With a mantra of ‘space not rooms’ and a glowing reputation for delivering a new lease of life to empty mills and warehouses, Urban Splash has long held a belief that offsite construction can deliver huge value in creating a new breed of living spaces across the UK. A NEW WAY OF LIVING Award-winning regeneration company Urban Splash grabbed many headlines recently when it announced that it taken control of modular construction specialists SIG Building Systems – the modular offsite construction unit of SIG plc – and announced its expansion as Urban Splash Modular Ltd, with additional investment from architect and broadcaster George Clarke, alongside seasoned North West tech entrepreneur and founder of WeBuyAnyCar.com, Noel McKee. At the heart of this move is hoUSe.
Urban Splash’s latest residential concept that is set to revolutionise the UK’s attitudes to housing where buyers can configure their home exactly as they want them. Firstly they choose a size (either 1000 sqft or 1500 sqft) and then pick the arrangement of spaces within the house and make selections from a range of specifications as they go through the purchase process. All homes also have a secure parking space and a garden. hoUSe is designed to be 25% bigger than a typical newbuild and is architectdesigned and super-flexible. What has driven Urban Splash to develop its hoUSe approach to placemaking and improving housing choices for potential owners? “Modular has always been an obvious draw for us,” says Urban Splash Director Simon Gawthorpe. “Especially as it’s proven to work so well for us in urban environments. Having spent more than two decades bringing innovative design to the UK housing market – including a maiden modular construction venture at Moho in Manchester in 2006 – we launched our hoUSe concept in 2016.” In order to deliver the important vision of customer choice, Urban Splash needed to rethink how it was going to build the hoUSe concept and make houses with better space standards.
Is modular construction a way of offering customers a variety of housing options? And something that other housing providers can do to ease the perennial UK housing crisis? Certainly, offsite manufacture is increasingly seen as the optimum way for the UK construction industry to provide better quality buildings generally. “For Urban Splash and developers in general, we have the opportunity to do what manufacturers are doing for other sectors and finally take a 21st century approach to mass customisation – in the same way that the car industry has,” says Simon. “While most other sectors are becoming more and more industrialised – with many mass goods being made more efficiently in factories – housing is one of the last bastions adopting quite outdated processes.
“Now is the time for this to change, there’s been disruption in so many sectors and modular is housing’s opportunity. It’s not been broadly adopted at all in the UK yet and now is the time for us to either grab hold of the opportunities that come with offsite or be left behind. Urban Splash has long been synonymous with innovation, so we want to be the business breaking through the barriers. “The advantages of modular are vast for many reasons. For customers, there’s a new alternative away from the identikit solutions provided by mass housebuilders – they have the power to design and determine the layout of their home, which is then made in a factory, and transported as a preassembled module to site where it is craned into position.
“Our first modular product – the Town House – gives customers choice thanks to design templates which allow them to choose from either a two-storey, 1,000sq ft, home or a three-storey, 1,500sq ft home with varying layouts to suit their needs. An added USP is the option to change homes over time thanks to non-load bearing walls.
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