Made for London: Realising the potential of modern methods of construction
September 2018
By Eleanor Connolly

Archio Director Kyle was invited by the Centre for London to be part of the panel for the launch of the ‘Made for London: Realising the potential of modern methods of construction’ report.

To kick start the morning, the Centre for London’s Victoria Pinoncely presented the findings of the report that examines which modern construction techniques are being used in London’s housing market, from digitally-designed modular homes to precision manufactured components. Considering how the use of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) in housing construction and manufacture could improve the scale, speed, and quality of housing delivery across the capital.

The opening panel discussion saw Jonathan Emery (Lendlease) argue supply chains need predictability and that the design community has difficulty with repetition and consistency. Emery then went onto discuss how 'build-to-rent' changes residential developments ability to maintain investment. Mark Baigent (London Borough of Tower Hamlets) added the importance of 'build-to-social rent' and meanwhile use sites around boroughs, which present a particular scale and certainty.

Christine Whitehead (Professor of Housing Economics, LSE) discussed that construction is a relatively small part of the whole picture and the issues lie in the pre-construction phase. Whitehead notably stating that before we discuss bringing robots into the construction industry we should start to think about women. MMC presents a huge opportunity to address issues of gender equality.

Archio co-Director Kyle Buchanan emphasised that MMC needs to be celebrated as a disruptive and innovative technology to inspire graduates into the industry and allow for a bigger more diverse workforce. An education which moves away from construction being manual labour and becomes more about design and digitalised manufacture. Highlighting the fact that MMC is a small but important part of the process and structural change is needed to capture the speed of delivery and cost savings. Pooja Agrawal (GLA) concluded the discussion by emphasising the need for a more integrated education for people involved in constructing buildings to understand architecture, engineering, contracting, planning and not just one discipline.

Archio support architecture and construction techniques that integrate MMC into the very early stages of the design process.  Our Becontree Avenue project will be constructed using CLT. The design of the two villas, responds to characteristic features of the houses within the original Becontree Estate: eaves heights change around the two buildings, responding to the height of the adjacent buildings, and exaggerated dormer windows are used to create dramatic internal spaces.

The Made for London report launch and panel discussion shed light on opportunities of modern construction techniques in helping to deliver a step change in housing supply in London, which was both well-informed and progressive. Thank you to Pooja Agrawal for chairing the discussion and to the Centre for London for organising a thought-provoking morning.

The full report can be viewed here.

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