The sudden closure of a £29M modular-built school in Essex due to structural issues is unlikely to be an indication of flaws with modular construction, the Modular and Portable Building Association (MPBA) has said.

Only three years on from its completion, Sir Frederick Gibberd College in Harlow announced this week that its main building and sports hall block will be closed with immediate effect. The news came following a report from technical consultants from the Department for Education (DfE) that identified “structural irregularities”.

A statement from the school said:

“In April of this year, the DfE instructed a technical survey of the main school building which raised some queries about the structure. Following further analysis of the survey information, a report and risk assessment on the building structure was delivered to the DfE and shared with the trust late last week. Having regard to the reports received, the DfE is no longer able to verify the structural safety of the building, hence its advice to close.”

Staff and pupils from the school have also told ITV News that there were cracks, flooding and black mould in the school – particularly evident in the sports hall, which was not built modularly.

The school was built by contractor Caledonian Modular in 12 months between March 2020 and March 2021, during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

The main school building comprises 198 individual modules that were manufactured in a factory in the Midlands complete with concrete flooring, internal fit out and external cladding.

Watch a timelapse video of its construction:


Caledonian Modular, which had a place on the DfE’s £3bn modular framework, went into administration in March 2022 owing £20M to suppliers and clients.

Two Cornwall schools constructed by Caledonian Modular, Launceston Primary Academy and Newquay Primary Academy, were demolished in April this year. Both schools were only partially constructed before “several construction issues” were noticed by the DfE, leading to them being torn down.

Following surveys by the DfE, Haygrove School in Somerset, which was also constructed by Caledonian Modular, has been told that it cannot use its main building until further notice.

Regarding the closure of Sir Frederick Gibberd College, a DfE spokesperson said:

“We recognise that while these are isolated issues, they are very concerning to children and their families. We will be investigating what has happened and continue to work with schools and local authorities to minimise the impact of closures and ensure continuity of education for all pupils.”

DfE declined to share the technical report into the structural issues at Sir Frederick Gibberd College with NCE.

MPBA development director Richard Hipkiss told NCE:

“We don’t know any of the specifics except that it’s structurally unsafe – it could be to do with the construction method, it could be to do with the civils, it could be to do with how it was assembled.”

Nonetheless, Hipkiss placed the blame on Caledonian Modular. “I don’t think this story is a reflection of the construction methodology, but potentially of the constructor,” he said.

He highlighted the fact that the company had not become a member of the MPBA even though it was “approached several times”.

“We have a code of conduct to be a member,” Hipkiss said. “The MPBA promotes best practice, the development of standards, the competence of people. We do scrutinise members, particularly manufacturing members, when they apply – but I can confirm that Caledonian never applied for membership.”

Moreover, Hipkiss believes that the failure of Sir Frederick Gibberd College should not divert the public sector away from modular construction. Since 2021, the government has committed to rebuilding 400 schools around the country, with the latest order of 239 coming in December 2022. Hipkiss believes that modern methods of construction and volumetric modular construction (such as that seen on Sir Frederick Gibberd College) are essential to meet this demand.

He believes that Caledonian Modular’s failures are a “one-off situation” that is unlikely to be repeated. “It’s not a reflection on MPBA membership,” he said. “I could name a dozen of our manufacturers that have been operating successfully without issue since the 1950s.

“There are problems with traditional construction methods every now and again, as with any construction method. There are also many modular schools out there that are award winning and meet the client brief.”

Anglia Ruskin University professor of sustainable construction methods Saul Humphrey says that quality control might have been an issue for Caledonian Modular, particularly pertaining to cash flow issues.

“As with anything that’s innovative or less tested, perhaps with less mature supply chains, quality control is often compounded when there’s an issue regarding cash flow or solvency,” he said. “Knowing what happened next with Caledonian Modular and its insolvency, one wonders if there could have been some link to cash viability and paying of supply chain.”

“Often with these offsite modular businesses, they’ve spent so much setting up offsite factorires that they can’t do enough to recover that capital investment.”

Humphrey believes that the reports of cracks and mould leads to questions of structural integrity in the design, which in turn suggests a systemic failure with the construction company’s methodologies – especially as two of its other schools have also been condemned.

“I think there can sometimes be a focus with 3D modular companies to be very good at building the box but sometimes less experience at connecting modules together in a live site environment and integrating them with the appropriate mechanical and electrical systems, components and structures,” he said. “One wonders if there’s been quite enough time spent on connections, junctions, avoiding interstitial condensation, ensuring the right ventilation strategies.”

