Offsite Magazine - Issue 01 - Spring 2016

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RISK REDUCTION Save money, improve timescales and increase your return on investment.


PANELISED & VOLUMETRIC SYSTEMS From hospitals to homes, light gauge steel is the perfect fit.


OFFSITE MANAGEMENT SCHOOL Shaun McCarthy OBE explains how they are improving the UK’s offsite skills.


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PUBLISHER: Offsite Magazine is produced and published by Radar Communications: ©Radar Communications Ltd. Radar Communications Ltd, 5 Darwin Court, Oxon Business Park, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. SY3 5AL T: 01743 290001 For offsite enquiries please contact: E: DISCLAIMER: The content of Offsite Magazine does not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or publishers and are the views of its contributors and advertisers. The digital edition may include hyperlinks to third-party content, advertising, or websites, provided for the sake of convenience and interest. The publishers accept no legal responsibility for loss arising from information in this publication and do not endorse any advertising or products available from external sources. No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system without the written consent of the publishers. All rights reserved.

THINK DIFFERENT BUILD DIFFERENT It’s an exciting time for offsite construction. Interest in the ways that factory-controlled methods of manufacture can deliver a more sustainable, streamlined and cost-effective built environment is higher than ever. The economic downturn from 2007-8 onwards put the brakes on a lot of investment and construction activity everywhere, but as the economy has improved, so has confidence in pursuing innovative and precision ways of building.

to transform the way we build, or as he puts it - ‘Construction Industrialisation’. We have contributions from the Concrete Centre, Steel Construction Institute and the Structural Timber Association, alongside seasoned experts such as Dr Robert Hairstans, Head of the Centre for Offsite Construction + Innovative Structures and Simon Ambler, Director of the Portakabin Group – both of whom give some compelling reasons why the demand for offsite methods from major contractors is growing and being better understood.

Offsite magazine has been designed to reflect these positive developments and bring to our readers the finest the offsite industry has to offer. This launch issue provides a mix of opinion and advice on where offsite sits in the wider construction landscape. It also covers a lot of ground in explaining some of the reasons why offsite is an important ingredient of the construction mix.

The perennial problem of low levels of housing and poor quality of finish continues, but the offsite approach to delivery contains a rack of possible solutions. And it’s not just all about residential developments where prefabrication can reap enormous rewards – the Offsite Awards 2015 showcased the flexibility that can be delivered spanning a wide range of building types, sectors and applications – we pick out the 10-storey residential development at Banyan Wharf as a prime example.

A common theme of many of the articles inside here is the emphasis on a proactive approach to reshaping the ‘thinking’ about building design. As an example: to address the challenges of the UK Construction Strategy 2025, the Offsite Management School was developed. On p64 Shaun McCarthy OBE from Action Sustainability, introduces the Offsite Management School but also the imperative of adopting a new mindset

This is a busy first issue with plenty to get through, so finally many thanks to all our contributors, supporters and advertisers. Enjoy.

Gary Ramsay

Consultant Editor Email: gary.ramsay



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22 | Offsite Hub




From Urban Splash and shedkm comes hoUSe, a revolutionary concept where buyers can configure their home exactly as they want it based on a closed panel timber volumetric solution.

All the winners from December 2015’s Awards including a case study on the winner of winners – the 10-storey residential development at Banyan Wharf.




Simon Ambler, Director of the Portakabin Group, assesses why demand for offsite construction from major contractors is increasing and how the approach can significantly reduce project risk.


Shaun McCarthy OBE, Director, Action Sustainability, describes what the Offsite Management School hopes to achieve in developing offsite knowledge.

The new offsite construction information centre.

28 | Offsite Mindset Dr Robert Hairstans, Head of Centre for Offsite Construction + Innovative Structures (COCIS), reveals how offsite methods can create a collaborative framework to address issues surrounding skills, culture and innovation.

32 | Consider Concrete Elaine Toogood from the Concrete Centre, picks out some of concrete’s many benefits and why it is central to offsite construction.

36 | Ecobuild Ecobuild, the UK’s largest show dedicated to construction and energy, returns with an increased and in-depth focus on the latest industry trends.

38 | Light Steel & Offsite Construction Andrew Way, Associate Director at the Steel Construction Institute (SCI), explains how light steel framing is suitable for a wide range of building types and applications, from homes to hospitals.

