The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has signed an agreement within Urban Splash to build 10,000 new homes using Modern Methods of Construction

The WMCA has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Urban Splash to build 10,000 new homes in the region.

The partnership deal is aimed at helping the WMCA hit targets to deliver 215,000 new homes across the region by 2031, and brownfield regeneration, in order to meet future housing and economic demand.

MOU agreement

The signed MOU outlines that House by Urban Splash will aim to deliver circa 5% of WMCA’s 215,000 new homes target within the region by 2031. A target of 10,000 new multi tenure homes consisting of various ownership models will be delivered across the West Midlands over the 11 year period.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, said: “The West Midlands economy is continuing to grow at a fast pace and more companies and people are coming here looking to enjoy everything our region has to offer.

“This is of course brilliant news, but it also brings with it a set of challenges, especially in terms of providing enough homes and commercial premises to keep up with demand.

“Urban Splash is one of the most innovative developers in the UK using modern methods of construction that can deliver quality homes at pace on reinvigorated brownfield sites.

“By combining that expertise with WMCA resources, support and expertise we can help meet the housing demand and transform acres of former industrial land into vibrant new communities, protecting our precious greenbelt land in the process.”

Nathan Cornish, group board director at Urban Splash, added: “This partnership brings together investment, understanding and skills to develop brownfield sites, transforming past industrial wasteland into modern-day homes and communities.

“This is further reflective of the current confidence in the regional market and economy – and as the Chancellor noted in his Budget, the commitment at national level to meet the housing demand.

“Urban Splash know the West Midlands well, having delivered iconic projects at Fort Dunlop and Rotunda. We are currently on-site at Port Loop working in partnership with Places for People, Canals and Rivers Trust and Birmingham City Council.

“It is brownfield projects like that we will target in order to bring forward more award-winning homes to the region, delivering architect-designed homes with their own identity, creating vibrant family-focused neighbours.”


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Strategic partnership

WMCA and Urban Splash’s ambition is to establish a ground-breaking strategic partnership which brings together public and private sector skills and investment to unlock complex brownfield sites and ease pressure on the greenbelt.

Urban Splash will invest in the acquisition, planning, promotion and delivery of housing development sites and will deliver sustainable communities at ‘scale and pace’.

As part of the partnership deal, Urban Splash will embrace Modern Methods of Construction as its default construction approach, and endeavour to deliver products on brownfield land fit for a region known for its manufacturing excellence.

Urban Splash will also be devoted to making architect-designed homes available to the marketplace across a range of tenures.

The partnership will see WMCA work with House by Urban Splash in order to prioritise brownfield sites to transform into neighbourhoods with distinct characteristics, and that are recognisable and different, each with their own identity.


Source: PBC Today

The technique works like an umbrella: The bridge is assembled vertically, then lowered and “opened” with hydraulic joints.

By  Derya Özdemir


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Engineers from the Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien) have developed a futuristic twist on building bridges and demonstrated the technique for the first time in Austria last week. The umbrella-like technique resembles the opening and closing of an umbrella over a river.

The traditional way to construct a bridge happens piece by piece: either the engineers make use of scaffolding or use piers to act as vertical load-bearing structures. In order to keep balance, things progress bit by bit, and the bridge is carefully built outwards in any direction.

According to the researchers, this new bridge construction system is expected to be much simpler, faster, cheaper, and has a less environmental impact.

The team had been working on the new method for years: the idea was patented in 2006, in 2010 first tests were carried out by TU Wien. The technique involved hollow girders being mounted to a pier in an upright position. Girders would be joined at the top, and then, would be gently unfolded downwards.

The researchers implemented the new technique for the first time over the Lafnitz River on the border of Austria and Hungary, where Austria’s new S7 motorway is being constructed.

As it was imagined on the paper, the bridge, which is roughly 236 ft long, was assembled vertically instead of horizontally and lowered with bendable hydraulic joints that mimic an umbrella’s internal movements.

You can watch the bridge unfold here:


Once the hollow girders were lowered all the way through and horizontal, they could be filled with concrete to complete the structural components of the bridge. According to the team, this technique provides a bridge of the same durability as the traditional methods, while saving a lot of time.

Johann Kollegger of the Institute of Structural Engineering of TU Wien says, “Erecting bridges using scaffolding usually takes months. The elements for the balanced lowering method, on the other hand, can be set up in two to three days, and the lowering process takes around three hours.”

In this case, less time equals fewer costs, and the method could prove extremely useful in areas with uneven terrains or nature reserves that are ought to left undisturbed.

