Gateshead Innovation Village

Gateshead Innovation Village (GIV) is a live research and construction project led by Home Group and is supported by Homes England; delivery partner ENGIE Regeneration; project manager, Elliott Associates; and architect, IDP. At GIV, Home Group were looking at new ways to disrupt the way housing is delivered and build the homes that are so desperately needed.

The project set out to identify dynamic new construction solutions, whilst the research results (conducted by Building Research Establishment (BRE)) will offer the sector greater confidence in utilising modern methods of construction (MMC) at scale, challenging public perceptions of modular homes and enabling housing that is affordable to be delivered at pace.

 

The project created 41 energy efficient homes; a combination of 16 modular houses and 19 MMC houses, as well as 6 traditionally built houses. It is referred to as a village for the strong identity and new community concept which is at the heart of the scheme. Three different house type styles have been built, sharing a clear language. The various construction methods can be robustly compared to understand the performance of each method.

Home Group selected five suppliers following a market assessment and, working with their development partner ENGIE, selected a range of MMC suppliers to deliver the project using light gauge steel frame and aerated concrete panelised systems, as well as fully modular homes supplied by three different manufacturers.

The testing of these construction methods is coupled with sustainable energy solutions which have been built into the homes to test the energy performance and inform the eco strategy for future housing developments. The way in which a home is constructed, heating, hot water, lighting, ventilation, home appliances and cooking all contribute to the amount of carbon dioxide created. MMC, as well as better heating systems, insulation and renewable energy have already reduced the levels of carbon dioxide produced.

Challenging perceptions of modern methods of construction was a key driver in this project. In 2018, Home Group undertook research with YouGov revealing misconceptions around modular homes – this re-ran in May 2019 and indicated a significant change in sentiment at a regional level. In answer to ‘How likely, if at all, would you be to choose to live in a modular house?’, positive responses (very likely or fairly likely) in the North East more than doubled from 2018’s responses.

The drive to meet the Government’s 2025 Future Homes standard on this project was assisted by the MMC methods selected. The construction of houses in a factory environment drives a reduction in waste, minimises deliveries to site during the construction phase and analysis has proven that embodied carbon within modular housing is less than their traditionally built counterparts.

Ultimately, the trialling of advanced building methods, innovative energy solutions and the use of smart home technologies will provide insight and knowledge that could determine a far wider social impact for future house building.

Key achievements

  • Working in collaboration with ENGIE as their delivery partner, Home Group developed the concept of Gateshead Innovation Village to test new ways to construct homes quickly and efficiently. This was in direct response to the UK housing crisis as a new approach is needed to meet the number of homes required. Using modern methods of construction, the design and production of these homes can be readily transferred to other housing developments.
  • Building a gas free development, using MMC to compare and contrast and adding in innovative heating and control methods has enabled this development to already satisfy the Government’s 2025 Future Homes Standard. These sustainable methods will enable the wider industry to learn from this exciting development and implement these methods for both speed of delivery and to address the difficult task of transition to carbon zero.
  • Not only have Home Group provided a test bed for the industry, supported by ongoing monitoring from the BRE, they have, with their partners created a desirable community that dispels the myths around modular housing. The aesthetically pleasing development showcases the way in which houses can be constructed today; and that MMC and traditional construction can visually stand side by side.