42 | Timber Frame: Meeting Modern Demands Strength, durability and sustainability. Andrew Carpenter, Chief Executive of the Structural Timber Association (STA), discusses the advantages of choosing timber technology.

56 | Material Mix



10 | Offsite News

24 | A 21st Century Housing Revolution

News and developments from across the offsite and wider construction arena.

Darren Richards, Managing Director of offsite construction consultancy, Cogent Consulting, describes a radical vision for the way new homes might be delivered in the future.

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and Maccreanor Lavington Architects, joined together with Laing O’Rourke to produce an award winning, hybrid approach to offsite delivery.

60 | Offsite Construction – where is it going? There has never been a better time to develop the offsite industry. Rory Bergin, Head of Sustainable Futures at HTA Design, describes where the offsite industry could be heading.

Design . Construct . Install









FLEXIBLE LIVING ALWAYS Offsite methods are at the heart of one of the UK’s most exciting housing developments. hoUSe is Urban Splash’s new residential concept and is set to revolutionise the UK’s attitudes to housing where buyers can configure their home exactly as they want it.

1 The inaugural house scheme in New Islington, Manchester, is designed by shedkm, the award-winning architects behind other ground-breaking offsite projects in Manchester, including Chimney Pot Park in Salford and MoHo in Castlefield and has been conceived to bring real choice to homebuyers. With the idea of custom -build becoming more prevalent, it will bring aspects of self-build to the mass market without the need to project manage or have a ‘limitless’ budget to fund the construction. With hoUSe, buyers can configure their home as they want it. Firstly they choose a size (either 1000 sqft or 1500 sqft) and then pick the arrangement of spaces within the 6

house and make selections from a range of specifications as they go through the purchase process. All homes also have a secure parking space and a garden. hoUSe is designed to be 25% bigger than a typical newbuild and is architectdesigned and super-flexible. In order to deliver the important vision of customer choice, Urban Splash needed to rethink how it was going to build the hoUSe concept. It wanted to make houses with great space standards: high ceilings, big windows and give customers the ability to alter and change the layouts both initially when they buy, or if they are on a budget, the option to buy a ‘base model’ and over time improve


and adapt it. Choices range from having their living room on the top floor with an exposed pitched roof – or if they prefer garden living: homes that come with a more conventional living room on the ground floor. Floor plans for each floor include completely open plan living to lots of rooms, plus flexibility on size and type of kitchen and floor finishes. The construction method was important to make these choices manageable from a delivery point of view and predictable from a cost point of view, with offsite manufacture benefiting both criteria. Exploiting the chosen construction method allowed all internal walls to be non-loadbearing. This drove the development of the range plan choices available as sales options, and also allows purchasers to adapt the homes over time, without costly structural alterations. Each option is additive so the main elements of the construction do not change – the pack of components for the choices are brought in and assembled within the manufacturing sequence. The construction method, design and customer journey, from plot sales to specification, have been developed together to suit offsite manufacture. Most elements of construction are disaggregated from weather and site conditions so that the programme is predictable and can be continuous. Should capacity become an issue, factory manufacture can accommodate shift-working something not possible on most residential development sites. The houses are constructed offsite using a closed panel timber volumetric building system. Factory conditions give rise to greater dimensional accuracy with all items pre-cut and machined prior to delivery to the assembly line. This accuracy leads to great speed in construction, with no alterations and amendments to deal with or inaccurate setting out. The timber panels themselves give excellent thermal performance to the walls (0.15 U-Value) and roofs (0.1 U-Value) as well as being incredibly airtight (between 1 and 2 ACH on testing).

COVER STORY hoUSe There is a mechanical ventilation with heat recovery system (MVHR) which works to ensure air flow through the property and capture any heat before exiting the home. The level of performance is more easily achieved offsite than using more traditional building materials. The vision is that with consistent factory conditions and quality control, Urban Splash will be able to deliver homes of a consistently higher quality with fewer customer care issues. Areas developed to suit factory manufacture include elements delivered pre-sized to the factory for assemble, glulam and timber I-beams are all delivered to the right size to ensure an efficient assembly line and dry construction which is essential for this environment. QA control is more easily achieved with the smaller, more focussed assembly teams helping to create this unique concept.

