22 Mar 2016

Award-winning pre-fab SNUG Home offers solution to affordable custom build

Award-winning pre-fab SNUG Home offers solution to affordable custom build

A protoype design for a compact, sustainable and affordable home for the self and custom build market has won an Edge Award, recognising design, talent and entrepreneuralism in the south west of England. Self-build co-operative Ecomotive has worked with architects Barton Willmore on the design for a compact self-build style home that uses pre-fabricated manufacturing to keep costs to a minimum.

Taking inspiration from successful European modular structures, the brief required the design to be flexible and adaptable. Consequently SNUG Home can be easily ‘grown’ at a later date with the introduction of additional elements, as the owner’s circumstances, and finances, dictate. The concept has been formulated to allow SNUG to be built as a stand alone unit or arranged in clusters, making it an attractive and practical opportunity for cohousing projects. This is especially relevant for collective housing where residents are often happier to live in smaller homes with shared features such as communal halls, bedrooms or gardens.

Residents can choose the number, size and arrangement of units they need, which are then delivered to site for owners to complete according to their specification. The formula also lends itself to creating apartment block and terraces, making it adaptable to a variety of scenarios.

Architect Tom Macklen of Barton Willmore said “As planners, architects and urban designers, Barton Willmore is looking increasingly more at custom build as a route to housing.”

A prototype has been given the go ahead for a site in Redcliffe Way, Bristol, with a planning application already submitted. Once built, the house will include an exhibition space, as Director of Ecomotive, Jackson Moulding, explains:

“With the prototype in place we want to hear from everyone about how they believe housing should be created in the future, and whether future residents want to have a say over what is built for them, and if they want to be involved in the design and construction.”

The main barrier to the project’s further growth though is a lack of land, and Moulding requested any landowner or body that could help get in touch with Ecomotive.

Editor’s comment

Volumetric offsite house construction is surely a route to affordability, as L&G Homes recently acknowledged with its plans for the largest prefab homes factory in Europe. However, it is not necessarily a practical route to individually-customised homes as it relies on a production line to achieve economies of scale. SNUG Home is clever in that its modular design offers a viable solution to affordable custom home building as its modular nature means that the design can be ‘grown’ to suit a family’s needs and circumstances. This is a real win in the search for a customisable AND affordable home. Modular housing is in no way a modern concept, but it is a route to design that can be both flexible and affordable.

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