Moreover, it would be much safer for workers since after the umbrella-technique there is only a safe and completed bridge ready to fill in and finish.

If the practice catches on, this might be the future of constructing bridges.


Source: Interesting Engineering


Some good news out of Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei province and epicenter for the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that’s now intensifying elsewhere across the globe.

Authorities have suspended operations at all 16 of the city’s temporary hospitals—most erected and put into operation with remarkable speed and efficiency—as the infection rate across the greater Wuhan region continues to plummet following an aggressive, nearly two-month-long quarantine period. The temporary facilities were established with the express purpose of treating patients suffering from symptoms of coronavirus. The first of these makeshift hospitals discharged its last group of recovered patients on March 1.

The news of the hospitals’ closure comes at roughly the same time as Chinese state media declared that the spread of the virus has been constrained in Hubei and beyond, with only new 19 new cases being reported as of March 9, all of them in Wuhan, a significant drop from just the day before. In total, Chinese officials have reported 80,754 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began in late December. There have been 3,136 resulting deaths in China, with the first being reported on January 11.

To mark the encouraging milestone, President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan for the first time since the outbreak began, where he relayed, per the BBC, that the virus had been “basically curbed” in the region.

“Initial success has been made in stabilising the situation and turning the tide in Hubei and Wuhan,” said Xi.

President Xi’s visit to Wuhan included a stopover at the 1,000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital, where he “visited” on-their-way-out patients and medical staff via video. Encompassing 645,000 square feet, Huoshenshan (“Mount Fire God”) Hospital was one of two field hospitals built-from-scratch on the outskirts of Wuhan, China’s 9th most populous city, in under 10 days using modular construction methods. This approach, taking a direct page from a prefab hospital erected in Beijing during the 2003 SARS outbreak, was in lieu of repurposing large existing structures such as convention centers and stadiums as was the case with most of the city’s other temporary medical facilities.

Construction of Huoshenshan Hospital kicked off on January 23 was completed on February 2, with its first patients being admitted the next morning. A sister facility erected from prefabricated modules, Leishenshan (“Mount Thunder God”) Hospital, opened on February 8 in a massive disused parking lot in the neighboring Jiangxia district.

“China has a record of getting things done fast, even for monumental projects like this,” Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the BBC when work on Huoshenshan Hospital was first underway. “Engineering work is what China is good at. They have records of building skyscrapers at speed. This is very hard for Westerners to imagine. It can be done.”

Time lapse video: Construction of Wuhan Huoshenshan Hospital completed

With ample room to accommodate between 1,500 and 2,000 patients and a 1,260-person-strong medical staff, the largest of Wuhan’s now-closed coronavirus treatment centers, dubbed the Wuhan Living Room Temporary Hospital, took over a major exhibition center. While transforming an expo center into a massive emergency medical center practically overnight was obviously quite a feat of planning and logistics, the hospital didn’t receive as grandiose a name as its swiftly realized modular counterparts.

Dr. Zhang Junjian, a neurologist at Wuhan University and the director of the Wuhan Living Room hospital, told the Associated Press at the end of February that he expected operations to end in “maybe in mid-March or during the last ten days of March because fewer patients are being admitted and the number of patients being discharged is gradually increasing now.”

“If nothing special happens, I expect the operation of our makeshift hospital, the biggest one in Wuhan, could complete its historical mission by the end of March,” he added.

Based on the news coming out of China, that much-anticipated day came even earlier than expected.


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As China basks in these encouraging developments and its president takes a very public victory lap, the spread of the virus shows no signs of slowing elsewhere including in heavily ravaged Italy, which recently enacted an unprecedented nationwide shut-down for all 60 million of its residents following a regional quarantine that was limited to the country’s northern regions. This week, Italy also recorded the highest single-day fatality rate—168 people killed by the virus in 24 hours—since the outbreak began.

The United States, particularly the Seattle metro area and suburban New York City, has also experienced an alarming uptick in confirmed cases over the last several days.


Source: The Architects Newspaper


The Kingspan TEK Building System of structural insulated panels (SIPs) has provided the bespoke, thermally efficient shell for a minimalist pavilion at Eton College’s Willowbrook Outdoor Sports Centre.

The stunning single-storey building, designed by Lewandowski Architects, sits at the centre of the site and provides a range of facilities including changing rooms, toilets and a kitchen along with a roof-top viewing platform. Feltham Construction managed work on the project which included the demolition of the building’s outdated predecessor. Wood was a key part of the material palette with charred timber fitted for the outer cladding and birch-ply boards fitted internally. This approach extended to the structure, with Bentley SIP Systems using the Kingspan TEK Building System for the walls of the structural shell.

