Transforming Construction – Core Innovation Hub
Buildings and infrastructure are critical to society: housing, commerce, industry, transport,
energy and public services. The UK construction sector represents 8% of GDP and 10% of
employment, but the way it works is outdated. If cars were hand-built to order using bespoke
designs and different supply chains every time, it is easy to imagine how costs would rise and
quality would vary widely with increased running costs and safety & environmental risks. This
is what happens in construction: the sector is less productive than the economy as a whole,
the focus on project build cost means we do not get the best value for users, society and, in
the long term, the economy.
The problem is real and urgent. Looking at the £650bn pipeline of critical infrastructure and
construction investment to 2025, at current levels of output the country is between 20-25%
short of supply chain capacity to deliver on this.
Our objective is to be the catalyst for a transformation in construction, by transferring learning
from other sectors such as manufacturing and promoting digital ways of working. We have
seen, through projects such as Crossrail, the capital savings possible with off-site
manufacturing and the whole-life performance improvements possible with smart self-diagnosing
infrastructure. Moreover, these new delivery models provide employment in high
value manufacturing in the areas where jobs are needed the most.
We will start by developing “product family architectures” – standardised platforms and
components – for schools, prisons and other standard buildings procured by government every
year. We will work with key departments to help them meet their ambitions to deliver most of
their buildings this way in the short term. We will combine this with research to understand how
the industry must change in terms of skills, product standards, capacity and innovation. We will
develop new digital approaches to quality control, testing & validation, and regulatory
compliance. We will work with the housing sector and major infrastructure projects to help to
transfer the learning to other build types. Underlying this will be an academic programme to
create the frameworks and rules which will underpin the future digital built environment and
grow exports for UK knowhow.
Our project is a unique collaboration of three centres with complementary expertise in
manufacturing, building performance and digital modelling. It is supported by government
departments, industry bodies and major players in the construction and digital sectors.