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    Blog by Tom Bloxham MBE

    A great few days in Japan with our new partners Sekisui House

    25 July 2019
    A 5 minute read by Tom Bloxham

    I’ve just returned from a special few days in Japan, meeting our new partners Sekisui House - a pioneering company which has built more homes than any other housing developer in the world - over two and a half million to be precise..!

    Jonathan Falkingham and I made a very short trip to Japan, along with colleagues from Homes England. Together we toured Osaka and Tokyo; we got to know our colleagues, a bit of Japanese culture, more about the amazing work Sekisui House do – and their innovations. I hope my many iPhone pictures help capture the experience!

    Meeting our new colleagues from Sekisui House

    I’ve long been an admirer of Japanese brands; Comme des Garcons, Muji and Y-3. All have great design, great quality and that proud attribute of products which are ‘made in Japan’.

    Comme des Garcons, Muji and Y-3 - iconic Japanese brands

    Sekisui House is no different; it’s Japan’s biggest housebuilder, creating 2.5 million homes in the country – 75% of new homes sold now from Sekisui House are zero energy homes. The company builds more houses than the top 4 UK housebuilders combined.

    There’s pride in everything the company does; Sekisui House’s HQ makes a strong design statement about its ambitions – looking better than most UK housebuilder HQs in the process!

    Sekisui House HQ

    I even got a chance to head up onto the roof too; that’s the beautiful cityscape of Osaka behind me.

    Osaka skyline

    Jonathan and I were amazed on our visit to the Sekisui House R&D facility; 1000 colleagues work here. Sekisui House is also Japan’s biggest employer of architects – employing over 3000!

    Sekisui House’s commitment to R&D is plain to see - 1,000 staff work on R&D across the business; cross border research programs run every day – and we were amazed not just by the facility – but also this Sekisui House lab in a shopping centre. Far from a sales facility, this is somewhere from which the company conducts research about how Japanese people actually want to live. True, real time insight which helps Sekisui House adapt its ideas and developments accordingly.

    Sekisui House lab

    We also learnt a thing or two about local customs; how to bow, present business cards, clink glasses, and we had to take our shoes off to go in every show house – meaning we swapped our usual foot attire for these slippers.

    Getting used to some local customs

    While our colleague, and Sekisui House U.K. MD Kenta took us out into Osaka to immerse us fully into the city’s culture. There were bright lights and vibrancy on every corner – from the buildings...

    With Jonathan and Kenta in Osaka

    ...right down to consumer packaging in the unmissable vending machines.

    Japanese vending machines

    It was also great to spend some time (although we did only have two full days there! Quite the commute...) just getting to know Japan and its two biggest cities. This is the Parliament building in Tokyo.

    Parliament Building in Tokyo

    And of course, no visit would be complete without seeing a Japanese temple.

    Japanese temple in Tokyo

    It’s a long way from Manchester to Osaka (via Munich) but worth every single second of travel. We’ve come home inspired, and even more informed about our newest partners and the innovative way they work.

    Manchester to Osaka (via Munich)!

    We’re already applying that thinking and expertise across our modular portfolio…

    About the author

    Tom Bloxham

    Chairman and Co-Founder

    Tom Bloxham MBE is chairman and founder of award-winning regeneration company Urban Splash, which has received over 420 awards to date for architecture, design and business success.

    The company is responsible for development projects across the country, including Manchester, Liverpool, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Bristol, Plymouth, North Shields and Morecambe. In 1999 Tom was awarded an MBE for Services to Architecture and Urban Regeneration.

    Tom also upholds a number of other positions including; Chairman of Manchester International Festival, and trustee of Tate, the Manchester United Foundation and The Bloxham Charitable Trust.

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