He points out the cracks in the sports hall as evidence of the contractor’s inexperience.

“The sports hall was the only part that wasn’t 3D modular, it looks like a gauge steel frame construction, but that also appears to have structural defects,” he said. “Again you’ve got a modular company doing something they may not be particularly experienced in.”

Unlike the MPBA, Humphrey believes that the DfE should take time to reconsider the modular approach to school building.

“I think it should pause, reflect and immediately take expert soundings to find the cause on each of these problems,” he said. “It could just be a Caledonian problem, not a modern methods of construction problem, but equally you couldn’t justify continuing if there is a question over the methodology.

“And just imagine all that embodied carbon sitting in that unused building. In a world facing the reality of climate change, we shouldn’t be building things twice.”

Source: New Civil Engineer

Maui Wildfire Burns Down Barriers To Prefab Home Building

Reversing tradition, Hawaii’s most powerful trade union is backing the idea to allow modular homes in Hawaii.

Houses made of pre-cut lumber that can be shipped to Hawaii and built quickly. Permanent modular homes that can be literally plugged into utility infrastructure on prepared sites. Cafes, shops and food courts created out of modified shipping containers.

These are the sorts of things that could help rebuild Lahaina after the devastation of the August 8 wildfires that destroyed approximately 2,200 buildings.

In a departure from a long-standing tradition driven by Hawaii’s powerful construction industry, Governor Josh Green said:

‘Modular and prefabricated housing will play a role in creating homes quickly to serve displaced residents and the state’s most influential construction trade union is in agreement.’

“The answer’s yes,” Green said, when asked whether homes or panels built off-site and even off-island could be part of the mix to rebuild Lahaina.

“I don’t think it’s the answer for all things,” he added. “I don’t think it’s what everybody wants all the time. But I’m sure there are individuals out there now who are suffering terrible loss who would love to have a small house that could be put up quickly.”

Andrew Pereira, director of public affairs for the Pacific Resource Partnership, confirmed the organization is on board. Pereira said:

‘It is vital to build new homes quickly so island residents aren’t forced to leave — and possibly never return — for lack of housing.

PRP’s buy-in is important. The non-profit, which represents the 6,000-member Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters and 240 general contractors, has also been one of Green’s major political supporters.

PRP has long opposed pre-made construction because of concerns developers using the products would undercut Hawaii’s construction industry – one of the few sectors that provides a consistent living wage in an economy dominated by tourism.

Maui’s tragedy has changed everything. We need to get medium-term and longer-term housing for people impacted by the tragedy, we don’t want to see Lahaina residents flee to the mainland, that’s the last thing we want to see.” Said Pereira

Green also feels the Maui fires could mark a new era.

“I think it’s safe and fair to say that because of the crisis in Maui everyone wants whatever solution is available to, as quickly as possible and to build housing that is going to provide dignity to people who live in it, even if it’s just for a couple of years,” he said.

“Whatever way we can do that we should,” he said. “I think this is probably the beginning of an era where we spend some of our energy on modular housing.”

Tom Hardiman, Executive Director of the Modular Home Builders Association and Modular Building Institute in the USA, said:

‘For a long time, homes built off construction sites involved mostly mobile homes, often used as temporary housing, which could be moved from place to place.  Now, the broad category of “off-site construction” includes tiny homes, shipping-container homes and modular houses, which are similar to mobile homes but built to higher standards and designed to be permanent structures. All of these can be built elsewhere and moved to a prepared site.’

There are also pre-cut houses that can be made in a factory elsewhere, sent to Hawaii by shipping container and constructed on site.

A common aspect, Hardiman said, is that there’s a systemic process for constructing buildings and components off site.

Pereira says PRP is looking at the pre-cut home model. A key will be finding partners that can provide enough pre-cut homes to serve Lahaina’s needs.

“It really comes down to a question of scalability,” he said.

Pereira said PRP is still talking to purveyors and prefabricated homes to determine which will work best for the industry.

Costs Are Not Always Lower

One of the biggest advantages is the speed in which prefabricated and modular homes can be built, said Steve Glenn, founder and director of Plant Prefab in Los Angeles. Such houses can be built faster because some construction can be going on off site at the same time as site work. The result can cut construction time by half, which can mean a lot more homes built in less time.

