beX Learning Week - Sustainable Communities Premanufactured from Wood

The UK has a housing shortage, requiring circa 300,000 homes per annum to be built to keep up with up with demand. Less than 2/3rd of this target are currently being built. The Scottish Government has its own target of 50,000 affordable homes in its current term, many are sceptical that this will be met because of the current barriers to delivery. These barriers include an ageing construction workforce demographic and skills crisis, available infrastructure and planning constraints combined with the speculative build models of developers resulting in land banking.

Offsite is viewed by many as a potential solution to the housing crisis given it is about doing more in a controlled factory environment improving both productivity and quality. However, for offsite to respond it has to be part of a complete solution capable of delivering more sustainable communities giving consideration to the aforementioned barriers as well as the future social, economic and environmental drivers.

Scotland has a heritage in timber offsite systems, primarily timber platform frame with over 75% of its new build houses delivered by this form of construction adopted from the USA. Most of the timber for this purpose is imported but there is the potential to utilise more homegrown timber and, with the introduction of new mass timber technologies such as CLT, which improve performance through reengineering, there is the potential to increase further its utilisation in the built environment.

The creation of the built environment from construction systems premanufacutred from wood, whilst delivering more sustainable communities in the Scottish context, is the theme of this learning week. During the week students from both Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Edinburgh Napier University Built Environment Exchange will have the opportunity to engage with leading manufacturing companies, architects, engineers, forest resource managers and masterplan developers and be immersed within their respective factories, construction sites and forests.