Looking ahead to 2022 – and the future of MMC

Box Architects CEO Graham Place takes stock after a tumultuous two years.

“You might remember my upbeat message at the end of 2019, when I was looking forward to a new decade of growth and optimism. I might even have gone as far as calling it the Roaring Twenties. Well, as lot has happened since then, hasn’t it?

Of course, no one could have predicted that a global pandemic would overshadow every part of our lives. But on reflection, Covid-19 has only exacerbated a number of issues that were already emerging, such as the climate emergency, housing crisis, labour shortages and mental health.

The climate emergency is very much with us in our sector. Buildings currently account for 40% of carbon emissions in the UK and 60% of all waste. In order to meet climate targets, and stop adding to the huge retrofit challenge, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), has given the construction industry 10 years to make all new buildings zero carbon.

At the same time, we have an ongoing need for more affordable housing, for older-life housing so our ageing population can free-up family housing for the next generations, and for sustainable accommodation for students. On a positive note, local authorities are now recognising they need to be supporters of sustainable housing solutions, not just providers of last resort.

Meanwhile, the shortage of skilled labour is putting pressure on our sector to find new, more efficient ways of building. At the same time, we’re questioning whether it is socially sustainable to have building sites that bring emissions, noise and dust to our town centres. Is it really a good use of precious resources to continue the traditional process of building and snagging on site?

At Box Architects, we can look back at our December 2019 outlook and recognise we got at least one thing right: Modern Methods of Construction are here to stay. By learning about and investing in MMC before and during the pandemic, we have put ourselves in a very strong position to meet the new challenges of the 20s.

As I write this, 56% of our projects have a MMC aspect, and clients are turning to us to help them deliver faster and cleaner MMC projects that tackle the climate emergency and reduce waste. Among the most notable is our ongoing partnership with Ilke Homes to develop their models for manufacture.

As we look forward to 2022, we’re starting a programme of Box Talks – the first focuses on MMC. The series of Box Talks will provide a forum for news, client dialogue, research and team learning, and I’d welcome input from all our newsletter readers.”

Email graham.place@boxarchitects.co.uk