Kingspan TEK Building System is formed from SIPs with a high performance, rigid insulation core autohesively bonded between two OSB/3 facings. 142mm thick Kingspan TEK panels were selected for the walls of the pavilion. As Kingspan TEK Delivery Partners, Bentley SIP Systems oversaw the design and factory cutting of the panels before delivering them to site.

David Bentley from Bentley SIP Systems discussed the project:

“The Kingspan TEK Building System was specified by Lewandowski Architects at the pre-tender stage and we worked with them from that point to the erection of the building shell. The System was chosen both because of its excellent insulation properties and because it could facilitate a fast-track construction programme. As we pre-cut each panel to the project’s specific requirements, we were easily able to incorporate features such as the structural steel which supports the retractable glazing to the front of the building.”


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The Kingspan TEK Building System’s unique jointing system ensures insulation continuity between the panels, helping to minimise repeating thermal bridges. In combination with the OSB/3 facing, this jointing arrangement also facilitates the creation of highly airtight buildings. This should help to reduce the long-term heating requirements for the project and provide a warm, comfortable environment for athletes and spectators.

Bentley SIP Systems’ operatives were able to rapidly erect the SIPs with a dry installation programme. The precision factory design eliminated the need for offsite alterations and waste whilst the OSB/3 facing provided an ideal substrate for the external and internal timber cladding.

For further information, please contact:


Tel: +44 (0) 1544 387 384

Fax: +44 (0) 1544 387 484



Joe Beeton of Construction Dive reports on a recent USA survey.

Modular Monitor: How GCs, trades and architects view offsite construction, by the numbers

Survey responses from Dodge show that the professions are aligned on some aspects and at odds on others. Here’s what the data might mean for the future of offsite.

Since Construction Dive began taking the pulse of offsite construction, this column has been inundated with praise for the method from self-identified modular builders.

Modular-focused firms are putting together vertically integrated business models, handing over keys to turnkey buildings and even calling the movement disruptive. 

But modular builders likely can’t move the needle on their own, so the focus is different for this month’s column: modular’s other stakeholders. 

While there are over 200 modular builders in the U.S., according to the Modular Building Institute, commercial modular building only accounts for about 4% of the market. It would take sweeping buy-in from traditional contractors, designers, owners and all applicable trade professionals for modular to be defined as an industry disruption, or a “major disturbance in the way things are done,” as Ivan Rupnik, an associate professor at Northeastern University’s School of Architecture, puts it.

Owners may be the most pivotal, because they conceive and fund projects, and if a build is going to be modular, it has to be modular before shovels hit the dirt, according to Laurie Robert, LEED AP and vice president of modular building specialist NRB Inc. in Canada.

Who’s making way for modular?

While Robert also expressed the common sentiment that lack of education among owners often inhibits modular’s take-off, it’s important to note that there seems to be a certain threshold for a tipping point: Once owners are convinced, they go out and actively champion it.

But what about architects, construction managers and subcontractor groups such as erectors and building enclosure trades? What do they seem to agree on, and where do they differ?

To that end, Dodge Data & Analytics recently released a report that culled together thought leadership on modular and prefabrication, such as the observation from Rupnik, and recorded results from a survey on modular construction that elicited responses from more 600 AEC professionals ranging from designers to steel fabricators.

To participate, respondents had to have worked on at least one project that involved prefabrication elements or full modular construction in the last three years. Of that pool, only 15 identified as modular builders or manufacturers, and their answers were recorded separately.

As a publication that’s trying to shine light on the industry’s more comprehensive and often varied views of modular, it’s refreshing for Construction Dive to see a vast array of tangential stakeholders weigh in on the topic.

Answers were broken out by three professions.


Analysis shows how much they dovetail on myriad sentiments and also some of the ways in which they contrast.

General contractors that responded, for example, overwhelmingly showed support for offsite building methods. That may not be a total surprise, considering that last month we heard heavyweights that have made their name in traditional stick building, such as Mortenson and DPR, talk about benefits they’ve had with offsite construction.

But it’s important to consider where GCs’ stance fits among other stakeholders in the built environment.

For one, this was the group that most forecasted increased use of full-volumetric permanent modular construction. A slight majority predicted only 25% or less of their projects being composed of mostly flat-packed or 3D modules built offsite in the next three years. But more importantly, a quarter of that group said they’ll be using the method on more than half of their projects. Only 13% anticipated no involvement at all.

Where does modular make sense?

