Modern methods for modern developers:


In recent times two major themes have emerged for developers to satisfy the urgent demand for homes and how best to make those homes “smarter” and therefore more environmentally friendly and saleable to discerning homebuyers.

The first point is to speed up the process of construction given the skill sets which are available (not to mention the British weather), the second to meet the environmental and technical demands of a more IT enlightened public.

Modular Homes:

Modular construction systems are probably the only way by which the UK can achieve the necessary build program to meet demand, quality, consistency and speed of construction, with all utilities being ready to literally “plug in”.

Given these requirements, traditional underground water control systems simply just do not fit the bill, either for accessibility or as a home for a meter.

The only realistic method of achieving this simple concept is to connect to externally mounted, pre-installed water service controls.

Our Groundbreaker water management system is the only such system available – designed to be installed at any time during the construction period, is fully (Water Regulations) approved and offers an accessible, safe and secure location for the water meter and controls to a specific property.


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Because of its compact design, Groundbreaker can facilitate the early and secure connection of water services to a plot or unit, for both accessibility and water quality at a time to suit the developer’s program of events on site.

Groundbreaker was chosen by “Urban Splash” for its prestigious development at Irwell Riverside, Salford, as the most efficient method of achieving all the objectives, the scheme being “approved” by United Utilities who also saw the advantages of early connections to the water supplies.

By use of Groundbreaker, Urban Splash has been able to avoid the “clutter” of street furniture, allowing clean lines for the design of the project as will be seen from the images.

Smarter water management:

Smart meters have been around for a while now, but every smart meter so far has had to be installed above ground as traditional underground water control boxes are apt to get waterlogged and are exceedingly poor in being able to transmit a signal to even a local pick up.

Besides facilitating water connections to meet rapid build programs, Groundbreaker also offers by far the best location for a water meter. Transmissions from a smart meter above ground – the location of the Groundbreaker unit – have proven to be at least 1 000x better than in the traditional locations.

We believe it is essential for the homeowner to manage his or her utilities and impact on the environment probably via a home hub with link to the ubiquitous “App” on a mobile phone or home computer.

Recently, Groundbreaker was chosen for the first pilot of a 5G transmitter associated with a smart water meter, no other product could have provided such a platform so successfully, leaving the way open for further “smart systems” to follow.

Groundbreaker is compliant with all relevant legislation as well as meeting the best practice recommendations of Water UK and the Home Builders Federation and can be used on more traditional building systems and refurbishment schemes.

For further information on Groundbreaker and associated products, please email , call on

As the saying goes ‘what a difference a year makes’, and nowhere could that be more relevant than here at Frameclad. It’s been a very busy year since Offsite 2018 with new machinery, new premises and staff all arriving to make Frameclad a leading supply partner in the off-site industry.


Frameclad design, manufacture and supply steel frame components, frames and structures for the construction industry. Operating from one end of the market where clients require stock lengths and components right the way up to the multi storey, pre-designed, fully engineered and assembled panel market. Pre-fabricated panels can also be pre-boarded with an external sheathing board etc. prior to despatch to site.

Sections are rolled from galvanised coil into the required profiles that are then either delivered to site in their plain component state or during the rolling process undergo further engineering processes with dimples, fixing holes, service holes etc incorporated to form framed panel systems. All of these options can be viewed at our website – .


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From humble beginnings, successfully trading materials as a specialised merchant, Mark Munns (founder) has grown the business through various phases of development always adding to the management team strategically to ensure Frameclad is well placed to continue to provide excellent products and services through a time of growth. After initial forays into the world of production involved manufacturing component materials, the company soon moved into making complex flat pack frame products. Evolving to a point now where state of the art equipment, new production premises and a highly trained and motivated staff produce fully formed, assembled and boarded panels and in some cases insulated products are incorporated. These products and systems are offering a real alternative to traditional methods of construction and provide amazing benefits in cost, time and accuracy. Frameclad have emerged as a leader in quality and service to the construction industry. Honest and secure advice provided from a platform of experience backed by a collaborative approach at all stages of the design, manufacture and installation process make Frameclad the obvious choice as a partner.

Frameclad clients enjoy a unique experience of being engaged at all points through the process from ideas and design through to sign off of design, manufacture and delivery.

