3 min read
02 Nov 2022

Smile Homes first installation – bespoke modular homes for people with complex needs

By Steve Batson

Stephen George + Partners (SGP) is celebrating the first installation of ADS Independent Living Solutions’ (ADS) Smile Homes® personalised modular homes at Portland College near Mansfield. Co-funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s research and innovation agency, the home delivers a new standard in sustainable, intelligent buildings for independent living, supporting people with complex needs to live a full and active life.

SGP worked closely with David Adams, Chief Executive of ADS, supporting the project and creating flexible and practical designs. This first live Smile Homes® installation will be used as a living lab and to demonstrate its flexible technology infrastructure, which can support a range of systems for integrated building, environment and personal management.

Explains Steve Batson, Studio Director at SGP: “I think of the concept in automotive terms. Manufacturers have models of their cars which individual clients can customise to their own exact requirements. Smile Homes® are the residential version of this, creating a new form of modality to enable the space to be configured to match an individual’s own needs. Smile Homes® will help push back against the lack of homes suitable for people with complex needs, avoiding the human cost of putting people into inappropriate or out-of-area accommodation as well as the monetary cost of adapting existing buildings into less than ideal solutions.”

David Adams, Chief Executive of ADS said: “Our intelligent Smile Homes® system is a transformational change in the delivery of personalised homes for independent living for people with different abilities and complex needs. 

We are delighted to have completed this milestone with our first Smile Homes® installation at Portland College.  We are looking forward to using this platform to drive innovation and delivery to enable people to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives in a home of their own, in a community of their choosing, which meets their needs and wishes.”

Smile Homes® are constructed off-site and delivered as a fully completed personalised home. The building comes pre-fitted with a technology backbone and can be programmed to function as the user needs, creating a person-centred system to support routines and sensory needs.

Explains Steve Batson: “We chose MMC as I’d worked with modular buildings before and knew some of its limitations, but also the great benefits the methodology could bring to the project, such as the speed of delivery, ease of on-site installation, high quality materials and value for money, especially compared to traditional construction methods.”

Dr Mark Dale, Principal of Portland College, a centre of learning for people with a wide range of disabilities and the site of the first Smile Homes® unit, concluded on seeing the installation: “Smile Homes® is a fantastic example of exploiting technology to address major health, social and wellbeing issues, bringing innovation to the challenges of building fully accessible housing for people with disabilities and a range of medical conditions, using environmentally sustainable technology. “

Continues Steve: “We were keen to put the emphasis on “home”, making the internal and external design contemporary and deliberately residential. We expressed residential features, such as the entrance, and we highlighted some elements to break down the façade, and added others such as clerestory windows and a roof light in the living area to create a sense of place within home. Where there is a flat roof, its structure can support a sedum roof, for aesthetic reasons or sustainable ones, improving biodiversity and slowing rainwater run-off.”

A 15m x 5m external dimension was chosen to balance the need for a spacious home with a compact structure that could be installed virtually anywhere, particularly when using screw piles as foundations. In addition to the planning benefit of having minimal physical impact on the site, the unit also comes with customisable external finishes to allow it to blend in with the existing surroundings. Each unit can be built as a single home, or combined to make a small community, grouped together in a variety of layouts, such as a courtyard cluster.

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