Review of the UK housing history in relation to system building

Arman Hashemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Housing demands along with the unique conditions after World Wars encouraged the UK government to massively invest in prefabricated methods of construction to address the housing shortages. System building transformed the UK construction industry and greatly affected the socio-economic conditions of the UK the consequences of which are still felt. Despite several efforts of the UK government and private sector, prefabricated methods of construction have been less successful in the UK due to several reasons. This paper is a comprehensive review of the UK housing conditions with regards to housing demand and supply, economic conditions, and policies during the 20th century. The main drivers for moving towards industrial methods of constructions and high-rise flat buildings, and the influence of Modern Movement on industrial building, and mass production, as well as the reasons for the failure of such methods are evaluated and explained in detail. Although the unique post-war conditions created a proper environment for great innovations, it also caused some irreversible damages to the UK construction industry. The study concludes that the UK is currently facing similar issues and the drivers behind the application of prefabricated methods of construction (currently known as Offsite and Modern Methods of Construction) are almost identical to those of the 20th century. The UK, therefore, needs to firstly learn from its previous mistakes and secondly consider comprehensive research to evaluate and address the barriers towards broader application of such methods to avoid similar social and economic problems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-58
Number of pages12
JournalALAM CIPTA, International Journal of Sustainable Tropical Design Research and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013


  • Industrial building
  • Prefabrication
  • Modern Construction methods
  • System building
  • UK Housing


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