Following on from the sustained growth in 2018/19, which saw an additional 24k square foot factory and 2 new state of the art roll-forming machines arriving, 2019/2020 is continuing the trend with further machinery arriving and a further 22k square foot of space acquired which will be on line by the end of November 2019.

Moving forward, Frameclad will continue to invest and strive to be the best option for quality, professional services and products within the steel frame market. Always looking for betterment and differentiation Frameclad are always looking for partners who share common goals and aspirations.

If you have a project that you feel may benefit from the involvement of the Frameclad team please visit them at the show or alternatively they would be delighted to hear from you either by email or telephone –

01384 401114.

Etex Building Performance is supporting the construction industry’s push for more efficient, performance-led ways of building with the launch of ThrubuildTM – a new load-bearing system from its EOS brand.


ThrubuildTM brings together elements from the company’s three lightweight construction brands, streamlining the procurement process for projects. It combines a load-bearing, light-gauge steel frame from EOS and external Weather Defence sheathing board and internal Frameboard from Siniat, while drawing on Promat’s expertise in passive fire protection.

EOS’s light steel framing features cold-rolled galvanised light steel sections in a range of depths and gauges. Siniat’s Weather Defence is a revolutionary new external sheathing board, faced with water repellent material. Siniat’s Frameboard combines high levels of strength, acoustic insulation and fire resistance, ideal for use in the ThrubuildTM systems where the loadbearing frame places extra requirements on plasterboard. Fewer boards are required on site and your specification and installation process is simplified.

The single solution is manufactured offsite at Etex’s state-of-the-art production facility in County Durham. The finished panels can then be delivered to site ready for installation and made watertight once windows are fitted, allowing internal works to start and boosting overall construction productivity. This offsite approach also reduces material waste by moving the manufacturing process into a controlled factory environment.

Building on Etex’s ThruwallTM offer, a non-loadbearing external wall system, ThrubuildTM was developed with the support of the business’ Innovation and Technology Centre in Avignon, France. The system has been rigorously tested in wall and floor applications, offering a robust package of fire, acoustic, airtightness, weathering and mechanical performance evidence to meet the latest regulations.

ThrubuildTM is guaranteed under one 30-year warranty, giving specifiers, clients and building users peace of mind and removing the need for project teams to review disparate performance data from materials providers. It is also independently tested by Warringtonfire and the Building Research Establishment. This golden thread of performance data gives project teams all the information they need to comply with Building Regulations and support ongoing maintenance.


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The advanced building system is designed for multi-storey buildings with repeatable designs including residential, build-to-rent, hotels and student accommodation schemes. Thrubuild’sTM performance can be tailored to meet the requirements of specific projects, providing up to 120 minutes of fire resistance and sound insulation of up to 61 Rw (-5 Ctr) dB.

Melanie Davies, Market Manager at Etex Building Performance, commented: “The government has already expressed a preference for modern methods of construction for public sector projects where these offer value for money. At Etex, we believe that this approach should be more widely adopted. New materials, innovative building systems and digital working are crucial to drive up quality standards and efficiency across all areas of the construction industry, including the residential sector.

“We need to see a change of mindset and investment across the supply chain. That is why we are committed to building our offsite capabilities. With the launch of ThrubuildTM, we can offer customers a faster, safer way of building with each element designed to work alongside each other to ensure they deliver their expected performance.”  

Etex Building Performance is a division of the Etex Group which brings together the products and solutions of three dry construction materials companies – Siniat, Promat and EOS. It combines drywall, external sheathing, passive fire protection and steel framing systems expertise under one roof, bringing great opportunities for system solutions.

Creagh, one of the UK’s largest producers of concrete products for a range of market sectors are changing the way people think about concrete, bringing new levels of efficiency and performance to their products. This can be seen in one of their latest projects, Circle Square. MMC Editor Joe Bradbury discusses:


Work is well underway on a new multi-storey car park and hotel at Circle Square in Manchester city centre.

Carparks: a brief introduction

Originally, architecture was never delivered with car parking in mind. However, as cars became accessible for everybody, the popularity of cars rose exponentially. This has dominated design ever since, with the built environment having to morph and evolve around an infrastructure of roads, motorways, garages, car parks and multi storey’s.

