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Modern methods of construction

Laing O'Rourke's, Head of Engineering Excellence, Paul Westbury joined our recent Future Cities Forum at the IET on 6th March to talk about the popular topic of modern construction. He stated 'construction innovation isn't about magic materials entering from stage left - it comes down to methodology, toolsets and procurement'.

Paul gave the example of off-site manufacturing in action at the new Westgate Shopping Centre in Oxford. This is the first John Lewis store in the UK to be fully manufactured off-site before construction. It enabled Laing O'Rourke to put up the skin of the building with only three people plus one crane operator - without scaffolding in record time.

Chris Brown, Founder and Chairman of Igloo Regeneration joined him on the construction panel, adding: 'We will only change construction techniques in the UK if we change the business model of speculative sale of standard house types.'

Government, he explained, has grasped that the traditional model of the UK house building industry cannot support a modern manufacturing approach: 'One of the solutions is to put more emphasis on custom-build and build to rent. With the latter you do not put a developer profit onto the build cost - you just need a small construction profit. You cannot get the same economies of scale that house builders achieve with the traditional model but the UK lags far behind other countries in the developed world in the use of custom build. We are innovating in our residential projects because all of the traditional built homes are either defective or late'.

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