First sustainable social housing project ready to leave the factory for Alness tenants

Highland Councillors paid a visit yesterday (Monday, 10th August) to a pioneering project providing a completely new concept in social housing. 

Local ward members and members of the Council’s Planning, Development & Infrastructure Committee were inspecting the first prototype of one bedroom apartments commissioned by Highland Council for Kendal Court in Alness. 

Developed and designed by Inverness based social housing company JNESpace and manufactured by Carbon Dynamic in its factory in Invergordon, this social housing project is the first of its kind in Scotland and delivers fully assembled buildings which are ready for tenants to move into on delivery to site.

Each with its own independent access and balcony, the eight one bedroom apartments are being manufactured and completely fitted out and furnished in Carbon Dynamic’s Invergordon factory. They are designed to ensure superb levels of comfort, thermal performance and energy efficiency and the project partners are in discussion with Napier University to rigorously monitor the energy usage of the flats over the next few years.  

The prototype project is the fruition of a collaborative development undertaken by JNESpace and Carbon Dynamic. JNESpace Director Andrew Bruce said: “We formed our company in 2008 because we felt a solution was needed to help address the huge challenge of social housing shortages. Over a number of years we developed the concept of modular, timber based social housing using CLT, cross laminated timber, a material used widely abroad but less so here in Scotland. 

We have been delighted to work with the team at Carbon Dynamic and bring our vision to life with them, thanks to their experience in innovative offsite modular manufacture. The Highland Council’s support in commissioning this important project is an example to councils throughout Scotland.” 

Matt Stevenson, Managing Director at Carbon Dynamic said: “We are really excited about our first social housing project as these buildings present a viable, affordable and practical alternative to traditional buildings used in social housing. Using natural materials that perform dynamically over time combined with innovative design means we can create energy efficient buildings and tackle fuel poverty in a much smarter way, from the inside out. It has been a great collaboration to which we have been able to offer our sustainable modular design and manufacturing expertise."

Each sustainable apartment will take less than 3 weeks to complete off-site with even the pitched roof manufactured in the factory and then craned into place in a single day.  

Councillor Audrey Sinclair, Chair of Highland Council’s, Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee said: “This is a very exciting way in which we are addressing housing needs in the community. These innovative one-bedroomed units are built to a high quality, easy to install, extremely well-insulated making them inexpensive to heat. They can be built more quickly and to higher quality than traditional homes as they are built at the factory and then transported to site - saving both in time and material wastage and hence cost. The Council will be monitoring the feedback of future tenants and the findings of this project at Kendal Court in Alness. If successful, we hope that these are the first of many more to come.” 

This unique social housing project is a great success story for local business collaboration. JNESpace and Carbon Dynamic are also working with Simpson Builders in Beauly to construct and assemble the site works ahead of installation in September; Inverness blacksmiths DMH for the pre-fabricated stairs and balconies and Treecraft Woodwork in Dornoch for the windows. All the architectural and engineering design work is by local companies HRI Architects and Fairhurst. The modular structural engineering was provided by engineers, Applied Engineering Design (AED) of Edinburgh. 

Off-site manufacture has meant the site works and foundations can be carried out at the same time as the modules are being manufactured in the factory leading to a significantly shorter overall programme. The apartments will be complete and ready for tenants to move into in October 2015.

11 Aug 2015