Out of 14 market segments, GCs found medical facilities the most promising for modular construction. Forty-one per cent selected healthcare as being in the top 10 most-promising sectors, which represents a higher volume than any other category. Respondents were going out on a limb on their healthcare predictions, because that number is double the percentage of firms that ranked it as one of the top building types they’d done through modular means in the past three years.

Healthcare ranked similarly for the 219 trades representatives that responded. Like the GCs’ rankings, it also came in as the subs’ strongest category for modular growth, with 56% crowning it in their top 10 despite only 31% putting it in that class when looking back.

But the consensus of contractors and subs differ from that of designers, who stand behind multifamily as the strongest contender for increasing modular inroads. Half of the more than 200 architects and engineers polled ranked it in one of the top spots, despite only 16% saying it’s been one of the most prominent categories in recent years.

Multifamily is perhaps the biggest enigma of the report. “Design firms,” for instance, according to co-authors Stephen Jones and Donna Laquidara-Carr, “are extremely positive about the role of modular on multifamily projects going forward,” and the numbers back that up.

Trades, on the other hand, more frequently ranked it as being significant in the last three years yet not nearly as likely to hold such importance in the next three. GCs’ take seems to be that it will taper slightly but remain about the same, with only 33% saying it has been and will continue to be one of the top building types for modular.

GCs and trades are also more optimistic about modular in the hospitality segment, with it coming in second and third in that same index, respectively, for the next three years. Designers, on the contrary, anticipate the sector’s use of modular slowing.


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What’s driving offsite’s growth?

For all groups, the “desire to increase productivity” reigned as the most important factor influencing the move to offsite in the past three years, according to Laquidara-Carr and her team’s findings, though builders and subs ranked productivity gains even higher than designers, likely because of how it impacts their workflow.

“Remaining competitive” was the second-most influential factor among all three, and even more so for subs.

“Interestingly,” the report notes, “design firms report having been most highly motivated by seeking improved cost performances (58%) — out [pacing] both GCs/CMs (49%) and trades (50%).

“This,” the findings continue, “ … [indicates] that architects and engineers understand both prefabrication and modular construction can have a positive influence on cost control and should lead to more development of design solutions that consciously enable both.”

What’s holding modular back?

The rub, however, is that designers forecasted the lowest overall percentage of prefabricated assemblies usage in the coming three years. Only 16% anticipated use of prefab components such as behind-the-wall plumbing assemblies for headwalls or multi-trade assemblies such as above-the-ceiling corridor racks in hospitals, as opposed to full-volumetric room modules.

This means, the authors wrote, that designers need “to become more engaged with designing in a way that enables contractors to implement prefabrication.”

Getting on the same page in the development of both prefabricated assemblies-based and module designs takes teamwork, and the culture needs to change, NRB’s Robert said. “The formation of your team, including the owner, the architect, the general contractor, the modular builder and all other stakeholders,” she continued, “is certainly the most important aspect of a modular project’s success.”

Luckily, for the sake of modular’s advancement, there are many things to agree on. All three groups leaned into the idea that modular construction improves project schedule performance, with that factor resonating as the biggest driver for growth. Around half of each groups’ respondents believed modular reduces project costs enough to consider it a highly influential factor in stirring up demand.

But GCs didn’t agree with most subs and designers on modular’s penchant for improved quality as being a top driver. Only 34% believed it will play an important role, whereas half of the designers and half the subs said it’d have an increasingly high level of influence.

Another area in which all groups aligned included their take on what’s inhibiting modular growth the most. Owners, as noted, are still one of the biggest influencers on whether industry players toying with offsite tactics actually employ them on projects or not —​ and that’s true for all groups, with each ranking “lack of owner interest” a top obstacle.

Kendra Halliwell, associate principal of the women-owned Icon Architecture, also previously expressed the fact that availability of modular factories, or lack thereof, can be a big determinant in whether a modular project gets greenlit. That’s even more evident for designers, according to the report, with half of that group ranking it as a huge setback to growth and GCs trailing slightly in that opinion.

“One thing I want to emphasize is, if you’re doing a modular project, to visit the factory at least once a week while it’s being constructed,” the AIA and LEED AP architect said during a case study presentation of her firm’s first modular build, the 171-unit, 129-module The Graphic Lofts, Boston’s largest modular multifamily development. “We didn’t plan for that, and we ended up having to make up for that. We did, however, meet three times a week — sometimes through virtual meetings — with the architect, contractor and modular manufacturer.” Proximity to the factory is key, she said.

Trade contractors, however, don’t see availability in the same light. Only about 23% considered it a problem, but that could be because trades “are not as involved in sourcing suppliers,” according to the report.

How are supply decisions made?

