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Integrated M&E services


ARCHITECT Cartwright Pickard, designer of Peabody Trust's award-winning Murray Grove development, has teamed up with leading timber-frame manufacturer Pace Timber Systems to create a new off-site building system called Optima Homes.

Whereas Murray Grove was based on volumetric units, Optima is a 'small panel open frame' system in which panels are delivered to site almost completely finished, with ducts ready to accept services and only the minimum of dry-lining required.

Architect James Pickard says: 'We believe this is the only system of its kind to have totally integrated M&E built into the panels.We have managed to reduce the amount of second-fix to a minimum, and yet the system is extremely flexible - it can look however you want it to.'

Primarily aimed at the social housing sector, Optima is being promoted as a solution to the problem of a severe and worsening shortage of affordable homes in the UK.After three years in development, the system was launched earlier this year with its first order - a £500,000 contract for 10 houses and two bungalows in Dumfries for the Home Group - set for delivery in January.