Cost is another consideration. Construction costs in Hawaii are substantial. Construction costs for a union-built single-family home can be above $500 per square foot, said R.J. Martin an Oahu developer who has developed single-family homes in Nanakuli.

Vamsi Kumar Kotla, chief executive of ReMo Homes in Sherman Oaks, California, said the company could build a 1,200-square-foot modular home for $300,000, or $250 a square foot. The homes include plumbing and electrical wiring and can simply be delivered and installed on prepared sites. Kotla acknowledged that the price does not include shipping from California, which could drive up the cost significantly.

The wildfire destroyed some 2,200 structures in Lahaina, some 85% of them homes. Will construction crews be able to rebuild fast enough to keep residents from fleeing the islands because of a lack of housing?

It’s not just homes that could be replaced using modular methods.

UrbanBloc of San Leandro, California, converts standard shipping containers into small commercial buildings to use for restaurants, coffee shops and retail spaces.  A standard 40-foot shipping container could be converted into a space for a coffee a small restaurant complete with kitchen equipment.

Even if the container buildings aren’t permanent fixtures in Lahaina, they could be stood up quickly to serve the construction workers and others who are rebuilding Lahaina and later transported somewhere else.


Construction Workers Also Will Need Housing

Which of these solutions makes its way to Hawaii in end might depend on PRP. Union carpenter jobs pay a rare living wage in Hawaii. Pereira said it’s important that modular home developers, who essentially lower costs by building houses in factories elsewhere, do not create an unfair playing field for the local workers.

Pereira added

‘Maui will need hundreds or thousands of new homes, not just for residents but also for an army of construction workers. And many of them will come from PRP, we are going to be there to provide the expert labour that’s needed to rebuild Lahaina,”

Source: Civil Beat

Between 1990 and 2020 the contribution of energy supply to the UK and Wales’ GHG emissions fell by 70% and 55% respectively, with renewable energy produced on farmland playing a central role in these reductions, Iwan Pugh-Jones the president of FUW (Farmers Union of Wales) Montgomershire says Farmers can be incentivised to do more.

Feed-in Tariffs introduced in 2010 were instrumental in more than doubling the proportion of renewable electricity consumed in Wales to 50% during the period to 2018.

During our meetings with politicians from all parties at the summer shows this month and last month, we highlighted that both the UK and Welsh Governments must step up efforts that restore growth in the industry by incentivising on-farm production of renewable energy – thereby reducing the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels and imported energy – without compromising agricultural production.

In response to a recent consultation, we welcomed the Welsh Government’s ambition to set a target for at least 1.5GW of renewable energy capacity to be locally owned by 2035 and its acknowledgement that the uptake of small-scale renewable energy technologies could be a key contributor to meeting this target.

We have highlighted the fact that pathways to reaching such targets must include urgent action at all levels of government. This must include the introduction of new incentives for farmers to invest into small-scale renewable energy projects on their land and buildings as well as the removal of barriers to such developments if the required fivefold increase in the generation of electricity in Wales between now and 2050 is to be achieved.

We were therefore happy to welcome the amendment at Stage Three of the Agriculture (Wales) Bill by Jane Dodds MS which is now part of the Bill. This amendment encourages agricultural businesses to manage energy effectively, including by adopting energy efficiency and energy saving practices, and generating renewable energy on their land.

Our reliance on and exposure to global fossil fuel markets has been laid bare over recent years. Vast amounts of renewable energy are produced on Welsh farmland, but we have only tapped into a fraction of what is possible. We need to ensure that barriers are removed and incentives restored in order to boost agriculture’s contribution to future energy targets.

We now hope that this will be reflected in the final Sustainable Farming Scheme consultation later this year, and does so in such a way that the scheme can provide meaningful support to farmers with investing into renewable energy in future.


Source: Country Times

German architects explore digital build strategies


In Northern Germany, the quaint city of Wismar has seen a new evolution of architectural fabrication with this compact Digital House. The team behind this innovation are architects Julian Krüger from the Munich University of Applied Sciences, and Benjamin Kemper from the Wismar University of Applied Sciences. While the undulating facade of repurposed aluminum wraps a milled timber structure, the cabin exemplifies an approach to digital construction that is both technologically advanced and resource-efficient.


