Concrete 3D printed in patterns inspired by the internal structure of lobster shells.


Bio-inspired: How lobsters can help make stronger 3D printed concrete

New research shows that patterns inspired by lobster shells can make 3D printed concrete stronger, to support more complex and creative architectural structures.

Digital manufacturing technologies like 3D concrete printing (3DCP) have immense potential to save time, effort and material in construction.

They also promise to push the boundaries of architectural innovation, yet technical challenges remain in making 3D printed concrete strong enough for use in more free-form structures.




In a new experimental study, researchers at RMIT University looked to the natural strength of lobster shells to design special 3D printing patterns.

Their bio-mimicking spiral patterns improved the overall durability of the 3D printed concrete, as well as enabling the strength to be precisely directed for structural support where needed.

When the team combined the twisting patterns with a specialised concrete mix enhanced with steel fibres, the resulting material was stronger than traditionally-made concrete.

Lead researcher Dr Jonathan Tran said 3D printing and additive manufacturing opened up opportunities in construction for boosting both efficiency and creativity.

“3D concrete printing technology has real potential to revolutionise the construction industry, and our aim is to bring that transformation closer,” said Tran, a senior lecturer in structured materials and design at RMIT.

“Our study explores how different printing patterns affect the structural integrity of 3D printed concrete, and for the first time reveals the benefits of a bio-inspired approach in 3DCP.

“We know that natural materials like lobster exoskeletons have evolved into high-performance structures over millions of years, so by mimicking their key advantages we can follow where nature has already innovated.”


3D printing for construction

The automation of concrete construction is set to transform how we build, with construction the next frontier in the automation and data-driven revolution known as industry 4.0.

A 3D concrete printer builds houses or makes structural components by depositing the material layer-by-layer, unlike the traditional approach of casting concrete in a mould.

With the latest technology, a house can be 3D printed in just 24 hours for about half the cost, while construction on the world’s first 3D printed community began in 2019 in Mexico.

The emerging industry is already supporting architectural and engineering innovation, such as a 3D printed office building in Dubai, a nature-mimicking concrete bridge in Madrid and The Netherlands’ sail-shaped “Europe Building”.

The research team in RMIT’s School of Engineering focuses on 3D printing concrete, exploring ways to enhance the finished product through different combinations of printing pattern design, material choices, modelling, design optimisation and reinforcement options.


Patterns for printing

The most conventional pattern used in 3D printing is unidirectional, where layers are laid down on top of each other in parallel lines.

The new study published in a special issue of 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing investigated the effect of different printing patterns on the strength of steel fibre-enhanced concrete.

Previous research by the RMIT team found that including 1-2% steel fibres in the concrete mix reduces defects and porosity, increasing strength. The fibres also help the concrete harden early without deformation, enabling higher structures to be built.

The team tested the impact of printing the concrete in helicoidal patterns (inspired by the internal structure of lobster shells), cross-ply and quasi-isotropic patterns (similar to those used for laminated composite structures and layer-by-layer deposited composites) and standard unidirectional patterns.


Supporting complex structures


The results showed strength improvement from each of the patterns, compared with unidirectional printing, but Tran said the spiral patterns hold the most promise for supporting complex 3D printed concrete structures.

“As lobster shells are naturally strong and naturally curved, we know this could help us deliver stronger concrete shapes like arches and flowing or twisted structures,” he said.

“This work is in early stages so we need further research to test how the concrete performs on a wider range of parameters, but our initial experimental results show we are on the right track.”

Further studies will be supported through a new large-scale mobile concrete 3D printer recently acquired by RMIT – making it the first research institution in the southern hemisphere to commission a machine of this kind. The 5×5m robotic printer will be used by the team to research the 3D printing of houses, buildings and large structural components.

The team will also use the machine to explore the potential for 3D printing with concrete made with recycled waste materials such as soft plastic aggregate.

The work is connected to a new project with industry partners Replas and SR Engineering, focusing on sound-dampening walls made from post-consumer recycled soft plastics and concrete, which was recently supported with an Australian Government Innovations Connections grant.








Contour Crafting’s 3D concrete printing technology. Image via CC Corp.


A project carried out by the Tsinghua University’s School of Architecture has successfully constructed a 3D printed concrete bookstore in Shanghai’s Wisdom Bay Innovation Park.

The bookstore is due to open to the public at the end of January, and was printed on-site in three weeks, project lead He Yuting told the Global Times.

The building, which will reportedly be China’s first 3D printed concrete bookstore, is the latest in a string of structures based at the innovation park that have been designed and built using additive manufacturing.