BIM and factory-based design technology allows precise scheduling of all components, reducing waste and increasing cost certainty. The hoUSe envelope would meet CFSH level 6 (the highest level) for thermal performance. This can be achieved with traditional building techniques but it would prove much more difficult. The offsite method that the team has adopted achieves this as standard. Other examples of the benefits of offsite construction include the window seats and walk in bay windows which were designed to be factory-fitted, the solar thermal installations were developed through consideration of alternative products and assembly tested to suit factory application and transport.

TOM BLOXHAM TO PRESENT AT EXPLORE OFFSITE HOUSING Chairman and co-founder of Urban Splash, Tom Bloxham, will be speaking at the forthcoming Explore Offsite Housing event which will bring together technology leaders to discuss the opportunity the housing shortage presents for offsite construction to play a major role in the coming years.

Offsite manufacture also makes a positive contribution to the impact that the construction industry has on a development’s existing neighbourhood. It reduces the number of deliveries to site, the number of operations which need to take place onsite, less noise and time with fewer transport problems. There are higher levels of safety and welfare for the team with less working at height. Each terraced house is delivered in two or three modules depending on whether it is a two or three-storey property. As such, each volumetric module has a floor and a roof, which means excellent acoustic insulation. The units come to site almost complete so the roof finish, windows and cladding are factory-fitted. Each block is zipped up around the edges and between each other after being craned into place. The interiors come fully-fitted, so kitchens, bathrooms, floor finishes and mechanical and electrical installations are all carried out at the factory. The design team and factory team have investigated a wide range of designs, materials, products and fittings to maximise the level of offsite manufacture whilst providing the highest quality finish. The houses can be finished in almost anything, which is essential to expand the concept UK-wide, where local context will require a variety of external solutions.

2 For the hoUSe concept, offsite construction has allowed for greater quality control and project management efficiency. The design and delivery approach adopted by Urban Splash and the project team encapsulates everything that offsite construction and factorycontrolled methods of manufacture can provide. Pioneering projects like New Islington are key to providing exciting, flexible and defect-free living spaces across the UK that appeal to a wide range of homebuyers from first-timers to expanding families.

Taking place 23 & 24 March 2016, at the NEC, Birmingham, the event will be a platform for construction clients, architects, engineers and contractors to come together and pave a way forward for the industry and the housing sector. TO VIEW THE FULL SPEAKER LINE UP VISIT:

Images: 01-02. Internal and External View. Copyright: Urban Splash

For more information visit:




REDUCING RISK WITH OFFSITE CONSTRUCTION Simon Ambler, Director of the Portakabin Group, assesses why demand for offsite construction from major contractors is increasing and how the approach can significantly reduce project risk.


2 Images: 01. Cambourne: units craned into position 02. Simon Ambler, Director, Portakabin Group 03. North Middlesex Hospital 04. Reading Station


The single biggest issue for contractors is the reduction of risk – how to minimise the possibility of budget overruns and delays, accidents on site, and mitigate the impact of an increasingly volatile labour market. Research from Aecom last year showed that up to a third of bidding opportunities were turned down if projects were deemed to be too high risk. Contractors are certainly becoming far more selective about which clients they will now work with as the economic climate continues to improve. We are experiencing a significant increase in demand for Yorkon offsite construction solutions from the UK’s leading building and civil engineering contractors and in every sector. The approach can radically reduce risk for contractors on a number of levels.


The Impact of Skills Shortages Fresh concerns are being raised about serious skills shortages as analysts increase their forecasts for output growth. The loss of thousands of skilled jobs through the economic downturn has left the sector struggling to attract new talent to meet the surges in construction activity. The situation is set to worsen as work progresses on HS2 which will need a monthly average total workforce estimated at more than 11,000. A report published by the London Chamber of Commerce and KPMG also highlighted a labour and skills shortfall of up to 20% for London and the South East to deliver projects already planned up to 2017. This could equate to a shortage of 150,000 workers, which would severely restrict the delivery of UK construction projects. Some offsite specialists such as the Portakabin Group, however, benefit from a permanent and highly skilled workforce and a robust, long-established supply chain. This approach significantly reduces the reliance on subcontracted labour, which in turn helps to address the skills shortages and geographical volatility in the labour market that can impact heavily on major contractors. How to Achieve Certainty of Delivery on Time and on Budget Offsite construction has been proven to deliver cost and contract certainty and consistent delivery on programme. The Portakabin Group, for example, has completed 99.7% of its projects on time and on budget since 2003 – which is an unprecedented performance. This is in sharp contrast to construction industry figures. According to the latest data published in the ‘UK Industry Performance Report’, 60% of projects were delivered to clients late in the past year.