The ‘plug-in’ construction of the digital house

With the Digital House, Julian Krüger and Benjamin Kemper merge contemporary design and digital manufacturing techniques. The architects have crafted a sustainable and cost-effective building model that hinges on inventive plug-in construction methodologies. Situated near the Faculty of Architecture and Design at Wismar University, this humble cabin is wrapped in a fluid silver facade –constructed from repurposed aluminum sheets — and a steep, west-facing mono-pitch roof. The structure reaches a height of 6.5 meters (21 feet) atop a footprint measuring 3.3 by 4.9 meters (11 by 16 feet). The interior is illuminated by a continuous strip of windows and four large openings that cut through the facade.

A unique feature of the Digital House is its wood construction system which Julian Krüger and Benjamin Kemper worked to precision-mill from 24-millimeter-thick plywood. This assembly method negates the need for conventional tools or fasteners, enabling a swift and straightforward assembly process requiring just two individuals. This dynamic system not only upholds principles of sustainability but also allows for future disassembly and repurposing. The wooden framework is enveloped by plywood panels on the interior and a vapor-permeable wood fiberboard on the exterior, insulated with environmentally friendly wood fiber. The Digital House is anchored by six ground screws, allowing for both rapid and traceless disassembly, thereby eliminating the need for concrete or extensive groundwork.


A facade of laser cut aluminum

The Digital House is a harbinger of a new era in architectural planning. The team has diligently optimized the building system to accommodate future parametric design strategies. This intrinsic flexibility allows users to tailor the structure’s form, layout, roofing, openings, and facade according to their specific needs, lending an adaptability that’s advantageous for erecting both stand-alone structures and high-density projects within urban landscapes. The project underscores the symbiotic relationship between digital planning, efficient production, and the application of renewable and recycled materials, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable construction ethos.


Source: Design Boom



Over 250 delegates from across the offsite sector gathered at Croke Park, Dublin for the much-anticipated MMC Ireland National Conference. The inaugural event, hosted in partnership with MMC Ireland and Explore Offsite, was hailed a complete success, with exhibition space and delegate tickets selling out.


Showcasing the best in modern methods of construction from Ireland, the event hosted a packed schedule of talks, presentations and case studies. Chairing the conference was Paul Tierney, interim CEO for MMC Ireland who welcomed guests to the event. Vaughan Buckley, CEO of Volumetric Building Companies, delivered the keynote speech emphasising the global opportunities for growth and development in the MMC sector.


During both the morning and afternoon sessions, panel discussions gave further insight into some of the key event themes and topics. Industry experts came together to talk about the opportunities and challenges facing the industry. Under the banner of ‘Digital Platforms Leading the Way in MMC’ and ‘MMC, A Driver for Increased Output in the Housing Sector’ – the expert panel discussions offered invaluable insights and were well received by delegates.


Following the digital platforms panel, Amy Marks, VP of Enterprise Transformation Practice -Autodesk, gave the afternoon keynote presentation underlining the importance of innovation and digital transformation within the MMC industry.


Alongside the packed speaker schedule, a dedicated exhibition area offered the opportunity to network and discover the latest product innovations. Speakers at the event included representatives from MJH Structural Engineers, Evolusion Innovation, the Steel Construction Institute (SCI), Barratt Developments and the Irish Green Building Council, amongst many others.


MMC Ireland is a leading representative body established to promote and drive the growing MMC sector. Members include construction professionals, manufacturers, consultants and suppliers. The conference was a landmark moment for the group, whose aim is to bring together the combined expertise of all its members to provide guidance, support and drive growth for the industry.


Paul Tierney said:

“MMC Ireland, as an organisation, maybe in its infancy, but the resounding success of the first conference has showcased the deep expertise and technical knowledge that exists across the industry and our members. As we work to champion the benefits of offsite construction, we welcome the robust commitment to increasing the adoption of offsite and other modern methods of construction shown by the sector and government and look forward to working to progress further than ever.”

To learn more about MMC Ireland and the national conference


or to find out about becoming a member, please CLICK HERE



Canadian construction companies are struggling with a lack of skilled labor, with around 90% reporting that it is affecting their ability to bid on projects and meet deadlines. To address this challenge, many believe that incorporating digital technologies and offsite construction can help reshape the industry. By using digital tools, construction companies can save time and money, reduce waste, and improve worker safety and productivity.

Wood prefabrication, which includes mass timber, panels, and volumetric modular construction, is gaining popularity due to its sustainability benefits and ongoing technical and market advancements. Although the Canadian mass timber industry is still developing compared to Europe, there is growing market awareness and acceptance driven by government support, research, and public-sector demand.

