To win this Mtech Group-sponsored award Pace Timber Systems has produced a whole even greater than its parts
This category is all about creating off-site solutions that can help to ease not just the housing shortage in the UK but also the skills shortage – and Pace Timber Systems has delivered this in bucketloads. In its Optima Homes concept, the firm has advanced traditional timber-frame construction to create a kit of parts that form a complete home, comprising drylined wall panels, prefinished windows and doors, prefabricated staircases, floor and roof cassettes, M&E service ducting and fully-fitted kitchen and bathroom pods. But Pace hasn’t fallen into the trap of over-standardising – indeed, customers are able to choose specific building forms as well as a range of internal and external appearances. That may be because the product was developed in cooperation with an architect, Cartwright Pickard Architects. The benefits? Well, apart from the huge amount of time saved, the buildings are handed over defect-free and offer customers minimised energy use and CO2 emissions. So everyone’s a winner.
The judges were really impressed with this housebuilding factory – a 90,000ft2 facility in Daventry, Northamptonshire, that produces its own brand of modular homes, Advance Housing. Barratt Developments established the venture with experienced modular building manufacturer Terrapin. In the factory, high-tech production-line techniques are being applied to significantly reduce building time and achieve high-quality standards, with modules being delivered to site and fitted together easily and quickly. The factory will eventually be capable of producing complete homes, using pods and panels, at a rate of up to 10 a day.
Fusion building systems
This four-year-old firm, originally from Cork in Ireland, made this shortlist because of its fantastic StiF panel, which can be used as part of the steel frame or as part of the external envelope of a building. It uses cold-formed steel technology, coupled with CAD/CAM systems that create a 3D model to inform the cutting machines. The frame is then injected with expandable polystyrene to create a panel that can form a watertight and insulated building very quickly. It has been vigorously tested for fire resistance and thermal performance and far exceeds requirements of the Building Regulations. Clever stuff.
When it comes to off-site construction, Lovell Partnerships is thinking big. Really big: its latest scheme, in a joint venture with urban regeneration company New East Manchester, is the 550-home mixed-tenure development called The Way. Designed by Bowker Sadler Architects, the ultramodern scheme with its overhanging roofing and large glazed areas is using the Kingspan TEK Building System, a structural insulated panel system that offers high thermal performance and speed of construction. Which means that 550 Manchester families get to live in energy-efficient, high-spec homes that didn’t cost the earth to build.
This company has fully embraced the principles of off-site construction. So fully, in fact, that last year 70% of all its housing was built using modern methods of construction, a figure that is set to rise another 5% this year. It has trained more than 150 of its key staff, using a bespoke innovation course, so that there is full buy-in and commitment across the company. And it has developed its own standard interface details so that components and systems fit, first time, every time. The result is a 66% increase in turnover since the firm implemented its use of off-site construction. Fairly conclusive, then.
The Building Communties awards 2005
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Best off-site innovation: Winner pace timber systems