3 The report also highlights that project delays in UK construction have worsened with only 40% of projects overall being delivered on time. On budget completions have also failed to improve in the past year – just 69% of overall projects were delivered on cost or better. Constructing buildings offsite in a controlled factory environment is more predictable and reduces the effect of poor weather conditions, especially in the winter months, leading to much greater assurance of completion on time and on cost. Quality control is also much easier and the target of achieving zero defects much more realistic. Reducing Accident Rates The construction industry is one of the UK’s largest employers but its health and safety record is still a major concern. However, by working in an engineering environment, maximising work offsite and avoiding work at height, reportable accident rates can be radically reduced. This is because offsite working results in improved safety for a permanent, highly trained labour force, as well as increased productivity. Taking much of the construction process away from muddy sites and into a quality-controlled manufacturing centre is much safer, more efficient and is not reliant on temporary labour. Windows, for example, are pre-installed in the modules inside the factory, without the need for working on scaffolding at high level. And because much of the construction and assembly work is carried out offsite, building sites are safer, quieter, cleaner and generally less disruptive for the client – an important point where building projects are located next to schools, on busy hospital sites or in residential areas. A responsible and forward-thinking approach to health and safety management reduces the risk of accidents and

injury even further. Best practice initiatives employed by the Portakabin Group include: • Employees at every level are involved in writing procedures, including the production and site teams, to ensure the most effective systems are in place and that everyone is fully engaged • Health and safety procedures are promoted via bulletins and ongoing information campaigns to create behavioural safety awareness • Objectives and targets are set and the results shared across the business • There is an open door policy to health and safety, and near miss reporting is actively encouraged • There is an overall vision for an accident and incident-free workplace. The Importance of Programme Reductions Offsite building solutions can reduce programme times by up to 50%. This is a key benefit for contractors needing to achieve a watertight building envelope for earlier fitting out, thereby reducing time on site and all the associated preliminary, staff and security costs. These programme reductions and increased offsite working can also facilitate projects that are part of much larger schemes and where there is a need to move elements and enabling works off the critical path in order to start on site in other areas. Applications of the approach include two healthcare buildings at Royal Sussex County Hospital which were crucial to unlocking the space for the main contractor to proceed with a major redevelopment programme, and a number of track-side buildings which formed part of the £54m Reading Train Care Depot for main contractor VolkerFitzpatrick.

Offsite Becomes a Mainstream Method There is a clear sea change across the construction industry and a much better understanding of the benefits of offsite solutions and the importance of early engagement of the offsite specialist. The concept of moving the construction process into a tightly-controlled engineering environment holds considerable appeal to contractors and clients, particularly on constrained and challenging sites – whether track-side rail, high security nuclear or fully operational hospital and school sites. Other applications include production support facilities for manufacturers, highly complex chemical laboratories, headquarters office accommodation, and convenience stores.


Offsite solutions are increasingly being recognised as a mainstream method of building and the advantages to contractors and the reductions in risk that these techniques can bring are proven – which is reflected in the increased demand. And when combined with a technically-advanced modular building system, the quality of construction that can be achieved is as good as any site-based method. To attend a CPD seminar to find out more about offsite construction visit:



OFFSITE NEWS Fusion Building Systems Attracts the Attention of the Cabinet Office

