Construction journalist and civil engineer, Bruce Meechan gives his perspective on the challenges, and opportunities, presented by the pandemic disruption.

 

Many commentators as well as Government Ministers are using the phrase ‘new normal’ in reference to the way we will have to live, work and shop for years to come because of the continuing threat posed by Covid-19: the most globally lethal pandemic since the Spanish Flu claimed millions of lives in the aftermath of World War One.

For those of us who have spent our careers in construction, however, there is a justifiable sense of déjà vu regards the impacts of the virus. Yet again our industry has been at the economic epicentre of a recession that has shut sites, closed companies and cost countless workers their jobs.

While many UK businesses simply told their staff to stay away from the office, for tradespeople who spend their days wearing hard hats and steel toecaps, working from home simply wasn’t an option – you just can’t lay bricks on Zoom. Meanwhile those whose building projects were sanctioned as essential, ran the risk of catching the virus by simply travelling to work – a danger made worse in the capital where the posturing mayor chose to cram people into fewer Tube trains.

Now though, with the infection rate apparently receding, and the longest days of summer upon us, building sites and businesses generally are reopening. What then are the prospects for those of us whose livelihoods are dependent on new build developments, RMI work and infrastructure schemes?

As I count this as my fourth recession since I left polytechnic in 1979 and began work with George Wimpey, I believe there are a number of reasons for optimism.

Firstly, it should be noted that the economy was actually in pretty good shape as we began the year, with record numbers of people in employment, the stock market surging and most businesses in a bullish mood. Even die-hard Remainers and lifelong Labour voters must have felt relief at ending three years of parliamentary deadlock.

For everyone apart from a few Chinese scientists and communist party officials, the Coronavirus came completely out of the blue. Even in February as reports were leaking out from this secretive society, and the early cases were occurring in the West, the idea of a pandemic bringing everything to a halt seemed implausible.

Then the pubs shut and the rookie Chancellor had to conjure up an unprecedented rescue package for the economy. And as we peeped out at empty streets, or cursed empty supermarket shelves, the equally green new Bank of England Governor blithely predicted a V-shaped recovery.

According to economists now, we’re looking at a U-profile and, bizarrely, the Footsie has seen its best three-month rise for a decade, with some ‘green shoots’ emerging globally. In the US – where Covid-19 devastated many states – unemployment peaked well short of the worst predictions, while the IMF fancies China will bounce by 8% next year.

From a personal perspective I can report that not only did hardware stores stay open to service the lockdown lust for DIY, but a lot of independent merchants and small builders barely paused their activities.

Undoubtedly the building industry benefits from a can-do attitude, which shames our teaching unions and professions such as dentistry (for whom infection control should be a given at all times), who have sat back complaining about lack of clarity from Ministers.

By contrast, most of our major housebuilders had begun recalling middle management and site safety officers in May or earlier, to devise strategies for safe working. And while the clothes retailers were agonising over the viability of quarantining any clothes customers might try on, Taylor Wimpey was announcing a £500 million land purchasing spree, and committing to pay back the taxpayer money it had received under the furlough scheme. TW boss, Pete Redfern said: “We have seen robust demand throughout the lockdown and have been encouraged by the continued resilience of the housing market.” Redrow is another top housebuilder pledging to hand back billions.

I was further impressed to hear from Chris Hamlett, the MD of northwest based main contractor, Armstrong Projects, who told me his company had only furloughed one worker: an individual with a long term respiratory condition. Other staff had been retrained to work under the safe distancing guidelines and related restrictions, as well as to cover special inspection disciplines temporarily not available via normal channels.

Not only had Armstrong Projects’ three main sites in Manchester, Warrington and Crewe all continued, but the group has recruited two new employees to help launch a venture called Pod Life; building home offices for customers through the adoption of an ICF system.

The latter is of particular significance, because offsite technologies would seem ideally suited to addressing many of the obstacles which Covid-19 requirements pose for traditional building techniques.

