Smith’s Dock

North Shields, UK

This housing development in North Shields was elevated above the norm by introduction of architect-designed timber modular systems that could be configured to suit the requirements of the home buyer. Expedition provided the engineering knowledge and manufacturing experience to ensure that the vision was brought to life efficiently and to a high standard.

Modular timber construction offered flexibility and speed of construction for a neighbourhood of architect-designed houses built as part of the Urban Splash redevelopment of a former shipyard in the northeast of England.

The Smith’s Dock development features a crescent of 24, three-storey townhouses, designed by architect ShedKM and manufactured by SIG Building Systems – now part of Urban Splash – and a row of ten Fab House homes designed by George Clarke and TDO Architecture. All were built using modular timber construction, with its acknowledged benefits of speed of construction and low embodied carbon; in this case also stylish aesthetics.

Each townhouse consists of three, single-storey timber-framed modules, which were prefabricated and fully fitted out in a controlled factory environment, before being transported to site by road and craned into position. Speed of construction was rapid, with up to eight modules erected in a single day.

In contrast to many conventional modular building designs, aesthetics was given high priority, and Expedition’s role was to ensure that the architects’ visions were not diluted in the delivery process. We contributed in-depth experience of design for manufacture and assembly, with structural engineering design services covering the global and local design of the timber structures, and the connections both within the modules and between them at assembly. Our role also included advice on the practicalities of off-site manufacture and on-site installation.

Careful detailing was needed on the exposed internal timberwork of the Fab House, to meet the required aesthetics, and it was a refreshing challenge to work on designs that broke away from the boring stereotype of modular construction.

Urban Splash’s House concept allows purchasers to customise the internal living arrangements to suit their own needs, with the light, spacious and energy-efficient structural shell.


Key People

Key People