Smart and modular

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell reports on a new modular build in Corby.

As you may have picked up before now, I am quite excited by the growing trend in modular construction. As I was preparing this week’s newsletter, this story crossed my desk, complete with a time lapse video, that I thought may interest you.

The first four houses of a London modular commuter village have been completed in 34 days, modular smart homes provider Project Etopia has announced.

The company said the speed at which the exterior of the three-storey townhouses was completed demonstrates how villages of the future can be developed quicker and more affordably using modular construction techniques.

A bricks and mortar home can take months to build but it only took just over a month to finish the four homes in Corby, Northamptonshire, each with a floor area of 134m2. The speed is generated by using manual lifting rather than cranes.

The 47-home development, comprising 31 houses and 16 apartments, is being built at Priors Hall Park. The homes will be equipped with Etopia’s E-Smart technology, giving owners the power to control lighting, blinds, heating and more. They will also have an earth energy bank/GeoStore system which stores heat energy while batteries store electricity.

The homes’ exterior shells were constructed in a factory and transported to Corby, ensuring a speedy build. The panels can withstand winds of up to 462mph and their U-value is 0.13W/m2K compared with a U-value in excess of 0.16W/m2K for a typical well-insulated wall in a new build brick property.

Community interest company Electric Corby laid out its ambition for energy self-sufficient homes on the site in 2013, and gained planning permission in 2016, but getting the building industry to meet the eco standards proved to be a Herculean task, according to reports.

Project Etopia stepped in to buy the site in 2018 and started the groundwork in December last year. The project has been chosen as one of five Building for 2050 research projects funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Joseph Daniels, CEO of Project Etopia, said: “These homes have shot out of the ground. It’s an immensely proud moment because these are the first non-demonstration homes that we have built and they were ahead of schedule and on budget.

“They’re a wonderful example of how modular building will provide luxury, desirable homes for everyone with cost, labour and time savings keeping prices at an affordable level.

“Throughout the build local residents have been remarking how they’d return from work and be amazed by how much progress had been made in just a day. Development of the remaining 43 units will follow rapidly behind.

“The housing crisis is keeping many trapped in a cycle of renting, and only by rapidly accelerating house-building can policy-makers ensure this changes. These homes are the solution to that problem and the future of housebuilding in Britain.”