3D printing in Wisdom Bay

Built on the former site of a wool textile mill, the Wisdom Bay Innovation Park has been named Shanghia’s first popular science park. Here, more than 300 companies from across the globe engage in 3D printing, intelligent micro manufacturing, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI) robotics projects. Wisdom Bay is also reportedly home to the world’s only 3D printing museum.

In 2019, a 26.3 meter-long and 3.6 meter-wide concrete bridge, hailed the world’s largest at the time, was completed and installed in the park. The project was also carried out by Tsinghua University, which 3D printed the concrete components in 450 hours.

Constructing the bookstore

The project team used “fiber concrete” as the 3D printing material to construct the bookstore in order to resist compression and earthquake effects. Equipped with an underfloor heating system, the building has a floor space of 30 square meters and is able to accommodate 15 people at any one time.

The team printed the structure in three parts. The main outer round wall was printed in-situ, while the roof and the remaining part of the outer wall were printed separately. Now that the printing of the bookstore has been completed, it will be decorated before opening to the public at the end of January.

A new chapter for concrete 3D printing

Concrete 3D printing is being increasingly utilized within the building and construction sector, in many cases providing a cheaper, faster, and low-waste alternative to conventional construction techniques. Optimizing the concrete printing process has been the subject of several recent and ongoing research projects, as has the development of new concrete compositions suitable for rapid additive manufacturing and innovative printing methods.

The US Governent’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has previously demonstrated the potential military applications of concrete 3D printing in partnership with Texas-based construction firm ICON, while concrete specialists QUIKRETE and Contour Crafting Corporation (CC Corp) have partnered for the automated construction of residential, commercial, and industrial buildings in Los Angeles using CC Corp’s concrete printing technology.

Facilities dedicated to the advancement of concrete 3D printing have also sprung up, including 3D concrete specialist Vertico’s new concrete printing facility in Eindhoven which is designed to accelerate its commercial and architectural building applications. Elsewhere, the American University in Dubai announced plans to establish a scientific research center for 3D printing concrete buildings in collaboration with Dubai-based 3D printing service bureau, 3DVinci Creations.


Source: 3D Printing Idustry




L-R Scott Bibby of CoreHaus; Sarah Slaven of Business Durham; and Cllr Carl Marshall of Durham County Council

Innovative modular housebuilder, CoreHaus, is opening its first UK manufacturing site at a County Durham business park as part of its scale-up plans.

CoreHaus has secured its new 20,000 sq ft unit at Jade Business Park, in Murton near Seaham, and recruited a highly skilled team to start production of its unique modular homes, which have already been successfully trialled in the North East of England.

CoreHaus will now be able to expand production and perform a greater scope of work including the assembly of steel frames that are central to its modular homes. The company’s five-year plan will see CoreHaus producing 1,000 modular homes a year, resulting in more than 100 people working across the business.

Managing director of CoreHaus, Scott Bibby, said: “With such a great facility situated in the heart of the North East and at such a competitive rate, it made perfect sense to set up our manufacturing site at Jade Business Park.

“County Durham has a highly skilled and rich labour market which we have already begun to take advantage of. This has allowed us to employ a diverse, highly competent and experienced team from the surrounding area which will allow best practice from multiple industries to be deployed into our products.

“As a social enterprise the generation of social value is highly important to us. The support from Business Durham and the Council has been fantastic so far, we look forward to strengthening this relationship and building upon it further in the future.”

CoreHaus is a joint-venture company between Newton Aycliffe based Carlton & Co Group, the parent company behind North East based Homes by Carlton, and national social enterprise Fusion21, specialists in public procurement for the built environment based near Liverpool.

CoreHaus homes appear much like any traditional build. They differ to both standard brick-built homes as well as other modular designs because of the way they are constructed and assembled. CoreHaus is a flexible combination of being part modular, with a standard, engineered core, that can be configured to meet customer requirements.

Scott Bibby added: “We have been really pleased with the interest and early demand shown for our innovative product. The concept was successfully piloted with Homes by Carlton at a site in County Durham last summer and we are now looking to work together on other new housing developments across the region.

“We’re also talking to local authorities and housing associations. Several have already told us they love the flexible, high-quality nature of the product. It is quick to build, easy to adapt and has a low-carbon footprint.”

Sarah Slaven, Interim managing director at Business Durham, said: “It’s fantastic that CoreHaus have chosen to open their first UK manufacturing site at Jade Business Park, joining Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems Europe in the first phase of the park. “

Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “We are delighted to welcome CoreHaus to Jade Business Park.  As the economy continues to feel the impact of Covid-19 it is vital we support economic growth and job creation.  Creating high quality facilities to encourage businesses to move to the county is key to generating new opportunities for County Durham residents.  We look forward to welcoming further businesses to this premier development in the near future.”





