Bristol partnership secures £3m to unlock housing innovation

Image Bristol City Council.

Main image: The launch of the We Can Make Home in Knowle West. Picture Ibolya Feher.

Bristol is set to benefit from a £3million grant to help explore innovative solutions in the city to tackle the housing crisis.

The new project, funded by Innovate UK, is seeking to unlock current barriers – and allow the council and its partners to try out Modern Methods of Construction (MMC).

It’s hoped these new methods of house building can help cut costs – as well as increase the speed and social value of nearly £78m of housing to be built in the city over the next five years.

The Enabling Housing Innovation for Inclusive Growth project will run for 18 months across nine developments.

It is a partnership between Bristol City Council, the Bristol Housing Festival, YTKO, the British Research Establishment and nine leading modular housing companies.

We Can Make is a local housing project run by digital arts charity Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) in collaboration with architects White Design and Bristol City Council.

It is looking to support individuals and communities to create affordable homes by unlocking “microsites” for development – such as corner plots, spaces in between houses or at the end of larger gardens.

The project is an example of citizen-led housing and has brought local people, academics, designers and policy-makers together to explore and develop new approaches.

The first test home was built in Knowle West by ModCell, employing local tradespeople in the construction. The house is made from timber and compressed straw, making it environmentally friendly.

The We Can Make home by Filwood Community Centre in Knowle West. Image. George Hywell.

Melissa Mean, from Knowle West Media Centre, said: “We’re delighted that the We Can Make initiative is part of this: community-led innovation is a vital part of the much-needed housing revolution.

“We Can Make is currently working with Knowle West residents, architects and partners to explore how Modern Methods of Construction can be used to develop housing locally at our digital manufacturing hub KWMC: The Factory – affordable and sustainable homes that meet residents’ housing needs.”

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said: “Building enough affordable housing is one of the biggest challenges we face across the country, and as a city we are not afraid to explore innovative ways of delivering better value, high quality, homes…”

As part of this project, the council will be creating jobs for local people, working with communities, reducing the environmental impact of MMC housing and minimising construction waste.

The city will also be sharing its results and methods with other local authorities across the UK – to help improve the speed of housing delivery across the country.