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Cast Member Donna Macfadyen Joins Panel Discussion On Modular Housing Delivery

02/10/20  / By Cast
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Cast Member Donna Macfadyen Joins Panel Discussion On Modular Housing Delivery - Cast
02/10/20  / By Cast
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5 minute read

Architect, Project Manager & Strategic Advisory for Cast, Donna Macfadyen spoke on a panel at Sitematch 2020 with Ilke Homes, Be First Regeneration, and HTA Design. She has gathered her insights from the event and shares them below:

Site match London puts developers in touch with councils and public bodies to discuss London’s priority development sites. I spoke on a panel with Rory Bergin of HTA Design, Pat Hayes of Be First Regeneration, and Craig Liddell of Ilke Homes. The panel discussion focused on what we saw as the biggest changes in modular delivery over the last few years, and what needs to happen next to kick start more public sector projects. The key points I touched on were about design.

There are two design conversations evolving in parallel at the moment. Manufacturers are improving their systems and embracing the principles and mindset of a ‘Design for Manufacture & Assembly’ (DfMA) approach. Design energy is going into improving the efficiency of assembly, shortening the time taken to produce each module, and perfecting component sub-assemblies.

It was great to hear Craig of Ilke Homes speak about how recent investment from Homes England has enabled them to tech-out their facilities with rolling floors and other precision machinery. The industry is also bound to learn a lot from Sekisui’s highly designed processes once they set up shop in the UK. The MMC market is evolving away from speed of construction and towards a focus on a high-quality product.

Cast member Donna Macfadyen joins panel discussion on modular housing delivery

The importance of design is also being talked about client-side. The last few weeks have seen a few reports highlighting both the value of design and how design has been neglected in home building recently. We are waking up to the poor quality, disappointing neighbourhoods we are building.

Place Alliance released ‘A housing audit for England’ with a grim assessment of our current output. From the different tiers of Government, both the #BBBBC and the #WMCADesignCharter called for higher quality housing, respectful of local context and responding to local character. The conversation is shifting from the pure panic of ‘just get the homes built as quickly as possible, don’t you know there’s a crisis on!’ to a more savvy critique of the products on offer. One councillor at the event put it bluntly to the manufacturers in the room that they are currently wasting taxpayers money marketing poor quality products to the public sector.

This was a clear message to the MMC sector that they should focus on quality as a key differentiator.

What needs to happen next is further aggregation of demand across the public sector. If you buy the argument that the traditional building market cannot meet the demand for housing, achieve the quality assurance we deserve — or a quality aesthetic, then the natural next step is to help manufacturers get to a point of stability where the public sector feels comfortable purchasing from them. An important step in this is providing a stable pipeline of work that can support R&D and investment. The public sector can take a lead in doing this because of its scale and its drive to deliver wider strategic industrial benefits, but to do this with maximum effect public bodies will need to work together. Working together will also strengthen the client position. The public sector needs homes that are zero-carbon, long-lasting, constituent pleasing, and designed to suit our evolving living needs. A stronger client will be well placed to demand a better product from their manufacturer.

The good news is collaboration is already happening! Organisations like Building Better are working on fostering collaboration among housing associations, and their work to date has shown how grouping sites together can improve purchasing power and supply chain relationships. I used this example during the panel discussion as a methodology public bodies could maybe follow to deliver at pace. I think we have an exciting year ahead of us in housing delivery.

 
 
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