Shearwater Energy, which describes itself as a UK-based hybrid clean energy company, is developing a wind-small modular reactor and hydrogen production hybrid energy project in North Wales. Shearwater says it has selected the SMR (Small Modular Reactor) technology being developed by NuScale and has signed a memorandum of understanding with the US company to further collaboration in advancing the proposed project.

The project would provide 3 GWe of zero-carbon energy and is also expected to produce over 3 million kilograms of green hydrogen per year for use by the UK’s transport sector, “ensuring full utilisation of the energy produced”, Shearwater said. The company has submitted a proposal to the UK government and the devolved governments of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Under the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding), Shearwater and NuScale will generally explore opportunities for the combined generation of nuclear power based on NuScale’s leading SMR technology, offshore wind energy and hydrogen production at sites in the UK, with a flagship opportunity being explored at Wylfa on Anglesey. As international renewable energy portfolios grow, this collaboration highlights the increasing momentum and need for more flexible and reliable low-carbon energy generation.

NuScale’s assessment of the UK supply chain concluded that more than 75% of the content of a NuScale plant could be sourced within the UK, Shearwater said.

“Combining low-carbon generating technologies enables us to achieve similar performance characteristics to large thermal plants without the high cost, long construction time and environmental legacy,” Shearwater CEO Simon Forster said.

“When fully developed, an SMR-wind plant at Wylfa will provide 3 GW of reliable, zero-carbon electricity at a fraction of the cost of a conventional nuclear power station with surplus energy generation focused on the production of hydrogen to support the transport sector’s transition to low-carbon fuels. Power generation at Wylfa could begin as early as 2027,” he said.



John Hopkins, chairman and CEO of NuScale Power, added in the same statement: “NuScale looks forward to demonstrating the innovative features of our SMR design, and how our load following capability is a perfect complement to Shearwater’s offshore wind project as the country seeks to meet its clean energy goals.”

The UK recently announced plans to expand offshore wind capacity by 2030 and invest in SMR development to meet net-zero carbon emissions goals by 2050.

A Shearwater-NuScale wind-nuclear energy system will provide reliable, load following power to overcome intermittency and grid stability issues, Shearwater said. Additionally, the green hydrogen it produces will support industry, transport, power and homes “providing a further opportunity for decarbonisation and affordable energy security”, it said.

In August last year, NuScale became the first SMR developer ever to receive design approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. NuScale says that its first power company customer will be breaking ground in 2023 in the US state of Idaho.

Its SMR design – the NuScale Power Module – is a pressurised water reactor with all the components for steam generation and heat exchange incorporated into a single integrated unit. The company said in November last year that, following value engineering efforts using advanced testing and modelling tools, it had concluded that the unit could generate 77 MWe (gross) per module, or about 924 MWe for a 12-module power plant. The increased power output comes without any major changes to the NPM technology.

Source: World Nuclear News


Data may well be the new oil, but the ability to interpret it properly is the oxygen for any business. Rob O’Connor reports on an insightful webinar on how digital transformation can help the UK build back better in the post-Covid recovery.

The vital importance of digital transformation to enable the construction industry to help the nation build back better as part of the post-Covid recovery emerged as the major theme of the first Infrastructure Intelligence webinar of the year on Friday 15 January 2021.

The special business webinar, Data – the foundation of construction transformation, in partnership with Atkins, gathered together a hugely influential panel of industry big-hitters to discuss the importance of data and its key role in construction transformation. Hosted by Infrastructure Intelligence editor Andy Walker, a top line up of panellists was led by Atkins UK CEO Richard Robinson. He was joined by Mace chief executive Mark Reynolds, Alison Atkinson, CEO at the Atomic Weapons Establishment and Stephen Dance, the director of commercial advice and delivery at the Infrastructure and Projects Authority.

Together, they outlined why the power of data is transformational at every level and essential if the industry is to make the improvements the nation is striving to achieve. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the construction sector to think differently, embrace digital and accelerate its transformation to a more technological driven and digital industry and the webinar reflected on this during an insightful and informative 90-minute session.

Building on the conclusions of a successful industry roundtable held on this issue last October, the panel drilled down into the debate about data, access to data and the importance of sharing data, as part of an illuminating discussion on how the industry can realise the full potential of construction’s digital transformation.

