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16 Jan, 20 / post / Architecture
Modern Methods of Construction

It’s fair to say that Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) has been slow to take off in the UK.

Cityzen have been early adopters, however. DFMA (design for manufacture and assembly) is something we’ve been doing for years, developing modules and construction details ready for manufacturers to implement. Take a look at some of our (MMC) portfolio projects:

Modular Hotel | Rooftop Development | Emergency Accommodation | Innovation Studios.

I first wrote about using shipping containers as modular building components back in 2006, and our work since has been cited and featured in a few books. I was even invited to speak at the national Explore Offsite Housing event in 2018, to share the challenges and solutions that shipping containers offer.

Explore Offsite Housing Modern Methods of Construction
John Smith talking about the technical details of using Shipping Container Modules

Improving the speed, quality and sustainability of a build is a win for everyone, and the construction industry needs to embrace modular and offsite as alternatives to the more traditional site-based schemes.

Government appoints champion for Modern Methods of Construction

There have been some encouraging signs that the tide could be turning. In November 2019, the Government’s Housing Minister appointed an MMC champion, Mark Farmer, who has 30 years’ experience in the construction and real estate industries. Mark’s role will be to help accelerate the uptake of Modern Methods of Construction; to advise the Government on how to increase the use of MMC in homebuilding, to develop a construction corridor in the North of England, and promote wider innovation in the sector.

In the press release announcing his appointment, Mark commented: “This is a really important time for the construction industry and there is an urgent need to rethink how we build homes, delivering better quality, improved safety, carbon reduction and an array of exciting new career opportunities.”

The technology exists to drive MMC forward

Getting Modern Methods of Construction into the mainstream is going to be digitally driven. In previous blogs, I’ve written about being able to pick design options for your building like you would the wheels on your new car. We need to make clients feel the process adds value and quality (too many people still think of the post-war prefabs and how cold and badly laid out they were).

In this digital age, we can design a flexible building using generative design to meet a client’s goals and then send it to a factory to be:

  • Printed
  • Panelised
  • Modularised
  • Or even entirely built

It’s just a matter of looking at where the constraints are (on site, transportation to site, material availability or just style). All of these Modern Methods of Construction can help control the quality and waste. Hands-on construction skills are bound to slowly reduce as the industry invests in more varied robotic infrastructure, but we have to embrace MMC to meet housing needs and address the climate crisis.

As a practice, we continue to look at change from every perspective. Each building is constructed from thousands of variables and has to meet ever-changing and ever more stringent targets. My technological journey began in 1989. Although I started out using a drawing board, I began learning Autocad that same year, started designing in 3D in the late 90s, produced renders and visualisations in the 2000s, did our first 3D prints and started using Revit in in 2013, and saw our first factory built projects come to realisation in 2016.

We’ve come a long way – where can we help you get to? If you have a project in mind that could benefit from our experience in modular and offsite construction, please get in touch.

About the author
john smith
Architectural Technologist, Building Services Engineer, Low Carbon Consultant & Director at Cityzenhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/johnsmithcityzen/
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