for long span prestressed Double Tee slabs to create the floor plate. Double Tee slabs span up to 16.0m and carry imposed loads up to 20kN/m2 over a central auditorium and a fully height atrium with composite feature stairs spanning up to 15.0m. The colonnade was configured from a series of structural precast concrete columns, precast concrete beams (including planters) and precast concrete walkway slabs which create the external accessible spaces to the colonnade. Rainwater goods, lighting and trace heating services were all embedded within the precast elements. Key to the concept was the utilisation of the structure and the concrete surfaces as a major part of the


4 architectural intent and finishes. Whilst the structural design is extremely efficient in terms of material usage versus span arrangements and load carrying capability, the use of high quality precast concrete elements to create the concrete superstructure and colonnade has allowed the minimisation of additional finishes and materials to cover the structure and the optimisation of the structures thermal mass as part of the heating and ventilation strategy. Utilisation of hybrid technology and the ability to call on the capacity of a number of different specialist suppliers enabled control of programme, cost and quality. The early access to product to allow quality benchmarking to be agreed with the client and architect provided a surety and a clear understanding of the expectations to be shared across the supply chain. The ability to choose the right product in different situations in order to achieve the desired outcome was key to controlling the budget. The structural frame and colonnade incorporating over 1,900 individual precast concrete units using over 4,500 cubic metres of concrete, and a further 1,000 cubic metres of insitu reinforced concrete was constructed onsite in just a 40 week construction period using two tower cranes and a highly trained multi-disciplinary site workforce of only 25 PCE personnel. High strength concrete was used in the precast concrete columns and

beams allowing section sizes to optimised which, along with the use of the ribbed Double Tee slab system minimised material usage overall. Sustainability calculations following project completion show that for offsite manufactured precast concrete units, which accounted for over 85% of structural components delivered, the CO2 footprint that was less than 180Kg of CO2/m² for the total building floor area. The precast hybrid frame strategy removed the need for back propping, formwork and most site reinforcement which significantly reduced vehicle movements to site along with waste reduction. This combined with the exposed concrete resulted in significant reductions in additional finishes like plasterboard, blockwork and partition framing again resulting in significant vehicle movement reductions site waste. Professor Steven Spier, Vice Chancellor of Kingston University commented: “I’m delighted that with Town House, everyone who visits, studies in, and works at Kingston University now has access to a beautiful and inviting space in which to learn, socialise and just be.” For more information visit: Images: 01-04. PCE’s HybriDfMA expertise used a mix of structural and architectural precast and insitu concrete, together with structural steelwork. Courtesy PCE Ltd.


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2 New ways of modelling and advances in manufacturing techniques are bringing designers much closer to the fabrication and assembly of buildings. This change is evident at The Gantry, a series of 23 mass custom-built artist studios housed in a truly unusual structure. The structure is a London Olympic legacy product – a 240m long steel frame previously containing ventilation equipment for the Broadcast Centre studios behind. It was originally slated for removal following the Games. Rather than demolish this striking construction, architects Hawkins Brown saw potential in its ultra-rational grid and opportunities to insert objects onto its enormous decks. Twenty-one individual artist studios in a chequerboard pattern plug into walkways running down the Gantry’s central spine. Over recent decades technology has enabled manufacturing to diversify away from large scale mass standardisation towards a network of small-scale makers. 64

These makers use digital tech alongside advanced manufacturing machines to rapidly prototype and customise products in a way not previously possible for small companies and individuals. WikiHouse is an open source design and construction toolkit that harnesses these changes for the building industry. It uses a standardised kit of parts but enables a high degree of customisation in size, shape, openings, cladding and plug + play equipment. With its focus on innovative technology and ability to create varied character, it was a perfect fit for the Gantry artist studios. Hawkins Brown worked with WikiHouse to adapt and innovate the open-source system so that it could better create bespoke, curious studios that reflect the makers, moments, inventions, and irregularities that shaped the local area. We worked together to develop and test a flexible parametric version of WikiHouse. In this design tool a user could easily alter parameters for a building (roof type, footprint, height, door and window locations and sizes, etc) and watch a 3D model regenerate itself live. The construction detail of the WikiHouse system was embedded into this software at concept design stage of the project and later formed the production information. Once Quality Assurance checked we were able to send data, in the form of cutting files, directly to the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines for fabrication offsite. Every joint and detail was embedded into this design model, effectively the entire construction system, and so new cutting files for the wiki-structure could be automatically regenerated, at the push of a button, with each design change. Once fabricated the timber elements were transported to site for assembly.

