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.
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.
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.
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:
- Innovate UK Twitter @innovateuk
- You can find out more about the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund here
- For more Innovate UK videos subscribe to our YouTube channel here
- Sign up for email notifications on funding, connections & support opportunities
- Follow Innovate UK on Facebook
- Connect with Innovate UK on Linkedin