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Revolutionary ‘House iO’ Design Competition Aims to Tackle Homelessness in Bristol.

Totally Modular have today announced the launch of their ‘House iO’ competition in collaboration with MOBIE, Value Shift, Infill Works, Bristol Housing Festival and Department of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of West England (UWE) Bristol.

The competition asks architectural students from UWE to form teams, to design a prefabricated housing scheme. Using Totally Modular’s system, solutions using sites allocated for housing in Bristol will aim to address particular conditions of homelessness in the city.

The weeklong competition runs from Monday 8th February and finishes Friday midday 12th February. The competition is sponsored by Totally Modular (a volumetric housing manufacturer), who is providing £500 of prize money for the winning team and a chance to visit the Totally Modular factory in the West Midlands.

The number of homeless people in Bristol is on the rise – by a shocking 128% over the past three years, according to statistics from Homeless Link. In order to drive forward change to help tackle this homelessness crisis head on, collaboration is key.

This competition is hoping to highlight that modular methods of construction can help and alleviate both the housing and homeless crisis in the UK.

The competition is a great opportunity to engage students in the issues of homelessness and land use and the surrounding issues but by focusing on solution finding and innovation.

 Totally Modular’s motivations behind this revolutionary competition were to bring new entrants into the MMC arena & provide students with real life design case studies, whilst also increasing and highlighting the discussion around homelessness and its possible solutions.

Totally Modular’s concept of House iO utilises a common frame approach, maximising efficient design of the modules both internally and externally to create a cost effective design solution.

The House iO competition challenges the student’s to develop a proposal for housing that: 


  1. Responds to contemporary issues of homelessness by addressing the housing needs of new and emerging residents in the city;
  2. Uses an innovative ‘common frame’ volumetric approach that co-ordinates the manufacture of services Inside and structure and envelope Outside to create an efficient design solution.
  3. Provides housing on a real site in the city that has been identified as suitable for affordable housing &/or that can be built on for ‘meanwhile use’ – that is, demountable housing allowing future site redevelopment;
  4. Creates a safe, healthy and beautiful place for people to live in.

The head judge Mark Southgate (Chief Executive, MoBIE) will announce the winners on Friday 12TH February – with a total of £500 in prize money to be won. Mark’s expressed that MoBIE’s motivations for getting involved in this competition was because: “Connecting young people to the built environment is vital, they are the future of housing and construction. This challenge asks them to think about the role of manufacturing in housing, homelessness, temporary ‘meanwhile’ use of sites and, above all, the importance of designing for people’s needs in home design.”

“Giving students real life cases and sites to work with means they will better understand the needs of today’s housing industry and that they can see the range of career opportunities open to them upon graduation.  I can’t wait to see the amazing ideas and designs they create in this exciting challenge.”

The brief of the competition will include expert input and judging from: 

This collaboration between an innovative manufacturer, Totally Modular, and an outstanding university, creates a unique opportunity to innovate and link academic study to pathways to delivery.

Totally Modular on their inside/outside (‘House iO’) servicing/structural concept for prefabrication.

MoBIE [Ministry of Building Innovation + Education] the education charity encouraging design innovation and advanced creative thinking in 21st century living.

Values Shift who are specialist consultants in sustainable communities and homelessness.

Bristol Housing Festival – a five year project, in partnership with Bristol City Council hosting an ongoing conversation in various forms to incubate and pilot new housing solutions.

Infill Works- former UWE architecture student and founder of ‘Infill Works’ planning and architecture consultancy.

  • Judge – Ele George – Innovation Lead
  • Judge – Mark Southgate – Chief Executive
  • Judge – Zoe Metcalfe – Director
  • Judge – Jessie Wilde – Deputy Project Director
  • Judge – Oliver Sanger – Founder

All Partners include:

Totally Modular 


Bristol Housing Festival 

Value Shift

Infill Works

University of the West of England (Bristol)

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