Richard Robinson, Atkins UK CEO, said: “Digital transformation is not a new topic, but it’s more important than ever before. The Covid crisis has underlined the need to stimulate the economy and our industry has a crucial role to play in building back better. However, our industry’s productivity has been pretty flat for over 20 years, compared to a 20% rise in productivity in other industries. So, it’s clear that a huge digital transformation is required across the industry, but the sector has made huge strides, especially in the last 12 months.

“We’re well on the way to creating a common data environment, sharing information right across the supply chain and leveraging data will help us transform construction on a day-to-day basis.” Asked how he saw data impacting decision-making around infrastructure delivery, Robinson said: “I think, put simply, we’ll be able to actually do some decision making. It would enable us to make decisions on a minute-by minute basis, rather than weeks or months as has previously been the case. It would help the industry work faster, cheaper, and much more effectively for everyone.”



Looking positively to the industry’s emerging and future workforce embracing the digital transformation, Robinson said: “We’ve noticed that graduates are focussing very much on climate change. That means access for the industry to recruit new data scientists is changing at pace – and that bodes very well for the industry and society as a whole.”

Mark Reynolds, Mace chief executive, said: “Some say data is the new oil and if the past ten months are anything to go by, that’s certainly true. No matter what we do, how we do it, or at what stage of the process, data is essential to make better decisions, learn and build a knowledge database.”

Covid had made a difference to industry forcing it to work differently, said Reynolds. “It took the coronavirus pandemic to get our teams and clients to realise the real value of data and what can be achieved if you think enterprise and data – it has been transformational,” he said.

“It’s providing us with information to make better decisions, seek areas for lower costs, drive efficiency, improve safety, quality and productivity which will allow us to pay higher salaries and create a more attractive industry,” Reynolds  said. “The power of data is transformational at every level and essential if the industry is to make the improvements we are all striving to achieve,” he said.

Alison Atkinson, CEO and managing director at the Atomic Weapons Establishment pointed out that data security is obviously paramount and described data as “the oxygen of any business”. “Data, and the ability to interpret it properly, is the oxygen of any business. The reliability of business data coming through is vital, and there’s a need to achieve consistency right across the industry,” she said.

“It’s still about people who interpret data and produce fantastic outcomes – and there’s a huge opportunity to link the digital savvy of today’s established and emerging engineers with upgrading the skills of current decision makers,” Atkinson said.

Stephen Dance, director of commercial advice and delivery at the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, said that digital transformation provided a “massive opportunity” for the industry to help the nation build back better as part of the post-Covid recovery.

“When the economy is in deep trouble – which it is – and we want to build our way out of trouble, then we’ve got to look at the whole issue of companies that have been unproductive and have maybe procured in the wrong way,” he said. “We need to look at the whole lifecycle of buildings – from carbon, cost, modern methods of construction – and at the heart of that has to be the way we use and measure data,” said Dance.

“From a sustainability standpoint, it’s important we use the data technology to help us build back better and greener. Without breaching people’s personal data, I would like to see data become free for the common good – and I’d like to see information shared as benchmarks for best practice,” Dance said.

Commenting on the webinar, Infrastructure Intelligence editor Andy Walker said: “There is no doubt that senior decision makers and clients across the infrastructure sector want to see digital innovations from the design, engineering and consultancy sector to help support their organisations and it’s abundantly clear that data will be a crucial part of this change.

“The panellists at the webinar have done the industry a real service by sharing their insights and thoughts on how construction’s digital future will unfold and crucially what that will mean for those that work in the industry and also those that experience that work. Full marks too to Atkins for taking a leadership position on this crucial issue for the sector.”

Click here to watch a recording of the “Data – the foundation of construction transformation” webinar.

Source: Infrastructure Intelligence

Support for all of those involved in the housing market, from renters and buyers to builders, and measures to help the construction industry to work safely during the pandemic, has led to an increase in the number of completed homes, new housebuilding figures show.

The official statistics show 35,710 homes were started in July to September 2020 – a 111% increase when compared to the previous quarter – while, 45,000 homes were completed in the same period, representing a 185% increase on the previous quarter.

Today’s figures reflect the housing and construction industry’s resilience and measures they have taken to keep building sites open, in line with public health advice.



Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

“Today’s figures show that the number of new homes developers have started building have more than doubled compared to the previous quarter and the number of completed homes has almost tripled.”

“This reflects the government’s commitment throughout the pandemic to support industry to enable construction sites to remain open and operate safely.”

“We extended planning permission deadlines and flexible working hours on sites so that builders, architects and developers have been able to continue working, while following public health advice.”

“In turn this has protected millions of jobs, from builders, through to estate agents and carpenters.”