How players select modular construction services is another eye-opener. “Design firms and GCs most highly value expertise,” the report found, but “design firms are far more influenced by owners on their modular supplier decisions than GCs.”

“Price,” however, “is not a highly influential factor for selection of a modular construction supplier,” for any groups using full-volume modular builds, the authors found, noting that it will likely be more of a factor as more and more suppliers enter the market.

But that’s different from what respondents had to say about the supply of prefabricated components and services. “This contrasts with prefabrication, where it ranked second overall on this same list of six factors and was cited as the primary influencer by 20% of GCs/CMs,” the report noted. “This may reflect the different maturity levels between these two markets, where because there are more suppliers available for prefabrication, price can be more readily used for competitive evaluation.”

Yet a different take is that some builds involve a combination of both full-module rooms and single- or multi-trade prefabricated assemblies, or combine those offsite elements with traditional methods, otherwise known as hybrid builds. Robert, concurring with another common perception, espoused the value of hybrid models.

And it’s in hybrid or prefab work where many subs shine. While they are involved in full-volume modularization jobs as well, they often are the most heavily invested when it comes to any other jobs that require at least partial panelisation or prefab components.

The study notes that “trades can often make the decision to prefabricate their part of the work without significantly impacting or involving other trades.” Subs seemed both the most well-versed in prefabrication when looking back at the past three years and also the most enthusiastic about the next three.

Subcontractors often have to put their workers’ necks on the line, so modular’s purported safety benefits hold a lot of water for subs. “Safety scores far higher with trade contractors because of its direct impact on their workforce,” the report said.



Source: Construction Dive

Offsite construction specialists The McAvoy Group have secured a multi-million-pound investment from London-based Blantyre Capital.

Although the specific level of financial backing is currently undisclosed, the company says the significant investment will support McAvoy in its continued growth in the offsite sector, and will also finance the group’s ambitious expansion programme.

The McAvoy family – Orla Corr and Conor McAvoy – remain as shareholding directors and fully active in the business. The current board will continue to be led by Mark Lowry, managing director, and will be joined by a director from Blantyre, further strengthening the existing management team.

Orla Corr, shareholder and director, said: “We are extremely excited to partner with a highly respected investment fund that is fully aligned with our vision for future growth and our strategic plan. It was important for our staff, our customers and our valued supply chain to join forces with a dynamic and reliable investor who will help accelerate our growth.

“We have our strongest project pipeline for many years and in a diverse range of sectors. Partnering with Blantyre will enable us to leverage industry-leading offsite solutions across the UK and Ireland and to continue to develop our award-winning digital construction strategy.”

Adam Phillips, head of investments at Blantyre Capital, said: “The offsite sector offers enormous opportunities for transforming construction and is a sector in which we are keen to invest. We are confident in McAvoy’s growth potential and we are looking forward to a highly successful and productive business partnership.”

The McAvoy Group has been providing offsite schemes and interim modular buildings for the past 50 years, and it has two purpose-built manufacturing centres in Northern Ireland spanning more than 150,000sqft. Current projects nearing completion include a new mental health assessment unit at Kingston Hospital in Surrey and the 630-pupil Paxton Academy in Croydon.


Source: Infrastructure Intelligence

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Housing Minister, Julie James has announced that factory-made ‘modular’ housing should be used to quickly increase the number of high-quality social and affordable homes being built across Wales – part of a new Welsh Government strategy to kick-start the modern methods of construction industry.
The Welsh Government wants councils to build far more Council homes at scale and at pace, however, they face the well-documented capacity constraints faced by traditional house builders.
To deliver more homes quickly, councils will be encouraged to use modern methods of construction (MMC), which will help them build better quality homes faster than traditional methods allow, in order to meet the growing need for affordable housing across the country.
MMC includes various construction methods from new materials and technologies, to off-site manufacturing, which either replace or complement traditional methods of construction.
MMC opportunities will also bring significant new benefits to the Welsh economy.
To back Welsh business, Ministers plan to help this next generation of homes to be built utilising national assets such as Welsh steel and Welsh timber. There will also be a focus on using the emerging MMC industry in Wales to pursue Welsh social and ethical ambitions, including developing skills and market-leading technical expertise in communities hardest hit by the decline of traditional industries. Investment will also help firms invest in locally sourced labour.

Other benefits include:
• creating new jobs and developing the new skills required to accommodate greater use of MMC, which will represent a sea-change in the construction industry
• upskilling the existing construction workforce
• attracting new and diverse entrants from marginalised groups such as offenders and those who wouldn’t necessarily consider careers in traditional construction such as women

As part of the Welsh Government’s new Modern Methods of Construction strategy ‘Reimagining social house building in Wales’, which is being published today, Ministers are making a major £45 million investment in the modular housing industry in Wales, to ensure it can deliver the next generation of social housing that people need.