We have known since the Eden Report shone a light on our industry’s failings two decades ago that system building increases productivity, predictability and quality of outcome, while reducing defects and injuries to personnel. Now there is the added bonus that transferring operations offsite and into a controlled factory environment should mitigate the chances of transmitting the virus.

The Prime Minister’s speech at a West Midlands plant this week not only pledged £5 billion to build new schools, hospitals, housing and infrastructure, but to build “Better, greener and faster,” with a revolution in UK technology to the fore. Modern and mainly offsite methods of construction must be the best way to deliver on those promises.

Finally, let us remember how this crisis came about, and where it came from.

The Government is rightly backtracking on involving Huawei in our 5G network – which posed a real threat to national security and access to Five Eyes intelligence sharing – and is also reviewing China’s role in our nuclear energy programme. A direct, multi-billion pound beneficiary of the latter should be the consortium involving Rolls Royce and major construction companies, seeking to deliver modular nuclear reactors for sites around the country, and even for export.

One thing the pandemic and the connected PPE shortages has demonstrated is the imperative for our country to be self-sufficient in essentials; including low carbon energy. I would argue, therefore, that our corporations and our communities should look to UK manufacturers as well as our own construction companies to deliver the properties and infrastructure we need for everyday life to continue: whatever that new normal looks like.

JCB has developed what it claims is the construction industry’s first ever hydrogen powered excavator.

The 20 tonne 220X excavator powered by a hydrogen fuel cell has been undergoing rigorous testing at JCB’s quarry proving grounds for more than 12 months. JCB is the first construction equipment company to unveil a working prototype of an excavator powered by hydrogen.

JCB Chairman Lord Bamford said, “The development of the first hydrogen fuelled excavator is very exciting as we strive towards a zero carbon world.

“In the coming months, JCB will continue to develop and refine this technology with advanced testing of our prototype machine and we will continue to be at the forefront of technologies designed to build a zero carbon future.”

Power for JCB’s prototype excavator is generated by reacting hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell to create the energy needed to run electric motors. The only emission from the exhaust is water.

The UK-based OEM announced last year that is had gone into full production with the fully electric mini excavator, the 19C-1E. JCB has also extended electric technology to its Teletruk telescopic forklift range with the launch of an electric model, the JCB 30-19E.

As well as working on hydrogen and electric powered equipment JCB says that it has almost eradicated the most harmful emissions from its latest range of diesel engines. According to the company, Nitrous Oxide (NOx) is down 97%, soot particulates down by 98% and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions down by almost half.

 

Source: International Construction

AI has transformed our lives in a plethora of ways. Starting from advanced robots to simple household devices, it is hard to name an industry that does not involve the applications of AI. Most noticeably, AI has made a significant impact on the construction industry. AI-enabled construction robots are helping the construction industry realize its true potential by simplifying the laborious tasks and executing them with precision.

The construction industry primarily relied on manual-intensive labor with little to no automation. The main hindrance in using robots was the unpredictable landscape of the construction site. While robots can excel at repetitive tasks, a construction site requires adaptability and flexibility. However, the recent advancements in AI have empowered construction robots to analyze complex tasks and improvise based on what the situation demands. Construction robots are increasingly being used in building residential homes as well as commercial buildings. In this analysis by vHomeInsurance, we explore the impact of robots on the construction industry and the future for construction robots.

Construction robots are designed in such a way that they can be easily transported to the construction site. The main advantage of using construction robots is to save time, increase precision and efficiency, thereby leading to greater economic benefits. For instance, Hadrian X is a bricklaying automated machine capable of building walls of a house by calculating the necessary materials and movements without any supervision. It was developed by an Australian based firm by incorporating an intelligent control system. The robot can lay bricks at a speed of 1,000 per hour with 100% accuracy. It can also detect changes caused due to external factors such as wind and vibrations and create the design accordingly. It has been estimated that the bot takes 2 days to complete work that could otherwise take around 4-6 weeks when done manually.

