Skip to main content

Blog Innovate UK

Innovate UK
Innovate UK

Taking construction forward to a radical future

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: ISCF, Support

The newly approved Core Innovation Hub is an exciting moment for UK construction. The Hub is at the centre of the Sector Deal for Construction - the plan to create better value, speed and sustainability in the built environment.

Since the publication of the visionary Construction 2025: Industrial Strategy for Construction six years ago, events have brought into sharper focus the need to act - events such as the collapse of Carillion and the Grenfell disaster.

Learning from other industries image shown by a cameo image of six people talking and icons above them showing smart phones, tablets, icons for mail, chat, ideas, cloud and search options

Producing buildings fully reflecting user needs

The Hub will bring to the construction of buildings and infrastructure technologies used successfully in other industries. Digital techniques will be used to design buildings based on platforms and components – in the same way cars are built now.

Precision manufacturing processes will be developed to realise these designs. This will enable the delivery of better performing schools, hospitals, homes and economic infrastructure. This will benefit businesses, public services and people. It will also drive reductions in waste and energy consumption.

Continuous improvement image depicted by a large spy glass over an image of two heads and icons for growth, change and a graph

Construction lifecycle of design and technology

The Hub will develop and establish a better model for building than currently exists. This model will facilitate innovation and continuous improvement in the built environment in ways not seen anywhere in the world today by enabling integration of the value chain.

The aim is to efficiently produce buildings that fully reflect the needs of their users. To do this we will draw upon advances in data systems and other technologies.

But, further, the Hub may also see the inception of a new era of architecture. Jaimie Johnson of Bryden Wood, the Hub’s architectural partner, believes that with the Hub’s platform approach to construction, architects and designers will have more time to focus on what really matters: ideas and outcomes. In responding to user needs the approach will align with the process of Darwinian adaptation more than any previous architectural style.

The overarching principles of the new architecture will be anthropogenic design and generative engineering – application of new manufacturing and engineering capabilities responding sensitively to human and environmental needs through data feedback loops.

Victorian engineering vs Modernist architecture

It is too early to predict at this stage what aesthetic character will emerge. Two fairly recent models might be Victorian engineering and Modernist architecture. In the Victorian era new engineering and industrial capability engendered buildings that we admire today – schools, railway stations and massive scale waterworks.

The Victorians embraced human needs and exploited rapidly changing technology.

British Museum image of the inside of the museum showing the iconic roof with people walking in the foreground

Future proofing buildings with style and function

Modernism was the prevailing style of twentieth century architecture. It inspired many beautiful buildings, but a proportion of these have been both alienating for users and poor in terms of environmental performance.

Despite some sound theoretical origins such as - form follows function (Louis Sullivan, 1896), and a house is a machine for living in (Le Corbusier, 1923), stylistic uniformity frequently dominated at the expense of human and environmental needs.

The truest Modernist principles are perhaps best exemplified by the great architects of the High-Tech movement such as Renzo Piano and Norman Foster.

Architecture attuned to the planet and its people

To what degree will this new wave in industrialisation of construction herald a new style in architecture? What both Victorian engineering and Modernism achieved was spark the creativity of many great designers. I hope that with the Core Innovation Hub and the Sector Deal for Construction we will do the same.

We look forward to an era of not just more efficient and safer building, but architecture attuned to the needs of the planet and its people.


You can follow Sam on Twitter.

You can follow Innovate UK on:

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by zain abiden posted on

    very informative and interesting post. thanks for sharing. keep sharing posts like this one

  2. Comment by Imanuel STEELE posted on

    It appears that AEC industry is is pretty technologically advanced... There are Innovations at every stage of the Project-cycle...

    However, the adoption by Industry and the interoperability across the project-cycle is a work in progress. Additionally, the inclusion of the 'project client' has some room for further development...

    Can Technology do some of the Client Consultation..??