“The housing industry is key to our economic recovery, which is why we’re investing £12 billion in affordable housing, providing £400 million to build more homes on brownfield land, and investing £7.1 billion for a new National Home Building Fund over the next 4 years, unlocking up to 860,000 homes.”


Source: Property Notify


Rolls-Royce is planning to build 16 Small Modular Reactors, and says the first one could be on the grid by 2031 (Credit: Rolls-Royce).

Rolls-Royce is planning to build 16 Small Modular Reactors, and says the first one could be on the grid by 2031.

For many, nuclear power stations are eyesores – great slabs of gun-metal grey cluttering up the UK’s coastlines. But that could be about to change.

Last year FTSE 100 blue-bloods Rolls-Royce announced it was planning on building a fleet of 16 so-called “small modular reactors” (SMRs) in a move that would shake up the UK’s nuclear landscape.

According to an artist’s impression, the engine-maker’s model will resemble a cross between an oversized woodlouse and an armadillo – a far cry from the behemoths to which we have become accustomed.

“Effectively, what we’re doing is building a nuclear power station in a factory”, explains Tom Samson, the chief executive of the consortium developing Rolls’ SMR.

“That’s what’s unique about this project”.


An artist’s impression of Rolls-Royce’s SMR (Credit: Rolls-Royce).

Unlike other SMR projects, Rolls-Royce elected not to tamper with the nuclear technology itself, focusing instead on how it could make the project as low-cost as possible by building it in individual pieces.

Samson explains: “By using a factory-based environment, we can use all the latest technology to commoditise the building process. That means that we can use what we learn on every single piece that comes out.”

When all the pieces are ready, they are loaded onto trucks and delivered to site, where they are then assembled – just like the modular building techniques widely-used in construction today.

It all sounds rather painless, and it doesn’t take long for costs to come down either. The initial plants, Samson says, will cost around £2.2bn, but by the fifth model, that price has come down to £1.8bn.

Compared to the decades-long process of building big nuclear power stations such as Hinkley Point C in Somerset – now estimated to cost £22bn – and you can see why the project is gathering fans fast.

Among these is the UK government, which in November put £215m into the project – and will be matched by £300m by the private sector.

This is another huge advantage of the SMR, says Samson. Unlike large-scale nuclear, where costs are so high that building them without government support is very difficult, Rolls-Royce’s model is designed to be a magnet for private investment.

“We’re not looking for the government to stick its balance sheet behind this after the initial investment. What we’ve got is a very efficient capital deployment programme that minimises the role of government in getting it to market.”

So when might we see these SMRs in action? Samson is bullish that the first could be on the grid by the start of the 2030s.

“This is not a reality for the future – this is a reality for now”, he said. “When we get an order, we can get the first one on grid in 10 years.”



Power surge calls for new nuclear solution

With renewable energy making up more and more of the UK’s power supply by the day, many have questioned whether nuclear power has had its day.

But for Samson, there’s no doubt. “By 2050, we are probably going to need double the amount of power to support all the new electrification activity that’s going to happen in this country.

“Renewables are intermittent – what nuclear gives you is dependable, reliable, constantly available clean energy that can be run all day.”

The Committee on Climate Change – the government’s leading advisers on the energy transition – agrees, saying the UK should aim for 10 gigawatts of new nuclear power by 2035.

Crucially, it’s no more expensive. Samson estimates that the price of power from his SMRs will be between £40 and £50 per megawatt-hour – roughly the same as that paid for renewables, and half the cost of power from Hinkley Point.

And embracing the technology could also lead to a jobs boom at a time of uncertainty for the UK’s manufacturing industry.

Rolls-Royce estimates that over the next five years the programme will create 6,000 jobs – but over the next 20 years, when the project has been scaled up, this could rise to as many as 40,000 jobs.

The economic benefits could yet be greater, says Samson, with several foreign countries already in discussions with the consortium over the technology, including Turkey, the Czech Republic, and Poland – all nations with high carbon footprints but limited renewables resources.

“This is probably first time in probably five decades that we have a nuclear solution here in the UK, so the export potential is huge”, he said.

“We are a leading edge country when it comes to innovation and if we get behind this technology then other countries will follow suit.”

Ultimately, says Samson, it’s time to start preparing the ground to make sure the rollout of the SMRs can be as smooth as possible when the orders start coming in.

“Our programme is not dependent or conditional on any large project going ahead. We’ve got a solution and design and an ability to create a supply chain that could be self-sufficient, and we’re ready to go.”

As far as Samson is concerned, smaller really is better.


Source: City A.M.









Ambitious plans for a ‘ground-breaking’ cohesive-use scheme at Nottingham’s The Island Quarter development have been submitted.