Another hindrance to the progress of construction is linked to safety concerns and accidents occurring due to human error. Statistics reveal that 21% of work deaths in the U.S are linked to the construction industry. Many companies have been actively involved in developing robots that could increase the safety of humans. Most noticeably, Volvo has designed an autonomous self-driving load carrier, HX2, that can carry supplies and materials to the construction site without human intervention. It can also move heavy loads with relative ease. The autonomous carrier detects obstacles and humans with the help of the “vision system,” developed by Volvo. This could replace humans working in construction sites, thereby reducing the risk of fatalities.

The International Federation of Robotics and the Robotics Industries Association had predicted that the construction robotics industry would witness a CAGR of 8.7% from 2018 to 2022. The global market research company International Data Corporation went a step further and estimated a CAGR of 20.2% for the same period. While the numbers are not staggering, this is considered to be promising, given that the construction industry is one of the least automated industries. With the growing demand for residential and commercial buildings and the advancements in AI, it is safe to say that AI-powered construction robots will play a vital role in revamping the construction industry.

Source: Robotics Tomorrow

 

 

Another modular housing provider has signed up for what might have been a 359,000 sq ft logistics facility, as housebuilders succumb to government pressure to move to modular construction.

Mountpark Logistics, the industrial and logistics developer, has let a 359,305 sq ft purpose-built manufacturing facility to Countryside Properties at its Mountpark Bardon II scheme close to Junction 22 of the M1 motorway in the East Midlands.

Countryside plans to use the building to make its advanced modular panel system that will deliver around 3,250 new homes a year for the company’s three Midlands regions when the factory is fully operational. This is more than half the total number of modular homes Countryside is aiming to produce.

Modular housing providers need the large floorplates, high eves hights and good locations also demanded by the logistics sector.

Modular housing at scale is being pioneered by investors like Legal & General, who signed up for a 550,000 sq ft warehouse in Selby, Yorkshire, in 2017. The warehouse is now a modular housing facility.

The new Countryside facility will be the second building at Mountpark Bardon II, where the company recently completed a 579,160 sq ft national distribution centre for VF Corporation.  Mountpark has already delivered 1.4 million sq ft at the first phase of its Bardon development with lettings to Amazon, Eddie Stobart and Pharmacy2U.

 

Source: SHD Logistics

 

 

TLT Solicitors have advised social housing provider Stonewater on a multi-million pound deal with modular housing firm ilke Homes to deliver 120 new affordable homes in Herefordshire.

The partnership, worth £23m, will see ilke Homes provide Stonewater with land for the development, as well as manufacturing the homes in its factory in Knaresborough.

This is the first modular project that Stonewater has embarked on. TLT negotiated the land purchase and the development agreement for Stonewater, including bespoke contract clauses, against a short deadline. The team was led by legal director Sarah Hale alongside associate Andrew Russell.

Matthew Crucefix, director of development (West) at Stonewater, said: “Scaling-up the delivery of affordable homes is vital to ensuring that everyone in the UK has a place to call home.

“As a valued member of our legal services framework it’s really good for us to be able to share exciting new opportunities with firms like TLT.”

 

Sarah Hale, legal director at TLT, says:

“Modular construction has a critical role to play in addressing the housing crisis in the UK and meeting housebuilding targets, particularly because of the speed at which large numbers of attractive and eco-friendly homes can be delivered cost-effectively.

“It was a privilege to be involved in such a landmark scheme for Stonewater, and I hope we can continue to support social landlords with affordable modular housing in the coming year.”

 

 

 

 

Source: Business Leader

 

 

A Newry bathroom manufacturer has won a £3m contract with a London developer.

Connex Offsite, which specialises in high-end modular bathroom pods, said it will supply luxury modular bathroom pods to London property developer Mount Anvil for the firm’s Royal Eden Docks development in the east of the city.

