Perhaps in the future more architects will have in-house offsite teams? What can we learn from the advanced robotic technology used in the car industry to push finishing techniques beyond someone hand-painting architraves in a shed?
Construction technology and management dissertation topics
The forward-looking nature of the offsite industry will lead to greater automation, and architects need to thoroughly engage with this. There will be different types of jobs requiring different skills. Safety in the building industry could be greatly improved by moving production to a controlled environment, which could in turn attract more people to the industry.
Many more companies are coming into the offsite market with various systems, and new factories are being built. This is both exciting and risky. If there is a downturn in the market, smaller players could fold. Factory-produced elements result in less waste, as offcuts from processes can often be reused or recycled at the factory. Fewer trades means fewer vehicle trips to site.
It is crucial that regulation keeps pace with emerging technology, and the government needs to keep ahead on the performance required from these systems. Australia changed its building code last year in response to the growing number of medium-rise CLT buildings. It now requires sprinklers in buildings and timber to be either thick enough to self-protect, or to be clad in fire-rated plasterboard.
The specialist knowledge required for offsite manufacturing can mean architects are more likely to be retained throughout RIBA stages. Systems need to be tested and certified to a standard that protects future homeowners. The government has recognised the importance of the offsite industry through the Farmer Review, which looked at tackling construction skills shortages.
It could encourage offsite through a build-to-rent programme or by directly funding offsite construction projects. Academic research will also help inform industry change.
Designers need to embrace this change to make sure offsite technology is working for us and not the other way around. We can do this by keeping abreast of new developments and working closely with the manufacturing industry. Early procurement, and joined-up working throughout the design process, enhanced by the use of BIM software, should allow design and fabrication to work in harmony, and create architecture informed by, but not driven by, the system. This article appeared in the Offsite construction issue — click here to buy a copy. The RIBA has revealed the shortlist for the first-ever award in honour of the late council housing pioneer Neave Brown — just two of which contain social housing.
Architects have criticised converting shipping containers into accommodation for the homeless after a report revealed the trend was gaining popularity among councils. John Kellett 9 October, pm. I sit here in my office with several years experience of offsite construction: modular, SIPs and panel with very few clients, contractors or developers or even other architects knocking at my door?
Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment. Rory Bergin 13 October, pm.
By moving activity from site to the factory we could double the productivity and output of the workforce. With an increasingly aged workforce and the spectre of Brexit looming, this change will be forced upon the industry whether we like it or not. Young people are not attracted by mud, but they will be attracted by 3D printing, robotics and automation. The sooner we embrace new technologies the more likely we will be able to deliver of the homes we so badly need.
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