Roundtable events are a perfect forum for a targeted discussion where you will often hear some new viewpoints. In the case of this one on modular housing in the north west, hosted by Trowers & Hamlins (report available here), we had the benefit of insight from those on all sides: design, procurement and delivery.
For us as architects, we worry a lot about losing the things that make for the most successful neighbourhoods. Thriving communities are mixed, in typology and in tenure, and benefit from designers’ skills in placemaking. Consideration of context, appropriate street patterns and urban grain, building scale and landscape treatments are all vital elements in the creation of successful residential developments, and with the use of modular construction methods, it is crucial that the space between buildings is not forgotten. That said, standardisation is essential to realising the full economies of scale benefits of modular housing, and it worked for the Victorians with their (now extremely desirable in the right area) rows of identikit terraced houses. The key is that they were well designed and well built, with relief, bay windows, porches, brick detailing, quality materials… the list goes on, and so does the need for skilled designers to be central to the process.