Research underpins our practice. Rather than an activity preceding design, it is integral to design and we regard it as a vital discipline that exists beyond the lifespan of individual projects.
Our research currently focuses on two of the world’s most pressing issues; the climate emergency and the shortage of housing. In an increasingly urbanized world, real estate developers, engineers, and architects have a responsibility to work collaboratively and find creative solutions to improve and protect our built environment.
With the advance of technology and material innovation, we now have the ability to radically rethink the way we have been building. For over a decade Peter Rose + Partners has been committed to research into sustainable solutions and investigating the possibilities of engineered timber, a renewable and sustainable building material that is strong, malleable and beautiful.
As a response to climate change, our Low2No master plan for the Jätkäsaari neighborhood in Finland proposed a holistic set of sustainable solutions for a low to no carbon community, deploying high density, accessible public transit, performative landscaping, maximized natural light and ventilation, and modular, flexible housing made of cross-laminated timber.
More recently the environmental conversation has become less about mere energy and more about carbon reduction. With the building industry generating nearly 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, we need to avoid materials and methods with massive amounts of embedded carbon in order to repay the carbon debt. This makes wood incredibly important and engineered timber the best form of industrialised building.
We conducted in-depth research into the state of the construction industry in North America one of the goals of which was to improve and modernize the housing industry and develop a modular housing prototype that would be of high quality and increase construction efficiencies.
Analysis of parallel trades, such as aviation, technology, and automobile industries uncovered transferable lessons that can be applied to architecture.
The construction industry is a paradox. The annual global growth rate is more than 3%, but the sector is in crisis: prices are soaring, jobs remain unfilled, and demand far outstrips supply. The crisis can be attributed to one broad shortcoming: unlike almost every other industry, construction has been reluctant to modernize and thereby boost its productivity. The car factory of 2019 looks nothing like the car factory of 1919, whereas the construction site has hardly changed during that time.”
- Boston Consulting Group,
“The Offsite Revolution in Construction”, 2019
Key lessons from other industries which we have applied to our system:
An integrated team of designers, engineers, shop fabricators, site fabricators, supply chain managers, etc.
Reduced number of parts and suppliers (via the optimization of materials, design, processes, and subassemblies).
Hyper management of supply chain.
Radical reduction of labor via computation, robotization, and material innovation
Kaizen - review, critique, improve; review, critique, improve; repeat
Given the desperate shortage of good quality, affordable homes, we need to invest in well-designed solutions that can be built with speed and economic efficiency. Off-site construction and fabrication of housing, particularly with cross-laminated timber, can directly address this issue. Parts can be manufactured off-site and shipped, either in modules or panels and be assembled on-site with increased speed and precision and reduced time and risk.
Currently, we are invested in applying these principles to urban environments through affordable housing solutions and multi-family housing developments. By considering supply chain logistics, fabrication, transportation and assembly, we have developed a flexible kit-of-parts system that can respond to site, program and local building codes.