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Various economists and politicians have proposed ways of resolving the housing crisis. Many of these feel ideologically motivated and involve robbing Peter to pay Paul. For many obvious, practical reasons, this is not the solution. The solution must surely come through innovation in the housebuilding process which creates more economic surplus that can then be shared between the actors and the community. When tech start-ups propose industry solutions, a healthy degree of scepticism is usually justifiable. But when Google produces a solution it’s probably worth listening. Their proposal for offsite factory fabrication of timber structures, contained in their Toronto Tomorrow vision is remarkably well thought through. By shifting to timber design, Google’s sister company, Sidewalk Labs, anticipates being able to create a predictable and low-cost supply chain that is not subject to the fluctuations of the construction industry’s existing steel sourcing. High volume construction of modular design elements creates economies of scale, and the supply chain will be coordinated by a digital BIM system, the combination of which will reduce waste (by 75%), increase construction speed (by 35%), reduce the number of deliveries to site (by 85%) and reduce overall project costs by a posited 20%. Aside from the environmental benefits of building with timber, offsite fabrication will increase project safety and reduce commuting time for workers (due to having a fixed work location). Having created a project surplus through these mechanisms, Sidewalk Labs proposes that the city shares in the benefit through higher land prices (for public land), land value uplift capture (for private land) and planning gain in the form of more affordable housing. Applicability to UK urban projects? Timber can be built up to 30 stories; however, at present we may lack the ready supply that exists in Canada.