Over the years, attitudes towards car parks (especially multi storey) have been in a constant state of flux. People often debate the heritage value of the post-war multi-storey car park, typically constructed out of concrete in a brutalist style. Some believe that these car parks are a blot on our horizons, whilst others campaign to get them listed status in order to protect their architectural value. The Tricorn in Portsmouth is one such example of where demolishment causes controversy, due not only to its aesthetics but also its cultural value; it famously featured in the 1971 film ‘Get Carter.’

Wider adoption of modern methods of construction, such as offsite, are now serving to revolutionise the humble car park even further, making it fit for modern demand.

Why offsite?

Offsite construction provides specifiers with programme certainty and quality though simplification of site operations and reduced weather dependencies due to the controlled factory-based assembly process. Buildings delivered through offsite construction offer enhanced specification standards and build quality which reduces occupancy costs related to energy use, defects and repairs. There is significant evidence that suggests that the use of offsite construction has been successful when applied to meet the needs of significant developments at scale with consequential opportunities for standardisation of design details – particularly to meet the need of government led programmes.

‘The Waste and Resources Action Programme’ posit that offsite construction practices generate up to 90% less waste than more traditional building methods. This is because a factory is a much more controlled environment than a traditional building site – throwing far fewer variables into the mix.

Offsite and modular construction is much less energy intensive than traditional building methods. The carbon footprint left by the many construction vehicles and machinery on the site of a traditional construction project alone is considerably larger than that of modular construction. Fewer vehicles involved and less time spent on site results in fewer emissions and a vastly reduced carbon footprint as an industry.

About Circle Square

Russells Construction has been appointed by developer Bruntwood as main contractor for the delivery of the project. Creagh have been enlisted to manufacture, supply & fit stair cores, hollowcore flooring and bespoke inset brick panels.

The first ten floors of the 16 storey hybrid building, will encompass a 1,014 space car park, with a 158 bed hotel located on top of the car park.

The aerial images show the size of the site, with the concrete cores, supplied by Creagh and steelwork structure showing the scale of the large development underway.

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios served as concept architect for the car park and hotel, with the design reflecting the city’s industrial past. Inspired by the nearby 19th century warehouses, the building will be constructed from a pre-cast concrete panel system, utilising inset bricks (supplied by Creagh) which draw on Manchester’s rich links to the grand infrastructure of the Victorian era.

Located on the former BBC site on Oxford Road, Circle Square is a joint venture between Bruntwood SciTech and Select Property Group that will see the creation of a pioneering new urban destination that will boast over 1700 new homes, 1.2 million sq. ft. of workspace and over 100,000 sq. ft. of retail and leisure space. Circle Square will also feature the first and largest new city park for generations, providing much needed green space in the city.

In summary

Offsite offers fast and affordable solution to meet modern demand, and with the UK Environment Agency and other government bodies putting increasing pressure on construction companies to reduce pollution and conform to environmental regulations, it is a shift in practice that happens regardless of anybody’s stance on the subject. Companies such as Creagh are at the forefront of this great change.

By Graham Cleland, Managing Director of Berkeley Modular


Even at the most basic level, the manufacturing sector bears little resemblance to the construction sector. Significant differences exist between the sectors, typically manifest in terms of culture: operating philosophy; productivity; return on investment; employment and talent development rationale; and so forth. For some reason though, when ‘offsite’ is the prefix to manufacturing or construction, people often consider the resulting terms to mean the same thing. However, they do not – in fact, they imply very different things. This confusion regarding the terms offsite manufacturing and offsite construction suggests it is worth attempting to differentiate between the two.

Consider, for the strict purpose of being able to draw a transparent comparison, the concept of ‘lean’ might prove a useful vehicle because it chimes directly with the notion of sustainable business. In itself, ‘lean’ can be interpreted in multiple ways, but here we can assume it implies the elimination of unnecessary waste and so provides a basis for measurement. This should facilitate demarcation between the notions of offsite manufacturing and offsite construction. The intent is not to necessarily prove that one of these approaches represents a better business model than the other, since both have merit depending on corporate fit / maturity rather to provide a comparison in terms of lean performance.

To bring the comparison between offsite manufacturing and offsite construction to life and aid understanding it is best to hypothesise an artificial model, and use assumptions reflecting differences in the two approaches to generate data that might make interrogation and further analysis viable.