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£20 million is being made available for MMC businesses, who in partnership with Welsh social landlords, want to build the next generation of social housing. This investment is designed to help and encourage the market, especially SMEs, to develop off-site manufacture (OSM) solutions such as supply chains, factories, skills development centres, that meet the needs of the next generation of social housing in Wales.
A further £25 million is being made available for round 4 of the Welsh Government’s Innovative Housing Programme, which will focus on innovative housing delivered through MMC.
The strategy supports the Welsh Government’s ambitions to reduce carbon emissions from the housing sector. It also supports move to a circular economy, as building with MMC could reduce construction waste by as much as 70-90%.
Yesterday the Housing Minister today witnessed MMC in action on a visit to SO Modular in Neath, who already supply the social housing market in Wales.
Housing Minister, Julie James said:
Building more social and affordable homes is a key priority for the Welsh Government. Over the last 4 years, this Welsh Government has invested £2 billion in new housing across Wales, as part of our ambition to deliver 20,000 affordable homes by 2021.
But we want to build more. And we want to build better. The significant investment we’re making in the modular housing industry will enable us to do that.
Gone are the days of MMC’s association with poor quality, temporary, pre-fabricated housing; MMC now produces high quality, desirable and energy efficient affordable homes that tenants can be proud of. We have certainly moved from Pre-Fab to Ab-Fab!
Developing the MMC industry in Wales presents us with a great opportunity to not only build beautiful new social housing, but also kick-start a new industry that will become increasingly important for our economy.
The publication of the strategy is in response to a recommendation made by the Welsh Government’s Affordable Housing Supply Review, which identified Modern Methods of Construction as a way of more quickly increasing housing supply.



As a new decade commences, professionals everywhere are seeking fresh inspiration for interiors, whether for commercial spaces or residential living. 

This desire for innovative performance and trend-setting designs is most notable when it comes to interior doors, whose influence upon a room can have a marked effect on the surrounding décor, lifting and invigorating adjacent space. Bringing clarity to this process is Vicaima, who have just launched their 2020 Interior Door Selector. Packed with ideas this brochure is an essential tool for every specifier.
Now an annual and eagerly anticipated event, the 2020 edition of the Vicaima Interior Door Selector has over 100 pages filled with doors and doorsets that suit a multitude of applications, tastes and budgets.  Its simple to navigate layout has been designed to make the selection process straightforward, with at a glance guides to form, function and fire, or indeed other desired performance criteria.  Every range also shows a simple Price Indicator, allowing easy comparison between potential options for that perfect specification.
New for 2020, Vicaima have introduced some pioneering products that are certain to gain wide appeal.  These include: Primed 2 Go, a revolutionary, polymer faced door for painting that requires no surface sanding or priming, saving time and money on site. Deep Textured Finish, creating the authentic touch of an open grain in a matt finish that can be applied to a selection of veneered and stained veneered doors
An extension to the Visual Sensation foil door range, introducing 4 new matt finishes and new horizontal grain options in both the Naturdor Stained and Dekordor SD Foil ranges.

Naturally, at Vicaima it’s not just about great design and trend setting aesthetics.  As specialists in performance products, Vicaima set the benchmark for fire certification, coupled with security and acoustic solutions.  With a growing market awareness of the needs of providing peace of mind when it comes to fire safety, specifiers gain confidence from a supplier like Vicaima, who achieved 54 minutes during recent MHCLG testing of their 30-minute door assemblies.  This coupled with Secure By Design approval and FSC environmental certification, makes Vicaima the obvious choice for demanding locations.

Download a copy of the 2020 Interior Door Selector today by visiting the Vicaima website.   Alternatively call 01793 532333 for further inspiration.

With three key projects under the spotlight, we hear more about Spantherm – the innovative insulated precast concrete ground-floor system which is being adopted by a growing number of housebuilders and developers in GB.

