Welcome to our blog, written by members of the QED team.

This is an outlet for news, observations on renewable energy, sustainable development, urban regeneration and movable buildings and even the occasional rant! (Please note these do not necessarily represent the opinions of QED as a corporate entity).

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Brighton shipping containers installation - week 5

Call Good Energy first thing to confirm the CT ratio (I don’t know what that is/does either). Things continue to progress methodically with the stairs and walkways providing access to another floor. University of Brighton Professors x 2 (one taught me a few years back), come to site to have a look around and discuss decide how to set up the monitoring equipment. Sensors and data collectors will record internal temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels as well as energy consumption for analysis.

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Brighton shipping containers installation - week 4

Where do you start with utilities companies! The week does not start well, despite permission of highways, traffic management plans and several on site preparation meetings power is not brought to site over the weekend as expected and this will impact our program. On a positive note the plumber is almost through with connecting the mechanical fixings on block 1.

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Brighton shipping containers installation - week 2 & 3

Time is hard to come by at the moment. We’ve been onsite over the weekend. So this latest blog update on the containers takes a predominately picture form.

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Brighton shipping containers installation - week 1

At QED we’ve been blown away by all the interest we’ve had in our development for Brighton Housing Trust to provide temporary accommodation. So I thought i’d run some diary posts detailing whats been going on each week.

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Containers solution to the housing crisis

There is a housing crisis in the UK. Do containers present a possible solution?

There is little doubt that the UK housing market is a mess. Housebuilding is on a long term downward trend and completions are at a disgraceful level. Fortunes are being spent on Emergency Accommodation by local authorities while a multi action legal case is building against these same authorities for breaching the 6 week B&B law.

The problem – reflective of a general increase in wealth inequality – is it is extremely hard for any young person today to get on the housing ladder without parental help. A lack of supply and diversity has pushed prices (to rent and buy) out of the reach of many, with an inevitable outcome, Shelter found more than 75,000 households to be homeless in 2011/12 with more than 50,000 households currently living in temporary accommodation in England alone. Unfortunately, for too long now government and local authorities busy themselves and external consultants with reports but very little change ever emerges.

Two projects; YMCA London and QED / Brighton Housing Trust have caught the media’s eye as grassroots organisations look for practical, affordable and quick solutions to the mounting problem of homelessness and the lack of suitable temporary housing.

So where so do containers fit into all this? Well, containers offer a highly transportable, modular, affordable and plentiful (in the west anyway) supply of what are essentially large lego bricks or building blocks. Containers can be used to build quickly, a range of structures from a very temporary shelter through to a sophisticated permanent home; Infiniski Manifesto House, Chile and lots in-between. In fact, it might surprise you that containers, one of the starkest symbols of consumerism and globalisation, maintain a number of the characteristics you might look for in a sustainable building block – appropriate size and scale, a modular nature, compatibility with off site construction methods, easily transportable with standardised equipment at low cost, low embodied energy, durable, adaptable, quick to build, de-constructable and suitable for re-use.

For me there is no doubt that container architecture has a significant role to play in diversifying our built environment. However, I do not think that there is any question that the temporary provision of moveable container accommodation such as the project I am involved in is any more than a part fix not a solution. We expect our simple interim fix on land that would otherwise sit idle, to show what is possible, become a well functioning development and a positive demonstration tool for temporary accommodation in the UK.

In terms of solving the wider problem, I’d like to see the introduction of a much simplified outline planning system that encourages better design and removes a lot of the cost and bureaucracy from the process, together with an acceptance and recognition of the valuable role temporary or interim use has to play in urban development.

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