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Competition: Trent Basin Home Manufacturers, Nottingham

Blueprint has launched a design and delivery competition for a series of innovative custom build units at Trent Basin in Nottingham, UK (Deadline: 15 July)

The developer is seeking six architect-led ‘Home Manufacturer’ teams to provide high-quality bespoke dwellings across the city-centre regeneration site.

Inspired by Dutch and German custom build projects, the international competition comes a year after the joint venture formed of Nottingham City Council and developer Igloo completed a micro-pilot of seven made-to-order homes nearby.



Custom build at Trevenson Park South in Pool, Cornwall

In a bid to raise the profile of custom-build housing in the UK, the firm is elsewhere pioneering 54 kit-of-parts homes (pictured) – designed by Mae, AOC, Ash Sakula and HTA – at Trevenson Park South in Pool, Cornwall.

Announcing the contest, Blueprint chief executive and Igloo vice chair Nick Ebbs said: ‘I have long been struck by the different approaches to housing adopted around the world and how they seem overseas to be able to offer purchasers larger homes and more choice without charging them more.

‘The alchemy lies in separating the house from the plot, selling purchasers a serviced plot where they can then fund the build themselves working with a specialist home manufacturer.’

He continued: ‘When the recession struck my colleagues and I at Igloo decided to research this more deeply, visiting Holland, Germany, New Zealand and Japan.

‘We learnt that, with some adaptations, the overseas custom build housing model could deliver tens of thousands more homes each year in the UK. Given that over 50 per cent of the adult population want to design their dream home at some point in their lives, the potential speaks for itself.’



Source: Image by Mat Fascione

Trent Basin

Designed by local practice Marsh Grochowski, the 3.5 hectare Trent Basin project will create around 500 new homes overlooking the Lady Bay nature reserve.

Around 100 custom build dwellings are planned for various locations across the site and the winning teams will deliver an initial phase of 25 units.

Blueprint will provide standard-sized serviced plots with planning permission and will also identify customers who will select one of the home manufacturers for their preferred house type and size.

The custom build partners will develop costed and deliverable base designs for 2, 3 and 4 bedroom homes with options for customisation. The home manufacturer must also win reserved matters planning for each unit and provide a recognised warranty for all completed homes.

A shortlist of teams will be invited to participate in the design and delivery competition this summer following an expressions of interest round.

How to apply


15 July

Contact details

Jon Sawyer
Head of Custom Build Housing
Igloo Regeneration
Dale House
35 Dale Street
M1 2HF


Contact the contest organiser for more information

S-House case study: Q&A with Daniël Bakker

The team member at VMX Architects discusses designing a custom build family house in IJburg, Amsterdam



S-House by VMX Architects

How did your S-House custom build project respond to its immediate context and meet its users’ needs?

The concept of the house can be seen as a patio house turned on its side. Our clients’ main requirement was an outdoor space where they could enjoy the sun but they bought a plot with a garden facing north. By manipulating the building regulations, which didn’t allow balconies and a maximum of 25 per cent openings in the south facade (meant for windows), we created an double-height patio space to be able to deliver a sunny outdoor space.

What material, structural, spatial and other techniques are important when designing custom build homes in new developments such as IJburg or Trent Basin?

The most fascinating aspect of designing a custom build home is that we as designers have to completely understand the (often unspoken and unwritten) demands, habits and needs of the family. We try to pay tribute to their way of living and their community feeling with our design interventions. Methods for this are spaces where they can find their privacy and spaces where we force them to have interaction.

How would you set about designing a custom build house which could be adapted for different occupiers and replicated across several plots alongside other custom build designs?

Although the idea is of course conflicting with the principle of a custom made project, it is fascinating. How unique are we? Would there be a family in another country/continent, another climate or another culture that could be living in the same house? We think so.



S-House by VMX Architects