Suppose we assume that the two comparable approaches are based on an equivalent output of 5no fully-fitted modules per day with each fully-fitted module comprising 20 tonnes of materials (i.e. parts, components, equipment, etc.), wherein this notional material content amounts to £30k of theoretical cost. This theoretical cost of material per module in itself is arbitrary but will provide a baseline for subsequent adjustment of the artificial model contingent upon differences in logic between the two approaches. Again, for the purposes here, we will limit such adjustment to some key characteristics, rather than try to compile an exhaustive narrative that would not necessarily add value in creating transparency.

Physical Material Waste

Offsite manufacturing is a process wherein physical material waste is associated with genuine yield as opposed to excess, and typically such yield might be fairly minimal and hence limited to 2 percent. Hence, offsite manufacturing-biased output of 5no modules per day with each module nominally weighing 20 tonnes implies a total weight of required material to produce of 102 tonnes (i.e. 100 tonnes plus 2 tonnes of yield). Assuming £30k of theoretical cost per 20 tonnes of material, then the total calculated cost of required material to output 5no modules per day would be £153k.

Offsite constriction is a process more akin to traditional construction where physical material waste is associated with incorrect process / damage / defects / inefficiency, and typically such excess might amount to 15 percent. Hence, offsite construction-biased output of 5no modules per day with each module nominally weighing 20 tonnes implies a total weight of required material to produce of 115 tonnes (i.e. 100 tonnes plus 15 tonnes of excess). Assuming £30k of theoretical cost per 20 tonnes of material, then the total calculated cost of required material to output 5no modules per day would be £173k.

Administrative Resource Waste

Offsite manufacturing is an approach which borrows best practice principles related to supply / operations planning from other sectors such as automotive and aerospace. Accordingly, the sourcing, ordering, receipting and inspection of materials to support offsite manufacturing-biased process is typically very efficient, so we can assume the administrative resource required to support the sourcing, ordering, receipting and inspection of materials might be, say, 0.5 percent of the adjusted required material cost calculated previously. Hence, the adjusted cost of required material to output 5no modules per day at £153k would imply £8k of people cost generating a revised total calculated cost of £161k.

Offsite construction reflects an approach which borrows best practice principles the broader construction sector, often relying upon merchants and trade contractors for the supply of materials. Accordingly, the sourcing, ordering, receipting and inspection of materials to support offsite construction-biased process is typically inefficient, so we can assume the administrative resource required to support the sourcing, ordering, receipting and inspection of materials might be, say, 1.0 percent of the adjusted required material cost calculated previously. Hence, the adjusted cost of required material to output 5no modules per day at £173k would imply £17k of people cost, generating a revised total calculated cost of £190k.

Logistics Waste

Offsite manufacturing is predicated on the just-in-time delivery of materials on a daily replenishment basis to support the offsite manufacturing-biased output of 5no modules per day. In essence, a properly considered logistics strategy will facilitate optimisation of deliveries based on controlled logic wherein there is a plan for every part capturing how it is consumed; where it is consumed; when it is consumed; etc. So, assuming a cost of £1k per delivery (whether full or part-load), and optimised loads of 25 tonnes per delivery, the costs associated with delivery of 102 tonnes of required materials is £5k generating a revised total of £166k from the value calculated previously.

Offsite construction is inherently less efficient due to the nature of the supply chain relations and sourcing strategies. The scope to optimise deliveries is much reduced, primarily due to the wider number and variety of supply sources and there is no real scope to embrace plan for every part logic. Moreover, due to factors such as minimum order quantities, it is not as easy to hold buffer inventory in third party premises, so it is common to observe much more physical stock in the production facility. So, assuming the same cost of £1k per delivery (whether full or part-load), but loads of 15 tonnes per delivery, then the costs associated with delivery of 115 tonnes of required materials is £8k generating a revised total of £198k from the value calculated previously.

Disposal / Recycling of Physical Waste

Offsite manufacturing affords more opportunity to control what happens to surplus material, but irrespective there are often direct or indirect costs associated with dealing with this. Strategic supply chain relations also ensure that more material is likely to be recycled than disposed of, primarily because the plan for every part logic will capture the requirement to feed material back to source. Hence, assuming that these direct / indirect costs might amount to say £500 per tonne, then 2 tonnes of yield implies an additional cost impact of £1k generating a revised total of £167k from the cost calculated previously.