The latest phase – which is the flagship of Conygar’s The Island Quarter development – would include a 223-room hotel, 247 residential apartments and an extensive food and beverage area.

James Dilley, director at architect Jestico+Whiles, says the design focuses on the spirit of community, conviviality and collaboration. “The design we have brought forward really reflects the synergy of uses that the wider scheme will create, and we hope will create a ripple effect across the entire site and across Nottingham itself.”

Richard Watson of developer Conygar adds: “The Island Quarter is the biggest city-centre regeneration schemes in the UK, and we believe it is vital for the development to bring something outstanding to Nottingham, for which the city and the Midlands can be proud of.”

“We are fortunate to have a site in Nottingham with its great heritage and an international reputation – with developments such as this and, among other schemes, the renovation of Nottingham Castle, we want to ensure it retains its rightful place as the Queen of the Midlands and a core UK city.”

The proposal is believed to be the UK’s first cohesive-use development, incorporating multiple uses within the same flowing space, similar to Roppongi Hills in Tokyo.

Several aspects of the design have been created to meet changing needs in the aftermath of the pandemic, such as flexible spaces, relaxing community areas and green public realm.

David Jones, director at Axis Planning, which has coordinated all planning-related inputs on the scheme since its inception, comments: “This latest phase of the Island Quarter is ground-breaking in a number of ways. The ground floor provides an extensive, mixed-use food and beverage-led experience incorporating restaurant, bar, forum and atrium space in a way that hasn’t been done before in the UK.”

“The mix of linked buildings together with integral and adjacent open spaces provides a fluidity within the development which will be essential in a post-Covid world. We’re convinced this will create a truly unique experience for people to visit and to stay, live, work and play.”

The Island Quarter masterplan, which received outline planning approval in April 2019, has been designed with a full lifecycle of uses, ranging from student housing, office space and community living.


The first phase of properties to be released at a new Sheffield development has been unveiled by UK Build to Rent developer Placefirst.

Skye Edge, a £16.5 million housing development, is set to ‘create a thriving family community’ of 113 new homes comprising 69 three-bedroom and 44 four-bedroom townhouses.

Situated at the boundary of Norfolk Heritage Park and the Manor Area of Sheffield, the scheme promises a 270-degree view of the cityscape and moorland to the west. The site had remained vacant and awaiting redevelopment since 2005.

The first 21 properties and show home are now open to the public for viewings. Each home maintains modern living with stylish interiors and practical layouts. They feature a separate lounge and kitchen, with residents able to enjoy both private and communal garden spaces.

Skye Edge is a 10-minute walk to the city centre and is nearby to seven primary and secondary schools. Economic growth in Sheffield is also outperforming other regional cities and is on target to create an additional 70,000 jobs by 2025.

The scheme is underpinned by Placefirst’s aim to offer a viable alternative to home ownership. As well as letting properties, the developer designs, builds, maintains and manages the homes. Work on the development is expected to be completed in the autumn of 2021.

David Mawson, chief executive for Placefirst, comments: “Offering arguably the best views in Sheffield, this is a major landmark development for us and one which we feel will be embraced by families seeking quality built homes and superb commuter routes into the city centre.”

“Expensive house prices can be out of reach for many hard-working families. We therefore believe that renting can be a long-term alternative to buying a house and feel this development will appeal to those wanting the security of moving to a new home for the rest of their life – without the financial pressure of being saddled with a mortgage.”

“We look forward to welcoming people to Skye Edge to view our beautiful new homes and experience the views they have to offer,” he concludes.



An installation phase for 58 apartments in High Wycombe has also been completed as part of a £9 million emergency housing scheme.

Due for completion this summer, the project is being delivered by an innovative partnership between off-site construction specialists Premier Modular and Claritas Group.

Manufactured and fully fitted out off-site, the highly sustainable apartments are being completed in a much shorter timescale to help meet the rising demand for housing for homeless people.

Each home arrived on-site complete with shower rooms and kitchens. The apartments are built around a central courtyard which will provide a valuable amenity space for residents.

“There is an urgent need across the UK for emergency accommodation for people, who, often through no fault of their own, have become homeless,” says Dan Allison, director of Premier Modular.

“These individuals and families need housing for a short period of time, while a more permanent place is found for them to live. Offsite construction is very well suited to building this type of housing.”

“As well as meeting the required standards for quality and sustainability, we can reduce the completion time to deliver new homes more quickly for people on emergency housing waiting lists.”

