The Study Brief

This Community First study was launched to explore a radical solution to a key question:

“Can we create efficient community space which meets the demands of sustainability in all its entire dimension?”

Using Herefordshire as our base area, and in partnership with “Architype”, green award winning local architects, we set out to test the feasibility of creating and marketing a modular based community building design system which:

  • maximised the potential for active community engagement
  • achieved the highest levels of environmental and running cost sustainability
  • could be used across the country in a variety of sizes and configurations to meet the widest range of different needs.

The methodology: Architype

  • conducted desktop and phone research to determine whether  relevant designs already existed nationally and internationally
  • analysed the community involvement potential of different self-build methods of construction to determine the best option
  • working on the basis of core community building use specification provided by Community First, produced and obtained indicative build and running cost figures on a modular build community space system

Community First’s Community Buildings Development Officer

  • presented the design proposals to a sample of Herefordshire community building committees with needs for replacement halls and obtained feedback
  • repeated the exercise with community building advisers from across England and obtained their feedback on its national applicability
  • explored possibilities for trainee involvement

The Results

A modular build system solution has been created with a wide range of potential uses:

  • able to be built with volunteer and trainee labour input
  • with a variety of sizes and configurations
  • and a range of cladding options to suit the local vernacular
  • designed to the highest European levels of energy performance, achieving ‘passivhaus’ standard
  • with projected running costs 70-80% lower than conventional construction to current UK regulations
  • with an indicative build cost of £1,550 -1,600/sqm without any allowance for free labour input.

Both potential client committees and community building advisers gave an
overwhelmingly positive response when presented with the concept. All local fur ther education providers saw significant potential for trainee involvement in construction

The proposal

Following this clear demonstration of the concept potential, we propose to
seek funding to undertake a full feasibility which would take the project up to pilot build stage.


We also produced and explanatory video detailing the project.

Full Report

Please see the full report, available for download below.