Offsite construction is inherently less efficient in terms of creating waste, and this can be related to the increased number of deliveries and associated off-loading; more sorting and increased inventory; etc. The lack of strategic supply chain relations also means that more material is likely to be disposed of than recycled. Hence, assuming that the related direct / indirect costs might also amount to say £500 per tonne, then 15 tonnes of surplus implies an additional cost impact of £8k generating a revised total of £206k from the cost calculated previously.


While it would be possible to continue extending this hypothetical logic based on other assumed differences between the two approaches, there is hopefully sufficient insight to create the intended transparency. In terms of elimination of unnecessary waste, the calculated values of £167k and £206k reveal that even a limited number of hypothetical adjustments show offsite construction can be shown to be 25 percent less efficient than offsite manufacturing to produce the same equivalent output. Of course, it might not be reasonable to try to defend the exact assumptions that have given rise to the differences in calculated value, but equally it would be difficult to argue a counterpoint that no difference actually exists.

A recent report by McKinsey suggested that offsite construction does not easily afford the scalability and productivity performance of offsite manufacturing, and typically requires a bigger factory footprint to output 5no fully-fitted modules per day (i.e. circa 1,000 modules per annum). This difference in scale of operation has not accounted for in the hypothesis, nor has the fact that offsite construction tends to rely on conventional trade skills and incurs labour rates which are no different to traditional, as the report highlights. These are important factors, and a recent UK Government report has urged new and existing actors in the offsite sector to think more radically to help create more technology-biased approaches which embrace digitalisation and provide appeal to an entirely new population of potential talent.

In conclusion then, it is useful to ask why it is so important to understand the demarcation between the notions of offsite manufacturing and offsite construction. For our purposes here, the distinction has been characterised by attempting to quantify a difference in terms of unnecessary waste. The key point, however, is that an offsite manufacturing approach facilitates predictability and repeatability, and more readily affords scope to embrace digitisation with an emphasis on Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) as opposed to just visualisation. By applying the right sort of thinking it is possible to envision a flexible offsite manufacturing methodology which can support the notion of mass customised product (i.e. non-template / non-platform solutions) with capacity for high conversion velocity (i.e. the elapsed time to convert raw materials to finished product). These sorts of outcomes can help to provide the necessary rationale for making the investment in capital equipment and developing a different sort of talent pool that might provide the foundation for a transformative industrialised logic.

by Simon Lloyd – Kiwa Building Products


The concrete ground floor of a building must be constructed to:

  • resist the passage of ground moisture to the upper surface of the floor covering;
  • not be damaged by water vapour and water from the ground;
  • not let interstitial condensation adversely affect the structural and thermal performance of the concrete ground floor nor promote surface condensation.

A concrete ground floor might also need to protect the occupants of a building from ground gases.

A concrete ground floor will meet these requirements when a damp proof membrane (DPM), water proof or gas proof membrane is incorporated in the floor build-up.

Such a membrane could be a flexible, chemically resistant, co-polymer thermoplastic sheet, manufactured in accordance with BS EN 13967 from low-density polyethylene. Some membranes have integral aluminium foil for resistance to methane, carbon dioxide and radon gas. On site, the membrane sheet laps can be hot weld jointed or the laps are bonded using double-sided self-adhesive jointing tape and, in some cases, sealed with single-sided self-adhesive lap tape.

A membrane at least 300 μm thick with sealed joints can be laid under a ground-supported concrete slab to prevent the concrete from gaining moisture through capillary action. If the ground could contain materials that are dangerous to health or cause failures in buildings e.g. water soluble sulphates, contaminants, chlorides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or ground gases, a suitable membrane should be specified.

A membrane laid above a concrete slab should be protected by an insulation layer and/or screed layer, prior to application of a floor finish.

A DPM can act to prevent the ingress of ground water vapour, and ground liquid water when not subject to hydrostatic pressure.

A water proof membrane can be used for protection against liquid ground water under hydrostatic pressure to BS 8102 Type A, if the joints can be hot welded. It can provide waterproofing protection Grades 1 and 2; and Grade 3 when part of a combined waterproofing solution.


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Cellar and basement tanking membranes can be used with cavity drainage wall membranes and ancillaries as part of a type C basement waterproofing system. A suitably designed sealed system can drain away groundwater in a controlled manner.