The building has been designed to enhance the local area and to deliver a high standard of environmental performance. The energy-efficient ‘fabric first approach’ to the development’s construction will increase the level of insulation, reduce heat loss and air infiltration, and will use roof-mounted solar panels to generate electricity.

Jon Wardle, chief executive officer of Claritas Group, adds: “Temporary housing is a challenge for many local authorities. We are extremely proud to be involved in this exciting project with Buckinghamshire Council and Premier Modular.”

“Our innovative partnership with Premier combined with the Council’s ambition and desire to think MMC first, are providing measurable benefits in time, cost and quality.”



A ‘pivotal’ residential development featuring 250 properties with photovoltaic (PV) solar panels has completed in Nelson and Colne in Lancashire.

Delivered by social housing provider Together Housing Association, supply chain partners Avonside Group and structural engineers Howard Ward Associates (HWA), the scheme is the result of a three-year project to help revolutionise the sector’s usage of renewable energy.

The £2 million project sees 170 of Together Housing’s homes in Colne and 80 properties in Nelson fitted with solar panels, as well as on-site battery storage units which fill with solar energy during the day, storing power for use whenever it is needed.

The solar panels were delivered by Avonside Renewables, a division of Avonside Group. It appointed HWA in 2019 to assess the different types of properties, determining which were suitable and had the capacity for solar panels and battery systems.

The project marks a significant step towards converting England’s homes to renewable energy sources, and to the UK’s target of becoming a net-zero country by 2050.

Residents of the properties have reported substantial cost savings during the first few months since the solar panels and battery storage units were installed. They can expect to save as much as £300 per year on their energy bills.

There is the potential to roll out the project to 20,000 of Together Housing’s 37,000-plus homes across the country once the success of the landmark scheme has been assessed.

Giles Ward, director at HWA, says: “As one of the largest projects of its kind in social housing, we were proud to impart our expertise to help determine the feasibility of the properties. It was a pleasure to work with Avonside Group, which has worked with many businesses and organisations in multi sectors, to reduce carbon emissions.”

Etienne Hilaire, branch manager at Avonside Group, adds: “Solar and storage systems offer social housing providers the opportunity to open up many cost-saving and energy-reducing benefits to both their tenants and their business.”

“This was a substantial project for Together Housing and it’s fantastic what has been delivered. We have already seen the positive impact this is having, with tenants in Colne and Nelson reporting a reduction in their energy bills, thus helping to combat fuel poverty.”

He concludes: “The potential to roll this project out to similar housing schemes around the UK could have an incredible impact on our energy consumption on a national scale.”


Source: Property Investor Today






Flickr/Creative Commons License/Nicolás Boullosa Wikkelhouse, by Amsterdam-based Fiction Factory

This time of year, paper and cardboard are omnipresent materials. One-time-use boxes, bags, and sacks have proliferated during the pandemic because of the increase in mail-order and food delivery services, and enjoyed another spike during the holiday gift-giving season. According to the Fibre Box Association, corrugated box shipments grew 9% in 2020 over 2019.

This increase in the consumption of shipping materials hasn’t created any significant environmental concern, however (beyond the carbon footprint of transportation in general), presumably due to the high recycling rates of paper and cardboard. (Corrugated packaging is, according to its representative industry, the most recycled substance on the planet—with 96% recovered in 2018.) Furthermore, paper and cardboard are considered greener alternatives to plastics, and many companies are shifting to these biomaterials to meet their plastic reduction goals.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that paper products are not recycled so much as downcycled—meaning that they lose quality and value each time they are broken down and remade anew. According to industrial products distributor R. S. Hughes, corrugated cardboard may be recycled up to eight times. Afterward, the material is likely to be burned or composted, thus releasing its stored carbon. If used exclusively for single-use shipping applications, these eight lives may represent a brief timeline compared with other uses. Given the relatively long duration of buildings, for instance, a sensible alternative might be to upcycle paper in architectural applications, which would significantly extend its lifespan.

Paper does have a long history as a building material. Japanese shoji screens, which consist of lightweight wood frames filled with paper, evolved from Chinese folding screens that date back as far as 400 BCE. In contemporary architecture, Shigeru Ban, Hon. FAIA, has earned widespread acclaim for his paper tube-based construction techniques. Ban started his experiments in the 1980s and has used cardboard construction tubes, which can be manufactured from 100% recycled content (they were developed in the mid-20th century as concrete forms for circular pilotis). Ban has not merely employed off-the-shelf tubes, however; he has collaborated extensively with engineers and testing facilities to develop optimal water-resistant coatings and connection details to ensure paper’s longevity when used in challenging structural—sometimes even exterior—applications. Ban’s most recent paper tube work is the Paper Green House, completed last year in Kanazawa City, Japan. The luminous building features an expansive barrel vault composed of paper tubes and metal connectors, which support a light-transmitting greenhouse roof above and a grapevine trellis below.