However, the transition to new construction methods is hindered by the skilled labor shortage in the construction sector. Despite consumer acceptance and government support, the industry is struggling to quickly adopt new technologies due to a lack of skilled workers.

In conclusion, off-site construction, particularly wood prefabrication, is seen as a potential solution to Canada’s affordable housing shortage and skilled labor challenges. By leveraging digital tools and innovative construction methods, the industry can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and meet the growing demand for housing in the country.

Modular building market leader Portakabin has added three new leaders to its executive team as the company bolsters its dominant position in the offsite industry.

With the recent acquisition of healthcare specialist Darwin Group, Portakabin is making serious inroads in asserting pressure on other players in the modular market. With 283,900m2 of manufacturing space across three sites, and over 80 customer locations across Europe, it remains the largest supplier of modular buildings in the UK alone.

Dan Ibbetson, CEO comments: “There are many elements required to not only make a business successful but to also make it a great place to work; a clearly defined strategy, excellent governance and amazing people certainly helps. Gavin, Simon and Kim are the final pieces in the puzzle for us and I’m incredibly excited to see where they’re going to take us.”

Kim Panton joined in August 2022 as People and Culture Director from Rolls-Royce where she has spent the past 20+ years working with one of the world’s most reputable brands. Her strategic HR skillset has ranged across the group’s business units and brings considerable experience in people and organisational development.

Kim comments: “Portakabin is a fantastic business with brilliant people and represents an exciting new challenge for me. I’m delighted to have joined the team and I’m looking forward to supporting the organisation as it grows and develops.”

Simon Thomson joined in January 2023 as Company Secretary and General Counsel from Aggreko and has quickly become a strategic partner to stakeholders both within the legal function and throughout the wider organisation.

Simon comments: “I’m incredibly proud to be part of this organisation; it has a fantastic heritage, and our people strike the right balance between being commercially minded and customer focused. I’m looking forward to realising the outstanding potential for future growth and success with Portakabin.”

Gavin Urwin joined in March 2023 as Chief Financial Officer from Smart Metering Systems PLC (SMS) and brings considerable experience of working within both PLC and family-owned businesses along with his ability to manage multiple stakeholder groups.

Gavin comments: “There’s never been a better time to join a market leading brand name such as Portakabin. It’s a growing and ambitious business, both in the UK and Europe, has fantastic people working for it and I’m delighted to be part of its future.”



More households are installing heat pumps and solar panels in the UK than ever before, with a 62% jump compared to last year, new data from the official standards body for renewable technologies shows.

MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme, industry standards) data shows that in the first six months of 2023, more than 120,000 certified solar panels, heat pumps and other renewable technologies were installed in UK homes, the highest number ever by this point in the year.

The previous record for renewable installations was more than a decade ago in 2012, when households raced to get solar panels before cuts to the Feed-In Tariff incentive scheme kicked in.

June saw 27,791 certified installations recorded on homes and businesses across the UK, bringing the total for the first half of the year to 122,155. 2023 saw more installations in the month of June and in the first half of the year than any previous year.

2023 is the first year to average more than 20,000 solar panel installations per month, and the first to see more than 3,000 heat pumps installed per month. Analysts say that with this sustained growth, nearly a quarter of a million households could install renewable energy by the end of this year.

Over 80% of the installations so far in 2023 have been electricity-generating technologies, driven mainly by the continued growth in solar PV installations. By the end of June, there were 102,797 certified installations of solar PV alone as more households turn to home-grown energy during the cost-of-living crisis. The first half of 2023 saw 82% more installations than the first half of 2022.

Small-scale renewable energy installations on homes and businesses across the UK now have a total installed capacity of 4GW. The energy demand for the entire country averaged 29.4GW a day in the last year, meaning that the solar panels and wind turbines on peoples’ homes, at peak conditions, could power over 13% of the UK at current.

The growth in solar has been mirrored by battery storage installation growth since MCS introduced the battery storage installation standard at the end of 2021. Each month of 2023 has been a record month for battery technologies, with installation figures surpassing the month before, totalling over 1,000 batteries going into homes and businesses across the UK in 2023 so far.

There has been similar success in the growth of low-carbon heating, with average heat pump installations being over 3,000 per month for the first time in 2023. There were 17,920 heat pump installations in the first six months of 2023, a figure only rivalled by a rush to install heat pumps before the end of the Renewable Heat Incentive subsidy scheme in March 2022.