All WikiHouse innovations, including the software, are open source and made publicly available for anybody to use, adapt, and innovate further. Anticipating the artistic activity to come, each studio design embodies ideas of local production and creative thinking. Fully building regulations compliant, highly insulated, and airtight, internally the timber lined studios provide a tranquil, flexible space that artists can configure for their unique craft. The component nature of the WikiHouse system, designed so that each piece could be handled by one person, was such that the offsite fabricated elements could be transported in palettes into the goods lifts and assembled in-situ like building scale jigsaw puzzles. Each unit came with the uniquely coded parts and an Ikea-style guide to assist assembly. For the project brief the WikiHouse system seemed a perfect modular solution but lacked the ability to rapidly switch between unique forms and designs and then instantly produce cutting information. Adapting the WikiHouse toolkit into a parametric design tool enabled this, creating mass customisation across the 21 units and rapid output files for the CNC machines to fabricate. As such the perfect balance between using a single modular offsite solution yet achieving uniqueness and variety between the units was struck. Broadly the WikiHouse system is an ongoing R&D project. This has seen numerous prototypes developed over the past 10 years that have tested and trialled the design, fabrication, assembly and in-use performance of the system. The hope is that it is ‘hacked’ and improved every time an organisation uses it. For more information visit: Images: 01-02. The component nature of the WikiHouse system is designed so that each offsite fabricated element can be assembled in-situ like building scale jigsaw puzzles. Courtesy Hawkins Brown



THE EMPLOYMENT MARKET IS CHANGING We have seen many lose jobs during COVID-19, often through no fault of their own, says Jim Roach, Managing Director of offsite recruitment specialists, ARV Solutions. However, many more are now on the job market with some really strong people available immediately. When employers lay-off staff, or there is a threat of it, those most under threat cling on, and those most comfortable often take a choice to move forward with their career elsewhere. This is particularly the case, when they start seeing those laid-off gaining great new jobs elsewhere and realise they could do better for themselves.

payments well below full pay, and more who's hard won bonuses and commissions were lost. In many cases this is understandable where businesses have struggled, though when employers quote staff are their most important asset, but can't back it up when things get tough, this no longer rings true.

Another type of job seeker has sadly come about through lack of support from their employer during COVID-19 (whether real or perceived). We see significant numbers who were not treated or kept informed well, or what information they received was a corporate placebo rather than open and honest communication. There are many who received furlough

People have had time to think and reflect on life and what is important. Many are taking action to move on from the job they were happy to put up with, despite the security, or the high pay, to get a role that they can love, that challenges or gives increased responsibility or status. Prior to COVID-19 the candidate market was as tight as it has ever been in

over 20 years, with people staying put from uncertainty around Brexit and the economy. Those uncertainties have been completely eclipsed in the past few months by the pandemic and therefore hold less fear. What this also means, is that there are exceptionally strong candidates interested in a good move now, who were simply not approachable prior to the pandemic. It's a cliche but there has never been (in recent years) a better time to hire great talent. Our clients are now getting better shortlists, with closer matching skills, and not necessarily having to pay over the odds to get them. For more information visit:

ARVIEW from ARV Solutions We are proving you can have a higher quality, faster recruitment process for the same or a lower price - and it's from the market leading recruiters for Offsite / MMCs. We've taken a leap forward with ARVIEW incorporating pre-recorded first interviews saving weeks from your process, in a branded, secure and simple online portal. Wide reaching adver�sing, extended rebates, psychometric profiling, exclusivity to candidates and much more, expertly transforming the success of your recruitment strategy Get in touch today and reap the benefits of be�er recruitment!