The contract comes as Connex ramps up its promotion throughout the UK to target new business.

In the next two months, the firm will recruit staff for roles including joiners, operations managers, designers, general labourers and tilers, to meet their rapidly growing order book.

Brendan Doherty, managing director of Connex Offsite, said: “We have seen huge growth in recent months and I believe the Covid-19 crisis has been the catalyst for a shift to modular construction. Off-site manufacturing is being embraced by the industry because of the restrictions on the level of labour on site.

“Because our pods are completely finished in a controlled environment, shrink-wrapped on the factory floor and shipped to the construction site, we are reducing the numbers of trades required on site.

“We are delighted to be working with Mount Anvil, one of the leading property developers in London, with 30 years of construction history in the city under their belts.

“Mount Anvil recognised the high quality of our pods and standard of service from recent major projects we have delivered in central London and decided our product was a perfect fit.”

Connex moves into a new £2.5m facility in August.

 

Source: Belfast Telegraph

At the peak of the Alberta’s oil boom in the early 2010s, Horizon North Logistics Inc. couldn’t turn out work trailers and lodges quickly enough. Its manufacturing facilities were kept humming, putting together thousands of camp rooms destined for the Fort McMurray area or other remote project hubs.

But as crude prices plunged at the end of 2014 and the flow of workers heading north dried up, the company was forced to adapt. Taking stock of its capabilities, it shifted some of its focus from temporary workforce accommodations to permanent buildings.

“We changed out the nature of our quality, our cost structure, our software, architectural designs, the quality of the sales strategy we had, the balance sheets — and effectively converted what I’d characterize as a trailer manufacturing plant into a de facto auto plant,” says Rod Graham, Horizon North’s president and CEO.

Bringing experts from major carmakers aboard to optimize floor space and fine-tune quality, the company established the foundation for its modular construction business. Despite its track record with trailers and lodges, the transition wasn’t easy.

“Just because you can build a camp or an office trailer, doesn’t mean that you can actually build some space that’s got a commercial application,” Graham says.

“If you think about camps, effectively all the time is spent on the inside of the envelope. So, really, it was about having folks feel really good about the bedroom they were in, or feel really good about the kitchen they were getting food from, but really no thought to the exterior aesthetics of what the building looks like.”

That interior-only dynamic has changed dramatically as the company has pushed into the nascent markets for multi-unit modular builds. Today, Horizon North operates plants in Kamloops, B.C., Calgary and Grimsby, Ont., and is seeing increased demand for student, senior and affordable housing.

The Calgary-based company’s journey from work camps to modular isn’t exactly typical for the building industry, but it reflects the widespread momentum for off-site construction. Many traditional on-site contractors are also embracing the controlled environments and lucrative timeline savings offered by modular plants.

According to research conducted by On-Site last month, more than half of the largest builders in the country are either considering or already moving into off-site construction.

Just over 13 per cent of the more than 100 large Canadian contractors surveyed aim to move as much work off-site as possible in the coming years. One-fifth are shifting to modular, but only for certain aspects of projects, and another 20 per cent are considering it, but awaiting for analysis into the pros and cons. About 40 per cent, on the other hand, see modular as unrealistic for their scope of work. 

 

The A-Linx system is designed to provide a building’s entire superstructure, simplifying the building process. PHOTO: A-Linx

The A-Linx system is designed to provide a building’s entire superstructure, simplifying the building process. PHOTO: A-Linx

Amico Infrastructures Inc. is one of the traditional contractors expanding into the modular space. Through its A-Linx Building Technologies subsidiary, the company opened a manufacturing facility adjacent to its headquarters outside Windsor, Ont. four years ago. It’s since put up a handful of multi-unit residential projects, primarily seniors’ homes, across southwestern Ontario.

