App to assess sites for modular housing launched

5th July, 2019

A smart phone app that allows developers and housing associations to assess their sites for the viability of offsite housing has launched.

The free-to-use app, developed by design practice Bryden Wood, has been created for the mayor of London, following on from work his office did with building consultant Cast.

It comes after the London Assembly planning committee made a call in 2017 for better design guidance to allow wider use of offsite homes to tackle the capital's housing shortage and speed up supply.

The app, called Prism, combines the mayor of London's spatial planning rules with modular housing manufacturers' expertise to allow architects, local authority planners and developers to determine viable options for their site.

In practice, it lets users plot a building outline on a map, inputting information such as desired number of different sized units and floor height. The app then optimises the layout of units and internal apartment layouts for precision manufactured methods (for example by standardising room sizes and aligning wall partitions which play a significant role in optimally designing for volumetric or panellised systems).

Its designers claim that no specialist knowledge is required to use it.

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing and residential development, said: "We need to build far more housing in London - and particularly more council, social rented, and other genuinely affordable homes.

"Even if we had all the investment and powers we need, traditional construction techniques will only take us so far. That's why the mayor has been working with key industry players to develop 'Prism' - a new housing design app, which is the first of its kind in the world, and which will give a vital boost to the precision manufacturing of homes."

Jami Cresser-Brown, architecture director at Bryden Wood, added: "Technology has revolutionised so many sectors from finance to automotive and it is time for the construction sector to do the same. This is the only way that we will be able to meet demand for housing and other social infrastructure.

"The scale of the challenge is so great that we will only succeed if we work together. We have deliberately opted to make this app open-sourced so that anyone can play a role in the design process and its next stages of innovation."

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