Housing Matters 4: Off-site innovation
Our March Housing Matters tour of offsite innovation in Canterbury proved one of the most popular events so far. It encompassed a tour of Laing Properties’ Rex St apartments, a tour of the Concision Factory, and a talk by straw bale prefab expert Craig White.
Laing Properties’ Rex Street apartments were the first stop on the tour. Grant Laing explained how they are built using Metra Inter-tenancy walls to provide structural support and both fire and sound insulation between one dwelling to another. This Inter-tenancy Wall Design and Construction boasts a FRR 30/30/30 fire resistance rating and STC61 sound insulation performance to reduce sound transmission between rooms. The inter-tenancy walls are integrated with the entire METRAwalls, floor and ceiling system, reducing time on site and speeding up construction.
The group was shown around completed apartments delivered as part of the Housing NZ scheme and were impressed at what has been delivered - on time and to specification providing some good quality accommodation for Housing New Zealand tenants.
The second stop was an all important break for breakfast at the Izone café in Rolleston - where staff amazed participants by bringing out delicious hot breakfasts for the nearly 60 people on the tour in an conversation packed 45 minutes - an impressive feat of catering innovation.
The tour then headed to the Concision Factory, a joint venture between Spanbild Holdings and group home builder, Mike Greer Homes NZ Limited. Participants had a ‘top secret’ guided tour by Peter Freeman of Mike Greer Homes. The Concision process is based around a panelised wall system built in a factory using state of the art automation and state-of-the-art technology. It was impressive to see this level of innovation brought to New Zealand - with precise calculations of material usage for each construction project, minimising waste and maximising efficiencies. The panels are insulated, clad and pre-fitted with windows, wired and plumbed ready for connection on site. In essence, Concision’s factory produces walls, floors and roofing that are completely as-per-plan, and ready for transportation and on-site assembly - all with millimetre accuracy.
Finally the bus brought participants back to where it all started at the Fendalton Library and Service Centre (thanks Christchurch City Council for your ongoing support of Housing Matters and for providing great venues) for an inspirational presentation and discussion by Craig White, a UK architect and renewable building material entrepreneur. He has been involved in low energy and sustainable design since the 1980s and is the founder of ModCell® straw technology. This system utilises the excellent thermal insulation qualities of straw bale construction to form prefabricated panels. His presentation proved surprisingly interesting for an audience that did not know a lot about the potential for straw bale use in prefab construction. http://www.modcell.com/
Craig also went into some detail of radical new housing policy from the UK which will see a huge increase in housing delivered by and for communities on brownfield sites (see the custom build programme at http://www.selfbuildportal.org.uk )
“I thought this was the highlight: very interesting and a strong focus on energy efficiency and sustainability. It was great to compare and contrast building issues in UK and NZ”