Ground gas membranes protect a building and its occupants from the ingress of ground VOC vapours and liquids, and methane/carbon dioxide ground gases, in accordance with BS 8485 and CIRIA C748.

Design of ground VOC vapour and ground gas protective measures for buildings on contaminated land or in areas of risk must be in accordance with the recommendations in CIRIA C665, C716D, C735, C748, R149, BS 8485 and BRE Report 414.

When medium to high levels of ground VOCs and ground gases are present or when the generation of gases still occurs, a suspended concrete ground floor or an open void beneath a ground supported concrete ground floor, should be used to ventilate ground gases to atmosphere.

For installation, a surface blinding layer of soft sand may be needed to fill voids in the hardcore base, to prevent the risk of puncturing during pouring of a concrete slab, or sand blinding of a concrete slab to prevent puncturing during installation of a screed layer.

The installation of a membrane must achieve complete continuity and integrity across the footprint of a building. It must be sealed to the perimeter damp proof course in walls, at piers and around service pipe penetrations.

In ground VOC and ground gas barrier applications, airtight seals must be formed around all service pipe penetrations using taped membrane or top hat units suitable for the application.



The Kingspan TEK Building System has been used to construct five luxury villas at the Porth Veor Manor Hotel near Newquay – providing the perfect seaside spot for holiday makers.

The mid-19th Century manor sits in two acres of terraced lawn gardens. In 2007, a swimming pool and 12 cottages were added to the resort and, with demand continuing to grow, the owners chose to build a further row of two-storey villas in an underused section of the grounds. The Kingspan TEK Building System of structural insulated panels (SIPs) was specified for the project for a variety of reasons, as Mike Burke from contractors Sip Hus, explained:

“The design of the units, their location, size and performance requirements meant that the Kingspan TEK Building System was the best choice for the structural shells. The excellent thermal performance of the panels allowed us to maximise the internal spaces within the given footprint without having to compromise on thermal efficiency.”

The Kingspan TEK panels feature a high-performance rigid insulation core which is sandwiched between two layers of OSB/3. The panels were factory cut to the villa’s designs by SIP Hus Ltd. This allowed them to be installed quickly and efficiently once onsite, with the structural shells erected in just 5 weeks.


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To reflect the architecture of the surrounding beach front properties, the upper storey of each villa is clad in New England style boarding whilst the lower storey is rendered in light neutral colours.

To help situate the buildings within their natural surroundings, the villas were designed with barrelled green roofs. This curved form presented an unusual challenge for the contractors, as Mike Burke added:

“In order to create a curve, the roof panels were spanned horizontally and faceted then battened and lined with plywood. The step in each villa also added to the complexity of the canopy design.”

The panels feature a unique jointing system which reduces thermal bridging and, in combination with their OSB/3 facing, also allowed air leakage to be reduced. This creates a warm and comfortable environment for holidaymakers, whilst also minimising their long-term heating costs.

Network rail looks to engage commuters in it’s design plans with the help of an app


Use of AR – a first for Network Rail – puts architects’ designs into passengers’ smartphones.

Network Rail has contributed its design data to an app that enables passengers to use augmented reality (AR) to see replacement footbridges at stations. The app will support Network Rail’s engagement with passengers while delivering footbridges across the network throughout Control Period 6 (1 April 2019 – 31 March 2024) and beyond.

The app, called ARki and developed by Darf Design, provides 3D visualisations of planned buildings in situ. Thanks to the collaboration with Network Rail and Wood, ARki now incorporates the footbridges, helping passengers and local communities see their future as Network Rail rolls out its new generation of signature footbridges. Available in the Apple app store from 16 October, the app’s cutting edge AR technology gives Network Rail a new level of engagement with rail users.

Network Rail has developed three footbridge designs that blend forward-thinking architecture with creative engineering, bringing a new level of quality and a distinctive identity as the current, standard model is replaced in the years ahead. The three designs are:

The Beacon – a fully glazed bridge featuring lantern-topped lift towers and a dynamic articulated engineered structure

The Ribbon – an update of the classic arched footbridge with an elegant floating canopy spanning the track, featuring 30-degree lift and stair rotations

The Frame – a radical expression of minimalism that offers a range of flexible, functional configurations. Winner of the Network Rail and Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) footbridge design competition of 2018, this design by Gottlieb Paludan Architects of Denmark was judged best among 120 entries from 19 countries.

