We face a national crisis in housing, a climate crisis and a construction skills shortage in the industry, but we see in this a powerful opportunity to do things differently. The Bristol Housing Festival is a five-year project hosting an ongoing conversation in various forms to incubate and pilot new ideas with the goal of finding scalable solutions. We pilot innovative build projects across the city in partnership with Bristol City Council and others, and host events, roundtable discussions and exhibitions that celebrate the latest innovation in off-site manufacturing and modern methods of construction. We know that genuine change happens through collaboration, so we bring together industry leaders, work with local governments and engage the public to bring healthy and resilient communities to the forefront of the conversation on housing.

Hope Rise is an innovative mixed community of young people in a development of 11 ZED PODS constructed above a public car park in St George, Bristol. The community came about through a vision for building affordable, quality and energy-efficient accommodation for young people in the city. The core project team was Bristol City Council, ZED PODS, YMCA and Bristol Housing Festival. The project went from concept to completion in two years

Living in Bristol, founder Jez Sweetland was struck by the challenge of housing in the city, particularly the prevalence of homelessness. He began by simply asking the question ‘what can I do to help?’ and immersing himself in the issues surrounding housing in the city, including the opportunity of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). Jez recognised that what was needed was a vision for housing that would draw together residents, the construction industry and local authorities to pilot and test solutions and create a story in Bristol that engenders hope in housing. The progress of the Bristol Housing Festival has only been possible through healthy partnerships, in particular the leadership of Bristol City Council, led by Mayor Rees, and the West of England Combined Authority. This continues to be a key to enabling innovation in housing within the city.

SNUG Homes is dedicated to building high quality homes which are good for people and for the planet. Using a volumetric offsite construction method and prioritising sustainable material choices, local supply chains and energy-saving technology, end users benefit from highly efficient, high performance dwellings. From involving future residents in the design and build process to training and employing local people, SNUG seeks to provide more affordable routes to high quality housing which bring social value to the local community.The first SNUG home was completed in Bristol in March 2021

Historically festivals have been spaces of significant social change. One challenge in housing is a breakdown of trust between local authorities, the construction industry, and residents. A festival is a space where all three stakeholders can enter into a positive conversation. Our role is therefore of innovation enabler – a catalyst for shared vision and the testing and deployment of new ideas. We’re a ‘think and do’ tank that provides a collective city opportunity to pilot and test new ideas and celebrate some of the incredible housing stories emerging in Bristol. We believe that momentum and focus will help bring a shift in our housing that will produce greater quality, greater sustainability, and tackle some of the affordability issues in our city.

Bristol has a long history of innovation and pioneering – it is a city that has the courage to lead. One of the goals of the Bristol One City Plan is that everybody has access to affordable housing in a safe, thriving community by 2050. We support this vision by helping to unlock barriers to innovation and enabling housing solutions that can be scaled and replicated.

Following a piece of research to understand what resources might help make the widescale adoption of MMC and offsite housing solutions more feasible,* In 2019 we supported a consortium of partners led by YTKO and including Bristol City Council, Bristol Housing Festival, BRE, and 9 leading modular housing companies to bid for an Innovate UK grant for our project, ‘Enabling Housing Innovation for Inclusive Growth’, which we won in April 2020. This is an 18-month programme working with multiple
partners towards the delivery of a major Research, Development and Innovation (R,D&I) in the use of MMC.

The project aims to improve the speed, cost and social value of nearly 430 homes to be built in the city over the next few years. Working in Bristol and connecting with the scale of opportunity across the West of England our ambition is to continue to help change the narrative on housing and to support the region in becoming a regional centre of excellence for MMC to demonstrate how those new housing systems can support the region to build quality, sustainable and affordable homes at pace.

*Funded by the Local Government Association conducted with Bristol City Council and the Bristol Housing Festival

Bristol Housing Festival

Submit your Innovation Story

Join and network with a global community of innovators  by sharing your success story with the world.



Our promise: we dislike spam as much as the next person, and promise never to break your trust in us. We will never sell data – this is only used for the INNOVATE® Newsletter