By producing high performance insulated structural concrete units offsite Creagh have redefined the speed of installing a fully insulated ground-floor.  Spantherm is an efficient alternative to labour intensive beam and block installations. It has been utilised at a housing development in Peterborough by NRI Civils who opted for the work to be completed by Creagh’s expert fitting team, requiring no labour from them and saving them time onsite.
Adam Moody, Contracts Manager for NRI Civils said: “We chose Spantherm because one of the things that we are looking for as a business is to improve efficiencies, reduce costs, reduce labour and time onsite and when you’ve got a difficult site, where you’re struggling for storage, that’s exactly where Spantherm is perfect!”
Spantherm’s initial appeal is clear, as a typical floor on a detached house or a pair of semi-detached homes is fitted onsite in less than two hours. Once in place and grouted, the floor achieves its full structural capability within 72 hours, however building activity can commence on perimeter walls within 24 hours. “The team have been absolutely fantastic” adds Adam. “They are always on hand for technical support. We will definitely be using Spantherm again to help our optimum goal of achieving better efficiency and reducing costs and labour times.”
Spantherm has also been used in Nottinghamshire, where a new homes development is being built by Geda Construction. With no additional site works or laying out required, a typical 90m² floor can be installed in just 90 minutes and provides level base without camber for timber frame or block construction.
Installation is not affected by adverse weather conditions and secondary screeds with extended drying times are not required. Spantherm is designed to reduce cold bridging at wall / floor junctions making an important contribution to Part L performance, whilst achieving U-value as low as 0.11W/m2K.
“Geda used Spantherm to push the project along as its one operation that just makes it so much quicker and easier to facilitate onsite,” said Shaun Wormall, Site Manager for Geda. “We are impressed on the installation of the slabs and the time that it saves us onsite. From a site management point of view it’s been really good, Creagh have been very responsive and the production timescales and installation has been quick and painless.  We would definitely use Spantherm again, brilliant product, well-managed and well-run.”
An increasing number of builders in GB are switching from traditional beam and block builds as its significantly reducing labour onsite.  Malcolm Flinn, Director of Stapleford Oaks Ltd in Nottingham states “I chose Spantherm because it’s labour saving, has made life easier for me, its quick, efficient and clean”.
“I would use Spantherm again because the block and beam method takes so many more men and machines on site, and takes a lot longer
to lay.  It also leaves a lot of work for the bricklayers to do at floor level.  With Spantherm we are in and building off it almost straight away” stated Malcolm.
Watch the testimonial videos at

Here’s a question.: Are Modern Methods of Construction modern? Or are they old?  Or are they both? In 21st century Britain, they are as modern as the Pyramids were in their day, as modern as the Athens Parthenon, Roman Aqueducts, the Coliseum, medieval cathedrals, groin vaults, pointed arches, flying buttresses, flushing toilets or the Eiffel Tower. More than the mere appliance of science, they feature the key elements of modernity:  innovative thinking along with new materials and techniques which transform the construction landscape and the lives of those using them.

The Royal institute of Chartered Surveyors has identified key elements of MMC: these are offsite manufacturing, modular construction and design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA).  Green Life Buildings (GLB) and the expanded polystyrene sandwich panels of the company’s Advanced Building System tick all these boxes and more.
And now another question for a constructors convention quiz. What links a Surrey bungalow built in 2020 with the iconic Paris monument erected in 1889?  Answer: they are both examples of MMCs and share one critical feature: all their components are factory-created. From there, they are brought on site ready to be assembled and bolted together. For the Eiffel Tower, it took hundreds of trips by horse drawn wagons to transport more than 18,000 parts from a suburban Paris factory. By contrast, Green Life Buildings can ship all the Advanced Building System panels needed for a family home on the back of just one truck.


