Project Etopia’s 47-home modular housing development in Corby
The technical director at Project Etopia has built a career as an expert in sustainable offsite housing and has recently been appointed as technical director at modular home developer Project Etopia.
What will your new role at Project Etopia involve?
My role will be to help the company get the most out of offsite design and delivery. This will involve integrating new and exciting smart technologies that lower energy consumption, increase functionality, improve year-round internal climate and ensure the building fabric requires minimal maintenance.
Offsite construction has long been cited as being a panacea for the housing crisis, capable of delivering higher quality, lower cost housing – but it is only now beginning to take large bites of market share.
It has taken people time to adapt their thinking. In the past, a rule known as “the eternal triangle” suggested neither time, cost and quality could be altered without negatively affecting the other two. Yet offsite construction delivers on all three of these elements.
The groundswell of public demand for more affordable, sustainable and readily available housing is providing the momentum.
How did you become a pioneer in sustainable offsite housing?
I am now 63 and I built my first self-build timber-frame home when I was 23. The methods were dramatically different to those used now, as it involved an open cell timber frame structure which I designed and built. It represented the cutting edge of housebuilding in the UK at that time – and it fuelled my interest and subsequently my career.
Over the years, I have worked all around the world – including Japan, America, Canada and Scandinavia – to help design building systems and new products to force change.
Sustainable offsite housing is a huge area of growth. What skills, experience and training do construction professionals need to make a move into this field?
Offsite can be varied and diverse in both its materials and the method of delivery, but the basic design and performance of the building envelopes is still based upon standard building physics.
The existing skill base of the architects, specifiers and inspectors only requires an incremental uplift of their already advanced skill sets, via continuing professional development, to embrace offsite.