Bridport building project


Wessex Community Assets (Bridport) and the University of Plymouth are collaborating on the participatory co-creation of sustainable community housing and material futures.
Through action research, we will develop a co-design methodology following a systems thinking approach, responding to broader multi-dimensional environmental and socio-economic challenges in coastal communities and economies.


This project follows a prior EPSRC-funded initiative on digital fabrication of housing building elements. Here we identified the need to address local challenges through place-based and multidimensional ‘systems thinking’ challenges, with design activity prompting and stimulating discussion and exchange beyond housing stock into environmental, social and material issues surrounding communities’ envisioning of local futures. 
The project will support Bridport’s transition towards a greener and more inclusive community housing delivery plan by stimulating place-based co-creation methodologies with designers, builders, local communities, and supply chain stakeholders involved in housing delivery. We have a track record of investigating sustainable architectural materials and making for local development, demonstrated by research outputs and partnerships supported by prior EPSRC and internal (University of Plymouth) funding, institutional strides towards green transitions in construction (Sustainable Earth Institute) and coastal communities (Centre for Coastal Communities and its ‘researcher in residence’ approach).


To advance design research on systems thinking for sustainable design innovation within a coastal community discourse. 
To develop a novel place-based Living Lab methodology and two shareable case studies enacting green transition principles for the architecture and construction sectors.
To document and map our case studies against Bridport's human and environmental geographies. In doing so, capturing and effectively communicating our ‘systems thinking’ approach to wider audiences.
Bridport project
Materials bridport project
Community builders bridport project
Materials bridport project

Design in residence

The need for a design research intervention responds to the place-based nature of our research and its fitness with a ‘designer in residence’ (DIR) approach. This follows a tradition of research-in-residence in the University of Plymouth’s Centre for Coastal Communities, advocating for more embedded research facilitating knowledge coproduction and mobilisation. 
Here, we don’t see a DIR approach exclusively as a means to gain access to communities and stimulate participation, but more ambitiously as a pathway to impact by directly designing with end users rather than waiting for research results to ‘find their way’ into the community. We expect this approach to additionally impact on interrelated issues such as development of local skills and capacity building, changes in ways of working, and influencing local policy and community housing delivery frameworks.

Related projects

Participatory Housing Manufacturing

Digital production technologies are often devoid from the communities they are expected to support, increasing the gap between digital innovation and local skills, materials and knowledge. Throughout a year, this project challenged this techno-centric approach to innovation and explores the intersections between distributed, standard manufacturing technology and local, specialised forms of community housing production in Bridport.

100 Factories

In partnership with Open Systems Lab, this project will develop a series of technical specifications and material passports to enable local SMEs to participate in the supply chain of Wikihouse components. Through a codesign methodology involving our partners Maahee’s Way Ltd and Woodlab Ltd, we expect those developments to support SMEs entering the industrialised construction sector, accelerating housing manufacturing and the UK net-zero agenda.
This project is funded by the Forestry Commission (Timber in Construction Innovation Fund) between 2023 and 2025.

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