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If consultant Mark Farmer is right, the prospects for the British building industry are grim. It faces strong competition from European suppliers of modular housing and shortages of skilled labour exacerbated by Brexit. As Mark Farmer sees it, the British construction sector must modernise or die.
One company helping the drive to modernise the British construction business is Green Life Buildings (GLB). For 15 years, company CEO Chris Williams – a highly qualified and experienced materials scientist – has lived with his family in a house constructed almost entirely of prefabricated expanded polystyrene panels. Chris imported the panels from Italy and with the help of friends built the house himself. It has proven to be an easy-to-run, comfortable home, warm in winter and cool in summer and very energy efficient.
In 2020, start-up GLB is manufacturing the panels in its Corby Northamptonshire factory for supply to the British construction industry. Using Emmedue (M2) Advanced Building System technology, the GLB factory will have a capacity of 700,000 square metres of panels a year, enough to build more than 3,000 average-sized family homes.
The ultra light EPS panels, enclosed in galvanised steel mesh with connectors, can be made to any specification and tailored to work with almost any design. They demonstrate high levels of fire, noise and heat resistance. Transporting the panels is easy and economical: they can be delivered flat-packed to any site. Once the panels are in position, onsite, a sprayer gives each panel a load-bearing concrete coat. Alternatively, the GLB factory can ship complete accommodation modules – using standard templates or bespoke designs – to serve as individual homes or even, if stacked, to create larger, multi-storey buildings. They can be delivered straight or curved in a wide range of sizes to meet demanding architectural specifications.
The M2 Building System may be little known in the UK, but it reflects 35 years of Italian engineering excellence and continuous technical innovation. Globally, these adaptable panels are the building blocks for structures of many shapes and sizes. These include simple homes and imaginatively designed factories, airport terminals, multi-storey hotels and corporate headquarters. They have proven their strength and stability in earthquake zones and their durability in widely varying climates and conditions. More than 100 million square meters of M2 panels in all shapes and sizes, already provide the basis for tens of thousands of buildings world-wide.
At the turn of the 20th century, when the internal combustion engine started to take over from horse power, cars were built by hand like the horse-drawn carriages they were replacing – until Henry Ford introduced the automobile equivalent of MMC. But even the great innovator would have been astonished at today’s electronically sophisticated cars and production technology. A visit to one of today’s automated factories would have had him staring agape at the agile, swivelling robots that outnumber their human co-workers. And who, today, wouldn’t opt to drive a smooth, modern car over one made with technology pre-dating Henry Ford?
Compare British home building with automobile production. How much has fundamentally changed in the last 100 or so years in how Britain builds its houses? Concrete, bricks, mortar, slates or tiles are still the norm with a complex, weather-dependent process taking skilled workers many months to complete. Take a look at a typical noisy, dirty British construction site. From start to finish, streams of trucks deliver the different building materials and components needed for the various stages of the construction process, polluting the neighbourhood and disturbing neighbours, while local traffic is disrupted or diverted to get cranes working onsite.
A number of companies now offer modular offsite construction and systems that qualify for official recognition as MMCs. But Green life Building and its Advanced Building System offer unique advantages to developers and building contractors: the lightness and strength of its basic panels obviate the need for cranes or other external equipment, reducing the risk of onsite accidents and greatly speeding the onsite building process.
Corporate giant JCB has recognised the unique benefits of Green Life Building’s methods and technology, choosing a demonstration of GLB’s Advanced Building System to show off its latest rotating telehandler. In an unusual example of David and Goliath teamwork, GLB and JCB showed how as partners they enhance safety and cut construction time and costs in new house building.
Simple and light to transport and manoeuvre in even the most adverse conditions, M2 panels weigh no more than 5kgs per square metre before concrete coating. This means that one worker, on his own, can easily handle and position a room-high wall panel before it gets its shotcrete treatment in situ. In a striking advance to simplify the whole construction process, M2 panels – used singly or doubled up – can serve as internal or external load-bearing walls, as floors, ceilings and even as stairs or roofs. The unique, unitary approach to construction components guarantees great cost benefits compared to traditional construction methods or to alternative modular MMC systems.
The Green Life Buildings business model also offers builders unique financial advantages compared with other offsite MMCs. Typically, an offsite MMC manufacturer will require 100% upfront payments on order, putting significant strain on a developer’s cash flow, especially where SMEs are concerned.  In stark contrast, GLB charges only a 15% deposit prior to delivery of its Advanced Building System materials.
The very first order for a GMB home is for a bungalow in Surrey; and plans are afoot to create more homes using GLB’s Advanced Building System in the South of England.  With the Green Life Buildings factory gearing up to full production capacity, the GLB team is busily creating networks and partnerships in the construction, housing and finance industries.
With sophisticated finance partners, GLB is working to offer turnkey funded solutions for cash conscious Housing Associations, Local Authorities and developers.  In return for a minimum 20-year lease agreement, GLB’s partners will fund a project, thereby relieving financially constrained or prudent housing bodies of the major burden of raising or finding upfront capital to cover the cost of building works.  With GLB focusing on design and product supply, this financing model should help speed the development of sorely needed new homes. With architects already at work, a Birmingham Housing Association will this year build 30 homes using the scheme.
A survey by the NHBC asked builders and housing associations to list in order of importance the benefits they look for in an MMC. Green Life Buildings meets each one of these goals:

Faster build programme – Complete a watertight shell with GLB in 7-10 days.

Improved build quality – GLB’s Advanced Building System delivers precision tooled components.

Tackle skills shortage – GLB’s factory panels reduce need for a high-skilled, high-cost workforce.

Reduce costs – No cranes needed using GLB materials – one truck delivers a family home.

Improve profitability – Speedier completion with GLB materials minimise capital costs.


To learn more details about how the GLB Advanced Building System can help you build houses better, cheaper and faster, go to the company website, where you can ask questions and get answers from the company’s experts.