With riotously bright colours, Rogers’s ‘move-on’ housing scheme is dressed in the child-like garb of a My First House. But design niggles mean nothing to the tenants getting their own homes for the first time.
On paper the benefits are clear and indisputable. Each apartment is built under controlled conditions in a factory in Derbyshire, increasing precision and quality control while minimising waste, then craned into place on site, with services already installed. This process takes about half the time of conventional construction and it’s a good deal cheaper, at around £1,400 per sq m (as opposed to the usual £2,000 for local authority new-builds). Each studio apartment comes with its own en-suite bedroom and living room with a galley kitchen and, crucially, each unit has its own front door, giving the residents a sense of their own place, often for the first time. And, even though it’s made in a factory, there’s nothing particularly futuristic about any of it.
‘It’s all simple technology’ says RSH+P architect Andrew Partridge – describing the structure as a basic timber frame with MDF or plasterboard lining and simple cement board rain-screen cladding. The level of insulation and airtightness means bills for heating and electricity should be as low as £10 per month – while the cost-saving in construction means the units can be rented for £150 per week – 65% of the local market rate. The units have a lifespan of around 60 years – during which they can be moved and re-installed up to five times.(cont..)