Following our shortlisting to one of six for the second phase of the hotly contested RIBA Home of 2030 Design competition, Associate Matthew Thomas talks about the importance of creating a happier and healthier society and the benefits that MMC can bring to our communities.
The ongoing pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures have forced us to confront many inequalities that exist across our homes and communities. Issues such as overcrowding and lack of outdoor space were suddenly thrown to the forefront, resulting in more attention on how our homes can impact mental and physical wellbeing. Now, with stricter lockdown measures returning to much of the UK, these issues have once again come into the limelight.
As a result, we now recognise with urgency the need to ensure high quality homes are accessible to all. We better understand how this directly contributes to healthy living. But we also know that placemaking and sustainability need to be at the centre of planning and design processes – these factors together are the recipe for creating communities that truly thrive.
So how do we achieve that? Flexible, adaptable homes that are constructed using a variety of offsite manufactured parts are a great way for us to start meeting these needs. Providing greater choice and customisation options will help meet the requirements of comfortable, modern, healthy living. It will also allow us to put forward new typologies and connect us more with nature and the outdoors than was ever possible via traditional homes.
This is particularly crucial at a time when society is adjusting to shifting demographics. According to the Office for National Statistics, factors such as people living longer and having fewer children means the population aged 65 and over will grow in all regions of the UK by 2028. We need to understand that better homes mean future proofing homes. Our homes have to be more adaptable so that they meet the needs of people throughout the life course, such as when downsizing.
The changeable features and layouts of modular homes can help us meet those requirements. They allow us to create places that are more accessible, secure, and sustainable, resulting in greater longevity and therefore more efficient use of resources.
But also, modular homes themselves can be a source of good health. Energy efficiency and healthier indoor environments are more easily achieved when homes are constructed using factory methods, allowing for greater precision and better use of the latest technology. Add to that, modular construction is more sustainable, using manpower, materials, and energy more efficiently overall, which benefits the overall health of our planet.
This was the motivation behind our ‘forever home’ concept, which is one of six finalists in the Home of 2030 competition launched earlier this year. Our concept is based on a universal modular platform using interchangeable parts with other homes, with sustainability and wellbeing at the core. The concept allows home buyers to select various components from multiple companies within the ‘platform ecosystem’, enabling them to build, maintain, reconfigure, upgrade or shrink their ‘forever home’. The greater ability for customising allows a homeowner to stay in put over their life course, adjusting the home to suit their needs and wellbeing accordingly.
As modular construction grows in popularity across the UK and globally, we are encouraged as more are beginning to realise the benefits – from sustainability to wellbeing – that MMC can bring to our communities. By working together, we believe the built environment can help us adjust to meet the needs of our changing society, whilst simultaneously improving our collective state of wellbeing.