“The app will give our customers a glimpse of their future station, using new technology to give a level of detail we’ve never provided before,” said Anthony Dewar, professional head, buildings and architecture at Network Rail. “As well as keeping local people informed of changes to their station, it provides a fitting, high-tech showcase for our exciting new footbridge designs. We’re very proud of the three new designs and want as many people as possible to be aware of and appreciate them – the app is the perfect way to showcase the footbridges to as large an audience as possible.”

The app integrates the architects’ design files into a smartphone’s video footage through ARKi. “Our vision is to allow designers to share their 3D models in the real world,” says Sahar Fikouhi, founder of interactive design studio Darf Design and developer of ARki – recently shortlisted as one of the 10 companies to join Digital Catapult’s Augmentor programme, which is helping to accelerate UK investment in immersive technologies such as AR.

“It’s very rare for the public to have this access to genuine architects’ drawings and this is one of the first examples of one-to-one scale visualisations of future projects. The app is helping to democratise the way structures are designed and built by giving the public this access at early stages of design selection,” added Fikouhi.

Wood has taken on the role of technology integrator, building on their work with Network Rail and in stakeholder engagement. “Wood is proud to assist Network Rail in its mission of engaging the public during introduction of high quality design and engineering into its estate through this transparent process. The integration of such technologies for our clients helps keep all interested parties engaged,” says Charles Humphries, Director – Built Environment at Wood.

“Having managed stakeholder engagement on a number of major infrastructure projects, we are fully aware of the importance of community involvement. Showing passengers what their bridge will look like is a great way of winning over the hearts and minds of rail users,” says Humphries.


With the opening of its City Intelligence Lab (CIL), the Center for Energy, the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) is setting a new milestone in its research infrastructure.

“The City Intelligence Lab at the Center for Energy is bringing about a paradigm shift by using digital technologies to include user perspectives, making the lab an international model when it comes to urban planning processes of the future,” says Wolfgang Hribernik, Head of the Center for Energy, at the opening. Functioning as an interactive platform, the City Intelligence Lab combines innovative processes with the latest digital planning tools using big data and artificial intelligence (AI). It is therefore able to realistically simulate and run through scenarios such as the climate situation in different parts of the city.

City Intelligence Lab – an international model laboratory

The laboratory is an interactive platform designed to allow tomorrow’s urban planning professionals to investigate new methodologies and technologies and takes a co-creative development approach, enabling the joint creation of new knowledge. “In establishing this laboratory we have produced a platform and a space for experimentation, what you could call a sort of medical laboratory for digital technologies,” says Nikolas Neubert, Head of the Competence Unit for Digital Resilient Cities at the Center for Energy.

The laboratory applies key technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence in order to develop complex simulations and parametric designs. “The innovative achievement of tomorrow’s urban planning will be to apply digital technologies in order to create diverse planning scenarios which offer a broad portfolio of solutions for cities and their inhabitants. We have created the infrastructure necessary to do this,” Nikolas Neubert goes on to explain. The laboratory is equipped with interactive projection screens and models which together provide an improved collaborative planning environment, as well as an AI-based urban planning model which combines real-time simulation prediction and generative design, enabling the experts to explore unprecedented situations.

By working closely with other research institutions such as the Future Cities Lab at the ETH Zurich, and through close links with the private sector, the CIL is designed to become an international hub which facilitates the development of new research approaches.

Climate change and digitalisation in cities demand new ideas for planning and implementation

Urbanisation is a modern phenomenon. It requires cities to intelligently manage their growth and find answers to the challenges of climate change.
“Again, this year, we experienced an extreme heatwave. The growth and increased densification of cities only enhances the problem of overheating during the summer months,” explains Nikolas Neubert. Overheating is understood as the growing number of very hot days which reach a maximum temperature of over 30°C, and tropical nights in which the nighttime temperature never falls below 20°C. This development poses a health burden for the population.

“In order to make cities more resilient to this situation, we can use machine learning in the City Intelligence Lab to simulate microclimates for summer days and heatwaves, both with and without adaptation measures, to run through different climate models, and to present the results in visual form. This allows us to immediately identify the measures which would be effective in helping to cool particular areas of the city,” Nikolas Neubert says.

