Published 18th March 2019

Enter this exciting new MOBIE & THE CONSTRUCTION INNOVATION HUB (CIH) Student Design Challenge 2019

Mobie is founded by George Clarke

Who Can Enter?

The entry categories are 11-14 years, 14-16 years, 16 plus (including FE &HE)

How To enter

To become involved please register your school, college, number of team, age categories on the MOBIE website

If you wish to discuss the challenge further or you have any questions please contact MOBIE’s Head of Education, Gerry Ruffles:

The details as to the size, format, photos, models, videos, and range of your design submissions will be sent to you upon registration and available on our website.

Closing Date for Entries

Your design proposal and presentations should be submitted by Friday 26th April 2019.

DESIGN BRIEF - Background:

A 21st Century home for Life: From ‘Starter to the Multi-Generational Family

‘Home is the most important piece of architecture in our lives’ says George Clarke, MOBIE Founder. Our homes are ‘our corner of the world’, where we ‘take root’ day after day. Expressions such as ‘home is where the heart is’ and ‘no place like home, tell us that the ‘home’ is an emotional need, not just a physical one.  So often nowadays people think they are buying a home, but they are actually buying a house.  The 21st century home must not just be about a pretty building that celebrates construction, but a series of spaces that have meaning and heart. We must design and build places in which people can ‘live’ and ‘homes for life’. Home isn’t just where you live, it is how you live. Home is always about people.

We are currently living in the homes predicted and designed decades ago.  The home of the future should always challenge architects, designing through the prism of today’s technologies and lifestyles.

This design challenge is asking you to think about the 21st century home. How do people actually live in their homes and what things like technology, affordability, size, space (private and shared), family growth, comfort, individuality, work, entertainment, aesthetics must we consider when designing new family homes?

The way we live is rapidly changing and creating social and lifestyle challenges. 70% of the over 60’s live in houses with too much space, 35% use their homes for work whereas only 5% of 16-25 year olds use their homes for work.  Over four million employees now regularly work from home.  By 2020 only a quarter of 30-year olds will own their own home, and a similar percentage will still be living with their parents.  Childcare, healthcare and cultural needs mean grandparents are increasingly becoming co-habitants of the family home. This is the “the sandwich generation”.

Are we creating the right kind of homes for the future? Let us design not just the first home for those starting out but accommodating growth in accordance with life’s expanding needs.  Thus, enabling the inclusion of the extending family and multi-generational living.

It is also vitally important that we embrace Modern Methods of Construction.  Digital Technologies, efficient construction processes, technical manufacturing and modular construction to build homes that are affordable, economic, social and sustainable, not just in their construction but also their use.

The Design Brief

As tomorrow’s designers you are asked to create a ‘Home for Life’.  A home in which you and/or a partner, children, parents, grandparents,  extended family, will love and want to live, that will meet everyone’s needs.

The home will be of modular ‘pod’ construction to be offsite manufactured in a factory and transported to location.

The concept of this ‘home for life’ begins with a ‘starter’ home for a single person possibly with a partner.  As the family needs and circumstances increase, the home and space will be extended with the addition and attachment of new modules.  Thus, a home for the multi-generational family can be created.  This modular system will allow for disassembly and affordable re-location with minimum disruption and re-modelling if and when required and eventual down-sizing.


MOBIE and the Construction Innovation Hub (CIH) are your clients and manufacturers for this house.


  • Your design should be based upon a modular steel structure comprised of a series of pods or cubes. The cubes are fabricated from 150mm box section steel and measuring externally 3m x 3m x 3m.  You have at this stage of the design process a maximum number of sixteen steel pods available.  Allowing for wall thickness, this will provide an internal space of 96sqm providing for a maximum, 3-bedroom, 5-person home. (See attached module drawings. The wall thicknesses shown here are for your guidance, you should allow for minimum wall requirements in your designs). The roof detail will be included into the uppermost cubes, no separate pitched or sloping modules will be fabricated.

  • You will need to allow for the modules to be joined together, laterally, horizontally and vertically (maximum three storey) to create larger, more open spaces.

  • You might choose a context for your home in terms of the site, land, location.

  • Your design configuration incorporating a minimum of four and potentially and eventually to a maximum of sixteen modules will house your home’s space and living requirements from the basic start-up home, permitting growth and expansion with the incorporation of additional modules leading to accommodation for an eventual home for the multi-generational family.

  • The internal layout and fixtures (kitchen, bathroom(s), bedroom(s) working, storage, utilities and services) are at your command, likewise numbers, and positions, sizes of windows, doors and partitioning. Solutions for services and finishes must be included.

  • The modules will be designed for factory manufacture, assembly and internal services and finishes installed before delivery to site creating a ‘plug and play’ scheme. For ease of transportation (and bringing into line with shipping container rules without regulations) 12m (4 pods back to back) will be the maximum assembled ‘in factory’ unit.

  • Digital and energy creating and storing elements should be added to the scope so the house can be self-sustaining, e.g. power the electric car, and suggest what sensors and digital information will be collected and monitored to enhance the living experience.

  • The clients are looking for an innovative, disruptive approach to space utilisation, materials and family living. At the same time the proposed design must be buildable, structurally capable and conform to Building Regulations and Statutory Approvals. See table attached for minimum room sizes.

  • You must combine realism with creativity.

Within the restrictive confines of the steel cube modules and the requirements of OSM, this is a deliberately open and loose brief allowing you to you to dig deeply into the heart and soul of what you believe will make perfect family homes for the 21st century.

Shortlisted finalists

A shortlist of finalist schemes will be selected, and those teams will be invited to attend an event hosted by the Construction Innovation Centre at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry on Friday 21st June 2019.

The finalists will participate in workshops with the judging designers to finalise their designs before formal presentations to the panel when the winning designs will be announced.

Funding will be available to cover the costs of the finalist groups attending this event.

It is MOBIE and the CIH’s intent for the winning home design to be developed by the architects of MOBIE LAB and professionally structurally engineered enabling the manufacture and assembly of modules within the CIH at the MTC using their robotic technology.  It is further hoped that a sample selection can be transported and exhibited at major home and design events later in the year with the full design scheme showcased and experienced in virtual reality.

Suggested Research

As a starting point for your initial research you might look at the Jacobsen Kube Flex House (built fifty years ago, way ahead of its time, but similar to what we are proposing), or the Micro Compact Home by Richard Horden and the Halley Research Station. It will also be important to visit the websites of the Active Building Centre (ABC) and the new body, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). When considering materials and finishing’s look at other innovative small spaces, aeroplane (business class) cabins, train interiors, boats, etc.

Don’t forget - Closing Date for Entries

Your design proposal and presentations should be submitted by Friday 26th April 2019.

Good Luck

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