BIMcrunch visits Spacehus: Building Information Modelling for zero carbon homes

Credit: Kristen McCluskie
Credit: Kristen McCluskie

BIMcrunch’s office in Newcastle is close to a brand-new housing complex in Blyth, Northumberland that is offering rental tenants the chance to leave fuel poverty behind for a zero carbon, ‘zero bills’ lifestyle that BIM implementation has made possible. We thought to pop in and see Spacehus for ourselves.

Four Spacehus dwellings – either two or three bed – make up the Valleydale Mews complex that is the brainchild of Space Group’s CEO, Rob Charlton. He devised the plan and got his Volula team to work on the project after he read a report explaining 77,000 homes in the North East of England had experienced energy debt.

“The Spacehus home is intended to be a low waste, zero energy and zero bills building approach and we feel the launch of this first development is particularly timely due to recent reports on energy debt and fuel poverty,” explained Charlton.

“There’s been a lot of talk around energy companies failing to pass on lower costs to their customers, and this provides an affordable alternative for the region’s families and young working professionals.

“The aim is to take this model and apply it nationally which is a really exciting prospect for us.”

Since our tour of the sustainable site, offers have been rolling for Volula to deliver additional Spacehus homes across the United Kingdom. National application of the inspirational business model may happen very soon indeed!

The Spacehus development is inspired by Swedish building and off-site manufacturing techniques, the latter of which has real potential to combat the UK’s housing shortage. Although on a smaller scale to the recently reported Laing O’Rourke housing manufacture factory, it is encouraging to see that similar BIM-related projects are already taking place, and without a Government injection.

Volula Architectural Technologist, Ryan Wigham provided us with exclusive comment regarding the utilisation of BIM on the project. He said:

“The Spacehus design was developed via the use of BIM that enabled a collaborative approach to be adopted between the architectural, structural and services teams resulting in a coordinated 3D model issued to contractors early in the tender process. This resulted in M&E workshops with the installers that demonstrated the planned routes of the M&E ducts, and enabled them to carry out clash detection and redirect ducts if needed in conjunction with experienced installers.

“In keeping with the ethos of Spacehus, a quantification process was created in the Revit model that allowed us to minimise waste by planning and monitoring the use of materials on site such as insulation setting out.

“Prefabricating as much of the development as possible to limit work on-site cut costs and time, pairing really well with the efficiencies a BIM workflow brought to the table.”

To view a selection of images of the project, visit the official Flickr gallery.

For more on Spacehus, visit the brand’s official website, or follow them on Twitter.

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