Gateshead Innovation Village

We’re in the grip of a housing crisis, with demand for homes outstripping supply. If we’re going to tackle this crisis then 300,000 new homes need to be built every year. Yet in 2016/17 only 217,350 new houses were constructed in the UK, leaving a gap of over 82,000. Could more efficient building methods help bridge this gap?

At Gateshead Innovation Village we’re looking at new ways to address the housing crisis starting with how we can construct homes quicker, use technology smarter, and create more energy-efficient housing developments. 

It’s a live research project to build a village from scratch using a mix of traditional and modular homes, energy efficient and smart technologies and test their ongoing performance.

If we are to respond to the ongoing housing crisis we need to find new and innovative ways of tackling the issue, and modular homes, as well as wider modern methods of construction, including volumetric products, will allow us to deliver homes more efficiently.  Brian Ham, Home Group Executive Director, Development

At the end of the project, we’ll be able to see how well different modern methods of construction have performed, how they help build a community, how they integrate with smart technology and energy efficient heating systems; in other words, what housing of the future should look like

Modular home construction versus traditional building methods

We know that modular housing developments can be constructed in a fraction of the time it takes to build a "bricks and mortar" house. When demand for housing is high, speeding up the construction process means more homes become available for people sooner. But which construction methods perform the best in the short, medium and long term?

At Gateshead Innovation Village, we’re working with specialist partners to pitch traditional construction against different modular methods by building a new village of 35 modular houses, using five different house types, alongside six traditional, bricks and mortar homes.

Energy efficient and smart technology housing developments

As well as testing construction methods, we’re partnering with leading smart tech companies in the UK to see, how, if at all, smart tech can be used in social housing. We want to explore how we can deliver our mission to build independence and aspirations using technology traditionally considered out of the reach of many people in society.

We’re going to be using smart thermostats which can learn habits and ensure heating runs efficiently, therefore savings on energy bills. The use of automated lights and blinds enables homes to adapt with customer needs and mobility changes over time. Additionally, security cameras will give customers a greater sense of control and a higher level of safety in their homes. We’re also aiming to create a gas boiler free development with a focus on greener heat storage, which will be more environmentally friendly than the norm. 

A handful of our modular homes will be fitted with smart tech, but all of our homes will have sensors which means we can compare performance and the experience of living with, and without, the different technologies. Our partners will be supporting with the research and ongoing monitoring of the tech performance in different building types and with various heat solutions. This will in turn help us to learn which technologies the construction industry should invest in.

A new community

Once the village is built our customers will have the opportunity to move in and create a brand new community. They’ll have a vital role to play in our research by sharing their experiences of the housing type and technology.