CIH and Buildoffsite: A new partnership to transform buildings

Transform UK construction, transform buildings, infrastructure

The Construction Innovation Hub and Buildoffsite announced a new partnership at the Construction Show in London that will see Buildoffsite help to deliver the Hub’s mission to transform buildings and infrastructure

Offsite advocacy body Buildoffsite, part of the CIRIA network, has teamed up with the Construction Innovation Hub to help deliver its mission to transform the way that buildings and infrastructure are designed, manufactured, integrated and connected within the built environment.

With a wide membership, including UK and international clients, suppliers, professional services and academic organisations, offsite membership organisation Buildoffsite will work closely with the Hub to drive the uptake of manufacturing technologies and digital ways of working throughout the sector.

The agreement sees Buildoffsite join Constructing Excellence and the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) as the Construction Innovation Hub’s formal delivery partners.

The Hub’s network of delivery partners – each a highly influential voice in its own right – and their collective reach will be critical to the success of the Hub’s wider programme to transform UK construction and deliver better outcomes for the sector, the environment and wider society.

Launched in November 2018, the Construction Innovation Hub brings together world-class expertise from the Manufacturing Technology Centre, the Building Research Establishment and the Centre for Digital Built Britain to transform UK construction.

Backed with £72m from UK Research & Innovation’s Industry Strategy Challenge Fund, it aims to change the way buildings and infrastructure are designed, manufactured, integrated and connected within the built environment.

The challenge

Buildings and infrastructure are critical to society: housing, commerce, industry, transport, energy and public services.

Construction is one of the largest sectors in the UK economy, representing roughly 9% of GDP and employing around 10% of the UK workforce. The construction sector has a vast impact on communities across the UK, affecting the life of every person in Britain.

Despite this, the way we create buildings is outdated.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 and 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 does not produce 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 this.

A catalyst for change

The Hub aims to be a catalyst for change by driving collaboration to develop, commercialise and promote digital and manufacturing technologies for the construction sector.

It started by developing, demonstrating and validating “product family architectures” – standardised platforms and components – for schools, hospitals, prisons and other standard buildings procured by the government.

Alongside this “kit of parts” approach, the Hub will develop the next stage of Building Information Modelling processes, tools and standards for the whole lifecycle of an asset to ensure the UK remains a world leader in digital construction and quality data drives better whole-life value.

In addition, the Hub will develop new digital approaches to quality control, testing and validation, and regulatory compliance, as well as research to understand how construction needs to change in terms of skills, product standards, capacity and innovation. Underlying this will be an academic programme to create the information management framework and rules that will underpin digital twins, the future digital built environment and grow exports of UK knowhow.

Announcing the new partnership at the Offsite Construction Show, Keith Waller, the Construction Innovation Hub’s programme director, said: “I’m really excited by the opportunities that this new partnership with Buildoffsite will create for our programme, which is now a year off the ground.

“Government has already declared a preference to move towards offsite for critical buildings like schools and hospitals and a central part of our mission as the Construction Innovation Hub is to help government turn this ambition into a reality. This will deliver positive outcomes not just for government and the sector, but importantly, for wider society as well.

“But as we’ve said before, we cannot do this any of this alone. We really need all the key players with us on this journey. Having established itself as the authoritative voice of the offsite sector, Buildoffsite is undoubtedly one of the most critical players in construction today and we’re delighted to have them onboard.”

Joe Dyde, Buildoffsite’s business manager, said: “Buildoffsite is delighted to have been invited to partner with the Construction Innovation Hub and to be in a position to formally support the Hub’s programme to transform the way that UK construction projects are designed, delivered and perform in use to the benefit of the UK as a whole.

“It is only once in a generation that such a substantial opportunity to make a really big difference to the way the industry works comes along. By pooling Buildoffsite resources and the knowledge and success of our diverse membership with those of the other delivery partners we will be best placed to ensure that the ambitions for the Hub are delivered and the confidence and commitment of government and the industry at large are followed through.”



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