“The future is bright, obviously, with this construction because not only does it save time, it saves money overall when it comes to speed of construction.” says Dave Hunter, the senior manager of business development with A-Linx.

Like Horizon North, the company has looked to the auto industry as the basis for its manufacturing. Before landing at A-Linx, Matt Pellitteri, the company’s plant manager, took on a range of roles at the Windsor Chrysler plant, which builds the Pacifica minivan. With a background in lean manufacturing, Pellitteri applies this low-waste, high-optimization approach to building the company’s load-bearing wall systems.

The light-gauge steel panels are manufactured similarly to how you’d build an engine at a sub-assembly plant, he says.

“All these parts are introduced into a framing table,” Pellitteri says. “Inversely, if you were in the field and you were doing it with wood, you would have a guy with a saw, he’d be cutting it piece by piece and he’d be building it up while all our pieces are sub-assembled and introduced into a panel.”

One of the main draws of the A-Linx system is its ability to provide the entire superstructure.

“We can go in there and we can go from footings to roof and not many other outfits are providing that right now,” Pellitteri says. “That’s what people are gravitating toward. One trade, one quote, you’re getting your flooring system, your load-bearing interior and exterior walls, shafts and we coordinate the structure steel as well.”

With its manufacturing base in Oldcastle, Ont., the company is targeting the Ontario market, and looking to jump the river into Michigan and other nearby states. As in other industries, ground transportation for modular construction can become cost inhibitive as you ship farther afield.

With this in mind, Bird Construction Inc. is taking a different approach. In 2017 it acquired a 50 per cent stake in Stack Modular Structures Ltd., which manufactures its turnkey structural steel building modules in China and then ships them across the Pacific.

Andy Berube, vice-president of sales and marketing at Stack Modular, said its plant in Shanghai lets it leverage the global supply chain while keeping transportation costs consistent for cities across the west coast of North America — from San Diego to Anchorage.

Like other modular companies, Berube says the market has been growing rapidly as architects, developers and contractors become more receptive to off-site construction.

“I would say, over the last two years, maybe a little bit more, the interest has been escalating ten-fold,” he says, pointing to affordable housing projects in Vancouver and other areas on the Pacific coast as particularly promising.

Given Bird Construction’s stake in the company, Stack Modular can take care of on-site installation in-house, but will also partner with other contractors on stacking the modules and finalizing the projects by connecting the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

It’s a similar situation at Horizon North, which typically executes design-builds — taking projects from design, through estimating, engineering, manufacturing, transportation and installation.

According to Joe Kiss, Horizon North’s president of Modular Solutions, the company’s niche is primarily multi-storey projects, with a focus on hotels, student, senior and affordable housing. But its products run the gamut.

“We do everything from a small parking kiosk where you would pay for your parking as you exited the parkade, to a lot of specialty applications like convenience stores, for instance, Petro Canadas and A&Ws,” he says.

Component work is also common for modular builders.

PCL Construction, for instance, has begun manufacturing wall panels, washroom pods and several other products at off-site facilities. The components are shipped to job sites to complement and speed up the conventional construction process.

In the case of a washroom pod, concrete crews on-site leave a depression for the module as they pour the slab, while pre-fab teams at the modular plant assemble the washroom. Schedules are aligned so the finished pod arrives at the job site in time to be integrated. The method allows contractors to slim down on the number of workers needed on-site and build in a controlled environment.

“As we’ve had more cases come together, more projects built with this model, across North America, across the globe, people are really jumping on that,” says Troy Galvin, manager of PCL’s Agile plant in the Toronto suburbs.

While the shift to modular and prefabrication has been underway for several years, the COVID-19 crisis looks likely to accelerate the trend.

Prior to the pandemic, Galvin was anticipating blistering growth in off-site construction of around 300 per cent over the next three years. Now, he says the emphasis on speed and the need to limit the size of on-site crews will push the modular market to as much as five-times its current size.