Digital technologies shift the focus of urban planning to the needs of residents

The innovative achievement of urban planning will be to use digital technologies in order to create diverse planning scenarios which offer a broad spectrum of solutions for cities and their inhabitants. In the LiLa4Green project, for example, a research team led by the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology is working together with city residents in two districts of Vienna to develop ideas and solutions to counteract urban overheating in parts of the city. The Living Lab approach combines innovative social science methodology with cutting-edge digital technologies in order to involve citizens in Wien Favoriten and Matznerviertel (Wien Hietzing) as early on in the planning process as possible. The aim is to ensure that the measures have a significant social impact and are widely accepted. In September 2019 LiLa4Green was selected as a candidate for IBA_Vienna 2022. LiLa4Green is being funded by the Climate and Energy Fund – Smart Cities Demo.

Innovations for cities and the built environment 

In its Digital Resilient Cities research field, the Center for Energy at the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology blends urban planning expertise with state-of-the-art city management and planning solutions. The researchers combine innovative processes with cutting-edge digital planning tools using big data and artificial intelligence (AI). Although the research projects are based in Austria, a large proportion (60%) of them are international. Know-how “Made in Austria” is in demand everywhere, whether in Germany, Argentina or Uzbekistan.

AIT Center for Energy

At the AIT Center for Energy over 200 experts are developing sustainable solutions for our future energy system under the leadership of Wolfgang Hribernik. The Center combines longstanding experience and scientific excellence with high quality laboratory infrastructure and a global network to offer companies innovative applied research services, providing them with a competitive edge in this promising market. A total of 370 research projects were carried out in 2018, with European projects accounting for 41 percent. The thematic portfolio of the Center for Energy focuses on three key systems: sustainable energy infrastructure, decarbonisation of industrial processes and facilities, and innovative technologies and solutions for cities and the built environment. More information about the Center can be founc on this link

CEMEX Ventures has celebrated its Pitch Day, an event at which the 10 winners of the Construction Startup Competition 2019 presented their solutions to a jury of experts in construction, innovation, and entrepreneurship. This global challenge, which doubled its participation compared to the 2018 competition, seeks new business models that work in the six priority opportunity areas defined by CEMEX Ventures.

Launched in February, the competition challenged the most promising startups to become leaders of the construction revolution. 10 solutions focused on the Contech space are one step closer to CEMEX Ventures’ offering and its challenge launched this year: to leave its mark on the industry. After an exhaustive analysis, those that stood out for their innovative and technological merit were named winners for providing solutions in one of the six areas of focus of CEMEX Ventures, or for improving the value offer of CEMEX in the countries in which it already operates or can open new markets.

The entrepreneurs who were invited for this three day event in Monterrey, Mexico, came from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Norway, the US, and the UK. The winners constituted the central axis of the event where, in addition to presenting their project, they engaged with multidisciplinary teams from CEMEX to explore possible opportunities for collaboration. They also conducted workshops with Google to optimise their search for customers and to understand how digital media helps generate value for attracting customers.

Winning startups offered solutions in the following areas:

  • 360 Smart Connect: Intelligent traceability to increase efficiency in construction processes (France).
  • Arqlite: Production of artificial gravel entirely from recycled plastics, which is three times lighter and 10 times more insulating that conventional gravel (Argentina).
  • BuildStream: Real-time management of heavy equipment and logistics in complex construction projects and their supply chains (US).
  • BldBox: Predictive analytics platform that takes advantage of historical project data and produces accurate estimates for new construction and development projects (US).
  • Matrak: Tracking network of construction materials that digitalises the supply chain (Australia).
  • Morta: Coding and automation for compliance and building regulations (UK).
  • PlanRadar: SaaS solution for documentation and communication in construction and real-estate projects (Austria).
  • Rebartek: Automation of the prefabrication of reinforcement cages by industrial robots (Norway).
  • Thunderbolt pipeline: Intelligent end-to-end platform that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to reduce risks and allow preconstruction teams to make more competitive offers (US).
  • Vero Solutions: Modular design builder that applies a disruptive and patentable technology for steel and cement (Canada).

The Pitch Day event was chaired by an integrated, multidisciplinary jury, with high functional and experience levels in the industry. It managed to combine leaders from the construction industry, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship on an international scale, including companies such as Google, 500Startups, TEKFEN Ventures, WND Ventures, and Dalus Capital.


Source: Cement World