Member leads largest UK temporary accommodation project

Emergency housing from containers

CIAT Members have been working on the UK's largest temporary accommodation project, making innovative use of shipping containers. 

Design Lead Roman Schnecker MCIAT and Director and Project Consultant John Smith MCIAT of Cityzen worked with QED, both Sussex-based, to develop a container solution for emergency accommodation for homeless people in the Borough of Ealing. 

The challenge took just 10 months from concepts to tenants moving in, and helped Ealing Council provide homes for up to 280 people before Christmas who would otherwise be in bed and breakfast accommodation.

John Smith has been working on container designs since 2005 and Cityzen have been assisting QED in developing container design solutions since late 2012.  In this latest project with QED, Cityzen has designed properties which provide a emergency temporary housing solution on a derelict site in Acton, based around 20ft container units.  This particular site has a seven year site use at which point the units will be dismantled and taken to another site so the team had to think not only how to build it quickly,  but how it will be dismantled and reused.

The site comprises 60 apartments based around Cityzen’s layout design of 1,2 or 3 adjoining container units. In total Cityzen produced 315 drawings to enable this project, with every container having unique data sheets to track its build from the design process, through the factory and to delivery to site.

The methodology is very different to a traditional build in which there is time to change an element 'on the fly'. With modular construction any issues stop the production line, so the designers have had to be very reactionary to pre-empt any problems and questions that the different manufacturers might have.

From the start a strict cloud based library for information, RFIs and changes was used, which helped monitor the manufacturer's questions and ensured nothing got missed and that all parties were kept up to date when changes were made.

Throughout the project the team kept a close eye on the Energy Performance of the units to provide tenants with a comfortable environment whilst ensuring that they were affordable for Ealing council to run.

The designers worked closely with private building control and fire specialists to check the design prior to the units going to the local Building Control, putting the methodologies of construction together to ensure, build-ability, general requirements of building regulations especially thermal performance, fire performance and the employers' requirements.

For more information check the Cityzen website:

Pictures below show the interior of the units, and  John Smith MCIAT (left) with Roman Schnecker MCIAT.