The shop floor at a PCL modular facility. The company produces a range of building components and complete structures at its off-site operations. PHOTO: PCL

 

“A lot of this is about speed to market and through the pandemic, he says. “It’s really highlighted [the mentality that], ‘Hey we need infrastructure fast, we need it now, what do you have existing in your fleet or how quickly can you build us something?’”

At the same time, modular plants with fixed washrooms and no weather are more conducive to some of the health regulations builders have adopted to stop the spread of the virus than many job sites, Galvin says.

Similarly, Kiss says many of the problems the COVID crisis has created fall “into the wheelhouse” of off-site construction.

“Modular is definitely a pretty good tool in the toolbox in terms of responding to the crisis both in the near-term, medium-term and long-term,” he says.

But it’s not the only catalyst, he adds.

“There’s other trends beyond COVID that are doing that,” he says. “Just the very nature of having to build buildings more efficiently and more cost effectively, and quicker and with more cost predictability and cost certainty. Those are driving factors as well.”

 

Source: Offsite

 

 

Just over a month before much of the world went into lockdown, at the 50th World Economic Forum in Davos, session after session was devoted to tackling the climate crisis.

It’s no wonder. This century has seen 19 of the hottest years ever recorded. In the past year, wildfires ravaged Australia and Brazil, while Arctic sea ice levels reached a record low. Failure to tackle climate change will do untold damage to our societies, economies and ecosystems.

But efforts to avert this catastrophe are under way. Electric cars, renewable energy and industrial-scale recycling are now common as the world adapts in the hope of creating a net-zero economy, which the UK government is legally bound to achieve by 2050.

Investment in environmental, social and governance funds has mirrored this trend, rising nearly two thirds last year in Europe to €668bn (£598bn) worth of assets.

For real estate investors, being ‘greener’ requires a complete change in attitude and willingness to accept innovation. Construction has lagged behind the automobile and energy industries in this respect. We are mostly still building houses as we did 30 to 40 years ago, with huge energy inefficiencies and ballooning carbon emissions. The built environment contributes around 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint, according to the UK Green Building Council.

But we can’t just stop building to lower emissions, especially considering the fact we’re in the midst of a housing crisis. According to Savills, annual housing delivery in the UK needs to increase by 24% a year to meet government targets.

Last year, we received a £30m investment from Homes England to boost our factory’s production capacity. This May, it commissioned a study to test the performance of factory-built housing and provide verifiable data so that informed decisions can be made about emerging construction technologies.

With the government championing modern methods of construction, more investors are likely to follow suit.

Off the production line

Offsite manufacturing, where homes are built along a production line in a factory, can create huge carbon savings in both embodied carbon emissions and operational carbon, which is the energy used once built. This is vital for investors looking to future-proof assets against tightening energy-efficiency regulations. As part of the Future Homes Standard, which is not expected to be fully consulted on until 2024, the government has outlined plans to reduce carbon emissions from homes by almost a third.

For offsite manufacturers like us, energy efficiency is at the heart of what we do. Precision-engineering techniques and state-of-the-art technology allow homes to be built to be at least a third more energy-efficient than traditionally built homes.

We can deliver zero-carbon homes with an Energy Performance Certificate rating of A, putting them in the top 0.1% of British homes for energy efficiency. To reach net-zero energy targets, these homes must become the norm, not the exception.

Digital technology such as building information modelling (BIM) allows us to generate precise estimates of materials needed for each home, so we can reduce waste and so that 97% of what is produced can be recycled.

The race is on to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, but for UK plc to meet it – and we can – innovative methods of housebuilding must sit at the heart of investors’ plans. Now is the time to be stepping up efforts to collect data-led evidence that demonstrates to investors the huge benefits derived from building homes in factories.

 

 

 

 

 

Dave Sheridan is executive chairman of ilke Homes

 

 

 

Source: Property Week

 

To explore the possibilities of mud architecture, Rael San Fratello has created 3D-printed prototypes that take cues from historical earthen construction built along the Rio Grande river.