Cardboard can also be used as exterior insulation. Amsterdam-based Fiction Factory incorporates the material in its Wikkelhouse, a modular prefabricated dwelling system made primarily of bio-based products. The design gets its name from the Dutch word wikkelen, or “wrapping,” and features composite exterior panels made of 24 layers of cardboard adhered with eco-friendly glue. Each module is 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) deep and is clad in plywood (interior) and water-resistant wood paneling (exterior). The Wikkelhouse construction system is lightweight (only 500 kg per module), has performed well in structural and thermal tests, and is fully recyclable.

Interior paper finishes require less rigorous testing. Consider the Cardboard Office, designed by Pune, India-based Studio VDGA. The architects crafted undulating surfaces composed of stratified 73 mm (2.9 inch) thick honeycomb cardboard sandwiched between 6 mm (1/4 inch) MDF strips. In addition to providing the necessary structural strength for interior partitions, the structured panels also function acoustically—absorbing sound via the exposed honeycomb interlayers. The stacked wall system additionally facilitates the incorporation of windows, doors, and display shelves.

Nudes, a Mumbai-based architecture office, devised a similar interior application for Cardboard, an award-winning restaurant located in the firm’s home city. In the design, the architects oriented the cardboard vertically without using MDF strips.

When one considers how many other building products are made from cardboard—including furniture, light fixtures, and countless accessories—it is possible to imagine an architectural gesamtkunstwerk in paper. Such an approach can significantly extend the serviceable life of this resource, and once it has reached its eighth and final use, designers have developed even more eco-conscious applications. For example, Amsterdam-based Thom Bindels has designed the Ecosystem Kickstarter, a foldable cardboard construction used to revive and help bring back farming to eroded landscapes. Torino, Italy-based Studio Nucleo offers Terra!, a similarly structured cardboard soil-reinforcing system designed in the shape of a chair or sofa. These and other creative approaches demonstrate the ways architects and designers can give a potentially temporary, throw-away substance an enduring, multifunctional life.


VIDEO – Visit the Carboard Restaurant


Source: Architect Magazine


Many of us are aware of nuclear energy’s destructive power, but could it also hold the secret to greener energy. With much of the United States depending on coal-fired plants, there have been mass calls for renewable green energy. With this at hand, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has recently approved tiny nuclear reactor designs.

Rita Baranwal, assistant secretary for Nuclear Energy at the Department of Energy, expressed enthusiasm regarding small modular reactions (SMRs) stating that it will be a cheaper solution while providing context-sensitive nuclear power that can cater to the growing needs of the majority.

Since its establishment in the early 1950s, nuclear power reactors have grown from a measly 60 MWe to over 1600 MWe. Small modular reactors, generally producing 300 MWe are designed to be smaller, cheaper, and safer than conventional reactors.



In 1942, Enrico Fermi, along with engineers from the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, designed one of the first few designs for nuclear reactors such as commercial boiling-water reactors. Argonne spearheaded the nuclear energy boom. However, like many inventions, not every design survived the passing of time.

Today, the high interest in SMRs stems from the simplicity it presents and the desire to reduce carbon emissions while providing power to larger grid systems.

Compared to traditional coal-fired plants that are old, costly, and main sources of carbon emissions, small nuclear reactors supply carbon-free energy for a smaller cost.

Within the past three decades, there has been no new nuclear construction in the United States. This is why the approval of NuScale’s designs are a significant “milestone not just for the company but for the

With a mission to continuously provide smarter, cleaner, and safer nuclear energy, NuScale is developing new SMRs that aims to supply carbon-free nuclear energy.

In 2019, NuScale, a small modular reactor startup from Oregon, signified its interest to pursue greener energy with the help of the Department of Energy. Despite being 1% the size of traditional coal-fired power plants, NuScale can deliver up to 10% of a plant’s power output.

With the help of roughly $300 million from the U.S Department of Energy research and development for a small nuclear reactor was possible. Compared to traditional power plants that require a 10-mile safety radius, SMRs can be built and operated in a close quarter with much lower risks of meltdowns.

Despite the boom in small modular reactors, we have to look forward to 2027 where NuScale is set to debut its first project. In partnership with the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, a small state-based organization that provides wholesale electricity to small communities in the surrounding states. NuScale is set to deliver its first small nuclear reactor to the UAMPS by 2027, which is set to be fully operational by 2029


Source: The Science Times