Heat pump installations in England and Wales have been eligible for £5,000 – £6,000 Government grants since May last year under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. These grants are starting to take effect as heat pump sales are steadily growing. In Scotland, consumers can claim a grant of £7,500-£9,000 towards a heat pump installation plus an additional optional loan of £7,500.

The UK Government has set clear targets to reach 70GW of solar capacity by 2035 and to install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028. The growth in renewable technology across the UK in the last few years is promising, but there is still much further to go.

One of the biggest barriers to overcome will be recruiting enough qualified, skilled installers to meet demand. There are now 1,500 certified heat pump installation companies in the UK, estimates are that 50,000 workers will be needed to meet Government targets of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028. So far in 2023, over 850 new contractors have become MCS certified. That’s more contractors than joined the scheme during the whole of 2022, showing the UK is picking up pace in recruiting installers.

MCS is calling for the Government to expand the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and offer higher grant values and more vouchers per year. Further investment in skills and training is also needed to build up a workforce able to respond to the demand for heat pumps.

MCS is also calling on the Government to mandate solar panels, heat pumps, and battery storage in all new homes from 2025 under the new Future Homes Standard.

MCS CEO Ian Rippin said:

“We are pleased to report that the UK is on track for its strongest year ever for certified small-scale renewable technology installations. The home-grown energy you invest in for your home, or your business plays an ever more crucial role in the decarbonisation of UK buildings.

“As the cost of energy continues to grow, we are seeing more people turn to renewable technology to generate their own energy and heat at home. We need to continue to push this expansion to meet our shared national ambitions to reach net zero by 2050. More consumers have the confidence to invest in small-scale renewables now than ever, but we have to make that transition even easier.

“That is why MCS is currently considering feedback from contractors, consumers, and industry experts on proposals to redevelop and scheme and remove some of the complexity in the sector. We continue to grow year-on-year and it is important that we keep our eye on the future and take time to reassess how we support the industry as that progress continues.”

Speaking on the sustained growth of rooftop solar on UK homes and businesses, Gareth Simkins, Senior Communications Adviser at Solar Energy UK said:

“In the spring, it was looking like we would have something like 215,000 MCS certified solar installations this year. But that was clearly an underestimate – I would bet on around 250,000 now. Installing solar on your roof is one of the best home improvements you can make, and more and more people realise the financial and environmental benefits.”

Discussing the continued success of heat pump deployment across the UK, Bean Beanland, Director of External Affairs at the Heat Pump Federation, said

“Whilst there is much to celebrate, there is a tremendous job of work to do to ensure that heat pump technology becomes mainstream over the remainder of this decade. Enhancing the collaboration with existing and future installers is critical, both to industry success and to the continued development of policy supportive of the electrification of heat and the complete cessation of combustion in due course.

“It is essential that the lowest carbon heat becomes the lowest cost heat so that homeowners and landlords can justify the transition away from polluting fossil fuels. This transition will accelerate as consumers appreciate the advances in protection that the revisions to the MCS scheme are designed to deliver. If this is coupled to a genuine affordability and future funding package, then households will be able to contribute to climate change mitigation with confidence and at a cost that is fair to all.”

Data above shows Scheme performance from January to June 2023. View the near-real-time data on the MCS Data Dashboard


Recent years have ushered in a remarkable shift in the construction industry, driven by the evolution of off-site construction. This innovative approach to building structures marks a paradigm change, involving the creation of individual components in a controlled factory environment before they are transported to the construction site for assembly. The surge in off-site construction presents a host of advantages compared to traditional building methods, including heightened efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and an enhanced focus on sustainability.

The Momentum Behind Off-Site Construction: 

The increasing momentum behind off-site construction originates from its exceptional capacity to streamline the building process. By fabricating components away from the construction site, projects can be completed at a remarkably accelerated pace in comparison to conventional methods. The controlled factory environment ensures superior precision and quality control, leading to a reduction in errors and the need for rework. Moreover, the simultaneous fabrication of components and on-site preparation significantly shortens the overall construction timeline. This accelerated process not only saves time but also minimizes disruptions to the local environment and communities. As a result, off-site construction has gained considerable traction across various sectors, such as residential, commercial, and healthcare, fundamentally reshaping architectural and construction practices.

