Khan backs design tool to accelerate modular housing output
A group led by Mark Farmer, influential strategist on modern methods of construction, supported by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched an open source application to accelerate the design of precision manufactured housing schemes in the capital.
The free programme was born out of the 2017 London Assembly Planning committee’s ‘Designed, sealed, delivered’ call for the creation of a standard design code for precision-manufactured homes to combat London’s housing crisis.
London needs to build 50,000 homes each year in order to keep up with demand. Nicky Gavron, chair of the LAP committee, called for “an innovative approach to delivering new homes”.
Precision-manufactured homes can be built at least 30% faster than those built with traditional construction methods. Swan Housing Association said the time saving was as great as 60%.
Prism allows users to design various structures on a site, embedded within London’s housing design standards for sizes and other specifications, all following rules for manufacturing. This means that from the early stages of site acquisition, designers, developers and others associated with the project can establish the viability of precision-manufactured housing for their development.
The app allows the user to plot buildings from a brief, inputting information such as storey height and layout, explore the precision-manufactured housing options, and look at project metrics. Prism then auto-solves and modifies the design by adjusting things like apartment size and optimises precision-manufactured building methods. The user can then export the design into downloadable data.
Gavron went on to say that Prism will “spearhead a transformation of the construction industry to meet one of the biggest global challenges, namely, how to build more sustainable homes, better and faster. [The] framework will drive collaboration and innovation, while keeping costs down and speeding up construction. Prism will open up new opportunities, particularly on constrained urban sites.”
The development of the app was funded by the Greater London Authority as well as transport for London. It was client commissioned and co-funded by Greystar, Legal & General, and the housing association L&Q. Prism is delivered by Bryden Wood, engineers and architects, and Cast, Mark Farmer’s consultancy. Mark Farmer wrote the Farmer Review in 2016 which is often referred to as a benchmark for modern methods of construction.