Led by architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, Rael San Fratello created four mud structures as part of its Emerging Objects investigative series into 3D printing.

The project called Mud Frontiers resulted in 3D-printed designs – Hearth, Beacon, Lookout and Kiln – that the studio believes could help to provide solutions for more affordable construction.

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The structures take cues from the origins of the Rio Grande watershed in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, formerly the edge of the US-Mexico before 1848. Here, traditions from Ancestral Pueblo cultures date back to 700 CE and the Indo-Hispano cultures of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado date back to 1598.

The Emerging Objects team began by researching processes typical to the area, such as hand-modelled earthen structures, and mud and pottery that harvest clay from Sangre de Christo and San Juan mountains. They then worked with 3D ceramic print company 3D Potter to make a small portable robot called Potterbot XLS-1 to print designs on the sites they sourced soils.

“What we learned was really how accessible, robust, and powerful it was to print large scale structures so quickly using the soil just beneath our feet” Rael told Dezeen.

“We discovered work flows for printing, material mixture processes, structural applications, and theories about new and old ways of living and designing for the future using humankind’s most humble material.”

Hearth comprises a thin mud-wall reinforced with rot-resistant juniper wood.

The sticks are used to join two walls together and protrude on the outside of the structure but are hidden inside – a relationship the architect likens to the “cultural differences between the architectural traditions of pueblo and Indo-Hispano buildings”. A curling mud bench wraps the inside of the tiny enclosure to meet a fireplace in the middle where juniper wood is burned.

Beacon was created to find a way to use a coiling mudwork to make the wall as thin as possible. Lights illuminate the indentations along wall at night time to give the structure its name.

Lookout, meanwhile, uses coils to create a staircase. “A dense network of undulating mud coils is laid out to create a structure that can be walked upon,” Rael added. The design also lays mud piping inside the walls into cross-shapes that can be used to create pockets of air that bolster the insulative properties of the designs.

“This also demonstrates how wide, yet, airy walls, can create interior enclosures that represent possibilities for insulation, especially in the harsh climate of the San Luis Valley that can drop below -20 degrees fahrenheit in the winter,” Rael said.

Kiln forms a culmination of a number of findings, including the coiling and criss-crossing mudwork, and adds a kiln for firing the 3D-printed vessels. The locally sourced juniper wood is are fired with juniper wood that give it a range of textures and hues.

“The products of the kiln, fired micaceous clay learning from the traditions of Taos and Picuris Pueblos, are hybrids of technology and technique,” said Rael.

“Emerging Objects explores these frontiers of technology and material using traditional materials (clay, water, and wheat straw), to push the boundaries of sustainable and ecological construction in a two phase project that explores traditional clay craft at the scale of architecture and pottery,” Rael said.

“The end goal of this endeavour is to demonstrate low-cost and low-labour construction that is accessible, economical and safe is possible.”

A particular highlight of the history is coil pottery, which uses layers of clay ribbons to form pieces.

Playing with this technique, the team made 170 vessels featuring varying bulges and markings – using the Potterbot to print the vessels with a ceramic 3D-printing software. It then developed the process to create a larger, 3D-printed adobe construction resembling series of bulging, rope-like threads from local clay.

“Excavated pit houses and above ground adobe structures defined the architecture of the Mogollon and by AD 400 this region witnessed the development of a distinctive, indigenous coil-and-scrape pottery tradition known as EI Paso Brownware,” said Rael.

Mud Frontiers by Emerging Objects was initiated in response to an article in the Smithsonian magazine called “40 Things You Need to Know About the Next 40 Years”. Number one in the list stated that “Sophisticated buildings will be made of mud”.