Defining Off-Site Construction:

Off-site construction, also known as prefabricated or factory-built construction, is a pioneering technique that involves crafting building components away from the construction site, within a controlled factory setting. These components are then transported to the site and meticulously assembled to create a unified structure. The components are designed to fit together seamlessly, ensuring a swift and cohesive assembly process.

A central characteristic of off-site construction lies in the standardization and replication of components. Each component is meticulously crafted following standardized processes, ensuring uniform quality and dimensions. This standardized approach bolsters the efficiency of the manufacturing process, enabling large-scale production of components that can be duplicated across different projects. The components are meticulously designed to adhere to specific dimensions and specifications, enabling adaptability within the broader architectural design.

The Advantages of Off-Site Construction:

Off-site construction offers an array of benefits that make it an enticing option for a multitude of construction projects. Above all, it provides unparalleled cost-effectiveness. By harnessing the efficiency of factory production, off-site construction reduces labor costs and minimizes material wastage. It is an enticing selection for engineering and construction Chicago. The standardized procedures and repetitive nature of component manufacturing allow for economies of scale, translating to reduced overall project costs. This financial advantage makes off-site construction particularly appealing to cost-conscious clients and developers, empowering them to achieve their construction objectives while optimizing their financial resources.

Moreover, off-site construction offers an exceptional level of flexibility and adaptability. The use of standardized components facilitates easy customization and modification, enabling clients to tailor the design and layout of structures to meet specific requirements. Whether for residential, commercial, or industrial projects, off-site construction allows for efficient scalability and future expansion. This adaptability is especially advantageous for engineering firms in Chicago, empowering them to effectively respond to evolving client needs and market dynamics, while maintaining the highest standards of quality and precision.

In summary, the manifold benefits of off-site construction, spanning cost-effectiveness and adaptability, position it as a compelling choice for engineering firms in Chicago and beyond. Its capacity to deliver efficient, sustainable, and tailored architectural solutions establishes off-site construction as a leading force within the construction industry, redefining how projects are envisioned, executed, and brought to fruition.

Prioritizing Sustainability:

In an era where environmental sustainability is of paramount importance, off-site construction emerges as a solution deeply aligned with green building practices. This construction approach boasts an array of sustainable advantages that collectively contribute to reducing the ecological footprint. The controlled factory environment where components are crafted fosters optimized resource management. Through precise material calculations and minimized waste generation, off-site construction conserves valuable resources, including materials, water, and energy.

Furthermore, off-site construction facilitates the integration of sustainable technologies and practices. The standardized design and manufacturing process enable the incorporation of energy-efficient systems, such as renewable energy sources, smart building technologies, and energy-saving insulation. Additionally, the prefabrication of components within a factory setting reduces on-site disruptions and minimizes construction-related pollution, including noise and air pollution. The diminished need for transportation during construction further reduces carbon emissions.

Enhancing Safety and Efficiency Through Off-Site Construction: 

Off-site construction, also known as prefabricated or modular construction, has proven to be an effective means of enhancing safety and efficiency in the building industry. One of the primary advantages of off-site construction is the controlled environment in which components are manufactured. This controlled setting minimizes the risk of accidents and injuries by eliminating common on-site hazards, such as adverse weather conditions and worksite accidents. Workers can operate in a safer environment, adhering to strict safety protocols and standards.

Furthermore, the prefabrication process in off-site construction allows for increased efficiency throughout the entire construction project. The simultaneous manufacturing of components and on-site site preparation significantly reduces the overall construction timeline. The components can be manufactured in parallel with site work, ensuring a streamlined construction schedule. This optimized workflow minimizes downtime and enhances productivity, resulting in quicker project completion. Moreover, the precision and quality control achieved in the factory setting reduce errors and rework, further enhancing efficiency and minimizing delays.

In Conclusion: 

The ascent of off-site construction, underscored by its potential to elevate safety, optimize efficiency, and provide adaptable solutions, positions it as an enticing choice for an array of projects. From residential structures to commercial complexes, engineering firms in Chicago and beyond have embraced the promise encapsulated in off-site construction, harnessing its potential to meet evolving client needs while delivering top-tier, sustainable structures.

As the construction industry continues to embrace innovation, off-site construction stands as a testament to the transformative power of alternative construction methods. Its positive impact on timelines, budgets, and environmental considerations paves the way for an approach to architectural design and construction that is more streamlined, sustainable, and forward-looking.