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DATES FOR YOUR DIARY If you are interested in learning more about offsite construction and the associated manufacturing processes then the following industry events may be of interest: 27 Jan

Structural Timber Awards

Virtual Event

The 2020 Structural Timber Awards once again received hundreds of entries from companies who are at the forefront of the industry in terms of innovation and expertise. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Structural Timber Awards will be taking place online via a live, Virtual Awards Ceremony. Delegates can now register to take part FOC! 23 Mar

Climate Emergency Conference

Virtual Event

The UK is leading the world in effecting carbon reductions and has recently pledged to move to a net zero emissions target by 2050. So, the scene is set, and the challenge is clear – the UK needs to dramatically reduce the environmental impact of construction throughout the build process and beyond. The Climate Emergency Conference introduces critical approaches that will enable the industry to meet new construction standards. 11 May

Tall Buildings Conference

Venue to be confirmed

Tall buildings present unique challenges in terms of both design and construction. Their sheer scale demands that particular attention is paid simultaneously to strategic and detailed issues. The event is intended to assist engineers in understanding the common challenges associated with transferring standard engineering principles and knowledge from low-rise structures to tall buildings. 28 May

Offsite Awards Entry Deadline

Online Entry Platform

Entering the Offsite Construction Awards is FREE and allows the most innovative achievements in offsite to be upheld by the industry alongside those considered the nation's best. Being shortlisted for the Awards will earn recognition within the offsite and the wider construction industry - opening doors to securing new business development opportunities. 21-22 Sep



Offsite Expo

Ricoh Arena, Coventry

THE largest Offsite-dedicated event in the UK - OFFSITE EXPO - brings together those who are driving change in the construction sector. The event will play host to the leading offsite manufacturers and component suppliers over two days showcasing a broad spectrum of panelised, volumetric modular solutions, pod and prefabricated MEP solutions, as well as the latest in Digital and BIM technology.




All event information and schedules correct at the time of going to print - please check relevant websites for latest details.




Network with over 800 business leaders and high proďŹ le decision makers

To book your tickets, visit: IMAGE COURTESY OF TATE HARMER & BLUE FOREST

OFFSITE MAGAZINE IS THE MARKET-LEADING PUBLICATION DEDICATED TO THE OFFSITE CONSTRUCTION AND MANUFACTURING ARENA Some say ‘print media is dead’ but we don’t agree!! Our publications have seen year on year increases in circulation via requested readership and subscriptions – a testament to the quality of the content that we deliver and the targeted nature of our readership.

Across all our offsite platforms, there is a multitude of opportunities to promote your products, people and services to a highly refined and extremely targeted audience.

Bespoke Packages

Our standard advertising options are detailed in our 2021 media pack which is available on request but we work closely with agencies and clients to build bespoke packages and develop fully integrated promotional campaigns through print media and online platforms which are in line with your strategies and budgets.

Don’t have the resource or skill set?

Radar has a team of skilled copywriters and graphic designers with experience in manufacturing environments who can create highly technical content – delivering clear and compelling press articles, adverts, case studies and website content.

Give us a call today to discuss your requirements! Julie Williams 01743 290 042

NHBC Standards 2021 are coming Applicable from 1 January 2021

You’ll see the biggest changes in the Standards chapters that deal with: n external masonry walls n flat roofs, terraces and balconies n drives, pathways and landscaping.

We’ve made some changes to the NHBC Standards which will apply to new homes registered with us where the foundations are started on or after 1 January 2021. Please visit to see the changes we’ve made.

National House-Building Council is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. National House-Building Council is registered in England & Wales under company number 00320784. National House-Building Council’s registered address is NHBC House, Davy Avenue, Knowlhill, Milton Keynes, Bucks MK5 8FP. R538 11/20

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