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Centre for Digital Built Britain

 

The Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research (CCHPR) is a research centre within the University of Cambridge’s Department of Land Economy. With over 25 years’ experience of research in policy evaluation and analysis, as well as expertise in housing, poverty and welfare reforms, CCHPR’s key strength is in understanding the complexity of current housing issues and being able to deliver policy-relevant research.

Housing Network Report[FINAL REPORT] [Appendix] - https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.40452

Housing sits at the heart of many wider social issues, and it will sit at the heart of the development of a Digital Built Britain (DBB). The Housing Digital Built Britain Network will focus its attention on residential housing: delivering DBB is not simply about technological solutions to make supply and maintenance more efficient, although this is important, it is also about understanding how those solutions and efficiency gains interact with wider social policy issues to address UK housing inequalities.   

The network will build on CCHPR’s recent research for CDBB, which looked at the need for innovation in construction and experimentation with new forms of housing delivery, such as modular housing. Our report reflected the ‘state of the nation’ and summarised the opportunities and barriers to the uptake of digital tools, standards and processes (Building Information Modelling) in innovations found in the UK house building sector. 

The Housing Digital Built Britain Network will bring together academics, practitioners, policy makers and government to facilitate dialogue and determine the key areas of inquiry in relation to residential housing and DBB. Working with these partners, CCHPR will determine the priority issues for investigation, mapping them onto the CDBB framework and developing position papers which will form the key areas of focus for our research. It is our aim to scope out a research programme to meet the needs of UK plc in delivering affordable, sustainable and inclusive housing in a Digital Built Britain. 

Position paper 1: How can digital tools and technologies support independent living for older people, now and into the future?

For more information, and to keep up to date with the Housing Digital Built Britain Network, please visit CCHPR’s website www.cchpr.landecon.cam.ac.uk and follow us on Twitter. 

Our first event, a dynamic workshop attended by industry experts and academics, was held at Trinity Hall in Cambridge at the end of July, and several position papers will be generated by the CCHPR team, with the support of network members, as a result of the ideas that came out of the workshop. The first position paper from the Digital Built Britain Housing Network was published in August 2018, and focused on digitisation and housing an ageing population. It is considered that allowing people to 'age in place' has benefits for all and this has become a major thrust underpinning UK policy on older people and housing -  consequently this is an area ripe for research. With today's society facing the prospect of housing an ever-increasing proportion of older people with complex housing and support needs, the myriad developments in new technology have the potential to provide solutions for these needs. The position paper sets these out.

Our second position paper, due for publication at the beginning of October, will look at off-site manufacture (OSM) and its potential to help UK plc satisfy housing demand through the use of non-traditional construction techniques and methods. Digitisation and OSM have been hampered in the past by recognised barriers to innovation in the construction sector, including procurement, concerns about financial reward and patchy collaboration between industry, academia and research associations. The position paper identifies a number of areas for further research and draws a picture of an industry with an appetite for innovation and for a greater understanding of the value of off-site manufacture of housing to both the industry and UK households.

Our next discussion event will take place in November and invitations will be sent out shortly.

The network will build on CCHPR’s recent research for CDBB which looked at the need for innovation in construction and experimentation with new forms of housing delivery such as modular housing. Our report reflected the ‘state of the nation’ and summarised the opportunities and barriers to the uptake of digital tools, standards and processes (Building Information Modelling) in innovations found in the UK house building sector.

The objectives of the network will be to facilitate dialogue between key stakeholders in relation to the construction, management, servicing and lived experience of housing in the development of DBB; to determine the key questions that should be the priority for investigation; to scope out the existing literature in relation to these questions; to identify the gaps in knowledge and gaps in capabilities; and to use this evidence base to scope out a research programme to meet the needs of UK plc in delivering affordable, sustainable and inclusive housing in a DBB.

Position Paper 2: What is the role of off-site housing manufacture in a Digital Built Britain? -

The second position paper produced by the Housing Network looks at the potential for off-site housing manufacture to address the shortage of housing in the UK.

There has been very little written about how digital technologies are used in off-site housing manufacture: this rapid evidence review outlines the policy background and attempts to establish the gaps in knowledge that will help UK plc capture the benefits of emerging BIM technology, and use these to leverage the benefits of off-site manufacturing in the UK housing construction industry. 

Position Paper 3: How will the UK govern, manage and maintain housing stock in a Digital Built Britain?

Position Paper 3: How will the UK govern, manage and maintain housing stock in a Digital Built Britain? -

The third position paper produced by the Digital Built Britain Housing Network looks at how UK plc could govern, manage and maintain housing stock in a digital built Britain.

The paper looks at this very key issue. With housing sitting at the heart of many social, economic and environmental issues, harnessing digital tools to govern, manage and maintain housing stock in the UK has the potential to have a dramatic impact on housing in UK plc, despite the variations in tenure across the sector.

This is a working paper: if you have feedback on this topic, or are interested in collaborating in further research in this area, please contact Dr Gemma Burgess on glb36@cam.ac.uk.

Position Paper 4: How could better use of data and digital technologies improve housing delivery through the UK planning system?

The fourth and final position paper produced by the Digital Built Britain Housing Network looks at the current use of data and digital technologies employed across the housing sector, and seeks to understand how better use of innovation in planning could improve housing delivery in the UK.

Current research and evidence points to the increasing, albeit fragmented, adoption of innovative technological approaches to different elements of the planning process. Taking into account the constraints on the wider use of data and digitisation, and encouraged by existing innovations, the report identifies a number of key areas for further research. 

Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research welcome enquiries from individuals or organisations interested in the Digital Built Britain Housing Network. For more information, please contact Dr Gemma Burgess