Source: INSC

Building blocks: SAEKI emerges from stealth with $2.3M funding round for its Robots-as-a-service for manufacturing industry 

Lupfig, Switzerland – 10th August 2023; The architecture, engineering and construction industry has undergone significant changes in recent years yet one major challenge they face is the slow and costly manufacture of large components as part of their installations. Enabling the industry to move faster and efficiently, SAEKI has today launched from stealth with a $2.3M seed funding round to create fully automated plants with industrial robots using 3D technology to create anything from wings for aircraft to construction site installations.


The funding round was led by Wingman Ventures including participation from Vento Ventures, Getty Capital and angel investors. Founded in 2021 by Andrea Perissinotto, Oliver Harley and Matthias Leschok, SAEKI works with the architectural design, engineering design and construction services industry to turn complex designs into reality, save concrete and CO2 having developed a new method to produce custom concrete formwork cost-effectively. They achieve this by combining 3D printing, milling, with large industrial robots that can print formwork up to many metres in length, very efficiently and when it comes to design complexity, the opportunity is unlimited.


Currently, to develop a lightweight carbon fibre element, or to build a topologically optimised concrete floor slab, buyers would have to wait months and spend vast sums of money to receive a first sample and only then build a prototype, let alone consider reiterating for any flaws. With SAEKI this bottleneck is removed, enabling buyers to rapidly innovate, grow their services and offerings in ways they have not been able to before. Indeed, for large scale items, this has not been previously possible.


SAEKI is building the flexible factories of the future leveraging digital manufacturing and robotics,

providing an end-to-end automation solution in 24 hours.



Andrea Perissinotto, Co-Founder of SAEKI, commented:

“From what we build underground, to what we build on earth, to what goes to space, from the construction to aerospace industries, there is a need for large, one-off (custom) components, that are mostly used once a couple of times at most, then scrapped. Manufacturing these parts, from the moulds to make concrete elements to the tooling required to build composite rockets, is labour intensive, has long lead times, and is very expensive. Moreover,  these factors delay hardware iteration to get to the final product.”


“For vast swathes of industry it’s not practical to own and manage robots that can create what you need quickly. We are at the forefront of addressing this and democratising access to the best tools and creating productive, sustainable and effective outcomes for industry. Long lead times for large components will be a thing of the past and we can provide faster and cost effective iterations. Our comprehensive approach sets us apart – it’s not just about being faster or cheaper; it’s about providing a complete solution that caters to the entire spectrum of challenges, which is resonating well with our customers.”


SAEKI is focussed on building a partnership of trust, support, and mutual growth with its customers.  The team currently works hand-in-hand with customers, understanding their unique challenges, and tailoring the microfactories to address their specific needs.  This collaborative approach will help the business unleash its full potential.


SAEKI is building its first production hub, which will be the blueprint for further expansion.

In an industry bottlenecked by manual processes, the company takes on the difficult challenge of solving manufacturing problems, acting as a catalyst and enabler for radical growth and progress across industry.


The production hub will offer industrial robots built by SAEKI. The robots will combine multiple digital manufacturing methods, from 3D printing, milling, inspection to creating an all in one low waste production process and recyclable materials. The robots will act as microfactories; self-contained units able to do all the manufacturing steps, easily deployable for localised manufacturing. Additionally, SAEKI will offer a quoting platform tailored to the customers’ own business needs to remove the complex opaque approach currently in the market.


Edouard Treccani, Principal at Wingman Ventures commented: “We’re thrilled to join forces with SAEKI as lead investor of their pre-seed round. Their groundbreaking approach to distributed additive manufacturing has the power to revolutionize sectors from aerospace to construction through disruptive tech, local production and sustainable materials. We look forward to supporting them as they embark on their mission to create yet another deep-tech champion from Switzerland.”


SAEKI is building a platform that will allow our customers to transcend the limits of traditional manufacturing, where size, complexity, and efficiency are no longer obstacles but catalysts for progress. In doing so, SAEKI envisions a network of decentralised, robot operated production hubs around the world.


Matthias Leschok, Co-Founder at SAEKI added: “In 10 years from now SAEKI envisions lights-out factories filled with SAEKI microfactories autonomously producing complex, material and weight saving formwork for the construction industry, fixtures and tooling for super-sonic jets or composite moulds for the next generation formula one cars. SAEKI’s mission is to empower design freedom to be efficient and sustainable – irrespective of the final product.”