Car makers hold the key to the future of house building, says architect

Jul 02, 2020

David Coles

‘Production line’ approach to construction is needed to meet demand for homes

BUILDING new homes in the same way that cars are made may be the post-Covid social distancing solution that the house construction industry is looking for, says a leading UK architect.

David Coles, chief executive of DCa Architects in Olney, says the only way to keep up with rising demand for affordable homes is to construct them in the same ‘production line’ style that allows car manufacturers to deliver thousands of vehicles every day.

Such a move could also reduce the amount of human interaction required to build a house and would encourage better social distancing on building sites, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic that has rocked the construction industry, Mr Coles said.

In a summary paper to the UK’s housing authorities, Mr Coles says new houses could have diagnostics and fault-finding built in to them so that owners can keep a check on any problems and have them fixed, just like they would their car.

DCa has already been looking at the way car maker MINI builds several versions of its models based on one platform and has plans to research other manufacturers including Nissan, McLaren and Aston Martin.

The MINI factory at Oxford

Mr Coles, a member of the Royal Institution of British Architects, says homes can be pre-constructed and then put together on site. Each home would have its own 3D ‘virtual twin’ that monitors performance, use, maintenance and sustainability throughout its life, similar to cars.

Owners can order a ‘base model’ home and then choose from a list of options, including number of bedrooms, size of kitchen and power choices such as solar energy.

“The result of this would be cleaner and safer building sites, where staff can remain safely apart from each other wherever possible,” Mr Coles said. “It would also lead to fault-free homes and speedier construction at a time when more people than ever need somewhere to live and when the building industry is struggling to keep up with demand.

“Vehicle makers have devised brilliant methods to design and build great cars very quickly and to customers’ specific demands, and there is no reason why the construction industry should not do the same.”


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