As part of the project, Rael San Fratello were testing a portable robot that they had created,

It was used to print the mud walls in varying patterns that related to traditional techniques

 

Other projects that have similarly experimented with mud construction include a biodegradable house created by 3D-printing technology developer WASP from soil and agricultural waste. French architect Stephanie Chaltiel, meanwhile, developed a prototype for emergency homes that is formed from a domed lattice sprayed with a mixture of clay and fibre using a drone.

Rael, an architecture professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and San Fratello, who is also an associate professor of design at San José State University,  established Rael San Fratello as an architectural research studio.

The studio gained international media attention earlier this year when it installed three pink seesaws in between the metal slats of the US-Mexico border wall, so that children on either side can play together.

Photography is by Rael San Fratello.

 

The worldwide 3D Printing Materials Market is expected to reach $4.03 billion by 2025,

at a CAGR of 20.7% during the forecast period of 2019 to 2025.

3D printing is one of the fastest growing technologies and is being rapidly adopted for manufacturing and other applications by various industries. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures organization, five important industries that have the greatest potential to be transformed by 3D printing in the next 5 to 10 years from 2017 include Heavy Industry, Automotive, Consumer Products, Healthcare and Medical, and Aerospace.

3D printing technology has been evolving faster than other manufacturing technologies as it can influence manufacturing processes and help businesses perform to a higher level. Further, 3D printing manufacturing line is easier to alter than the production line for traditional manufacturing. This makes it preferable for the bulk equipment manufacturing processes. Due to this advantage, industries such as aerospace, construction, and automotive have started adopting this technology aggressively.

The key players operating in the global 3D printing materials market are Stratasys, Ltd. (Israel), Proto Labs, Inc. (U.S), 3D Systems, Inc. (U.S), Materialise NV (Belgium), The ExOne Company (U.S), The Hewlett Packard Company (U.S), EnvisionTEC Inc., (U.S), Evonik Industries AG (Germany), EOS GmbH (Germany), Zortrax (Poland), Markforged Inc., (U.S), Sculpteo- a BASF Company (France), Tethon 3D (U.S), and Arkema S.A. (France) among others.

Sources: Dezeen  –  Meticulous Research

Off-site eco developer Project Etopia recently announced the acquisition of self-build specialist Tribus Homes.

Last year, the two firms formed a partnership under the ‘E-Tribus’ banner, but Project Etopia has now bought the company, including its manufacturing facility in Devon.

Tribus Homes was created to help people build their dream homes. To start with, the firm employed timber frames, but later progressed to using the same Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) used by Project Etopia.

These can be fitted with Project Etopia’s smart home technology — including lighting and ventilation — as well as Etopia’s Energy+ configuration, which generates and stores electricity.

Located just outside Tiverton in Devon, the Tribus manufacturing facility is capable of producing 200 homes a year. Etopia plans to use this factory to showcase the kind of micro manufacturing facility that can be set up around the country to support councils in their house-building ambitions using off-site technology.

These factories, set to be smaller than Etopia’s 2,000-a-year capacity unit in Ellesmere Port, can be set up in six to nine months.

In recent years, self-builds have become more popular as house prices have continued to soar and people have struggled to find the homes they want in the right areas.

Lee McArdle, who co-founded Tribus Homes, will remain its managing director, and a rebranding process will begin this year.

Joseph Daniels, chief executive of Project Etopia, said: “We are delighted to formally bring Tribus Homes under the Etopia banner. This acquisition means we can use Tribus Homes’ manufacturing facility in Devon to produce up to 200 new homes a year in the South West without needing to transport goods around the country, making developments much more sustainable.”

He added: “The factory is a prime example of how a number of satellite, small-scale facilities can be positioned around the country to create local jobs and deliver homes. Tribus will continue to provide people with their dream self-build homes, all of which will feature the smart home and energy technology incorporated in all Etopia projects.”

 

 

Source: Property Investor

 

https://www.propertyinvestortoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2020/6/covid-19-impact–will-modular-housing-and-self-build-homes-thrive-post-pandemic?source=newsticker