An innovative approach to create sustainable buildings at affordable costs has attracted the attention of Dr David Hancock, Head of Construction in the Government’s Cabinet Office and prompted a visit to the Northampton headquarters of Fusion Building Systems. The fact-finding visit was an opportunity to learn more about the company’s alternative approach to building which integrates structure, insulation and cladding support in a unique single factory process. “Innovation is crucial to meeting the house building challenge facing this country. Offsite construction by companies like Fusion Building Systems is an exciting part of the attempt to meet this challenge.” said Dr David Hancock. Fusion Business Development Manager Robert Clark added: “The visit provided us with the chance to demonstrate to the Cabinet Office team our unique superstructure solution as a proven alternative method of construction that could well go a long way to reducing the UK housing shortage. Our patented pre-insulated panel system has been developed over 15 years and we are seeing more 10

and more the Fusion System being adopted by funders, developers and main contractors in order to tackle the current housing deficit.” The delegation which included representatives from the Cabinet Office, Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the Department for Communities and Local Government was walked through the manufacturing facility which employs a workforce of more than 100 people. Robert added: “We know we have a system which could help to reduce the housing crisis but to take it to the next level we need see continuity in high volume demand and partners committed to modern offsite construction methods.” The company, which in December was ‘Highly Commended’ for the ‘Best Use of Steel’ in the 2015 Offsite Awards, was set up in Northampton in 2010. The original idea came from Ireland where it was able to deliver housing at high volumes during the Celtic boom before a move to Northampton.



Group Photo (From left to right) Copyright Brillpix Photography Sam Markey Senior Advisor (Special Projects) Cabinet Office Mike Fairey Fusion Director Steve Alder Fusion Manufacturing Operations Manager Dr. David Hancock Head of Construction Cabinet Office Aidan Wilkie Department for Communities and Local Government Liz Hobman Department for Communities and Local Government Robin Webb Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Sue Westcott Department for Communities and Local Government Robert Clark Fusion Head of Business development Tom Salvesen Fusion Director

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OFFSITE NEWS UKCES Collaborates on Training

Legal & General to Build & Rent 3,000 New Homes

Offsite construction firms must retain a heavier focus on skills, according a report published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) late last year. The UKCES said that construction firms can avoid becoming left behind by recognising skills shortages.

Paul Stanworth, Managing Director of Legal & General Capital, said: “The UK rental market, compared to the US and Europe, is dysfunctional, with ever increasing rents and increasingly poor accommodation. For this to change, and renting to become more affordable, we need to invest in the ‘new’, and build new homes to rent, and just stop inflating the prices of old housing stock. At Legal & General we’re going to play our part by disrupting the market, and invest significant sums of long-term institutional money to build new rental housing, and develop a UK institutional rental market.”

The report recommended that educators and businesses should collaborate more often to ensure educational institutions and professionals keep up with technological advancements.

Legal & General Capital (LGC) and Dutch pension fund manager, PGGM, have announced the launch of a Build to Rent partnership. The partnership will initially invest £600m into building purpose built private rental housing across the UK, providing over 3000 homes. The insurance and pensions firm will be landlord of thousands of flats, starting in Bristol, Salford and London.

Speaking about the findings unveiled within the report, Carol Stanfield, assistant director at UKCES, said: “The challenge has supported businesses in the offsite construction sector to tackle specific issues prompted by technological developments. However, much of the learning that we gathered from these projects, about collaboration and sharing best practice, is applicable to any sector facing similar technological change – something that is currently affecting almost the entire economy.” The report also found that the breadth and depth of skill gaps were sometimes greater than originally thought. Furthermore, the study showed that it is crucial for employers in the sector to recognise these skills shortages otherwise they risk being left behind. Some building firms are already taking steps to address skills shortages, with many introducing apprenticeships to make up for the shortfall. A range of employers have recently collaborated with the UKCES on five skills projects, to test new approaches to training and cooperation. The five projects covered areas such as management skills and operational skills. Skanska, the Steel Construction Institute, Edinburgh Napier University and Buildoffsite were among the organisations involved.

The LGC and PGGM partnership aims to help address the UK housing crisis by increasing the supply of new homes. The UK does not achieve its minimum housebuilding target – building only around 50% of its 250,000 annual requirement. A report by PricewaterhouseCoopers published last summer predicted that almost a quarter of all UK households would be renting privately by 2025 (taking the total to 7.2m households), and that more than half of those would be aged 20 to 39. As house prices have risen much faster than earnings, the number of households renting privately has more than doubled since 2001. In America and Europe, fully fledged institutionally funded and managed rental property markets have developed to increase the supply of homes, lower prices and provide better quality products and service. LGC plans to disrupt the status quo of ever increasing rental rises by investing long-term institutional funds into building new homes to rent at scale, and by developing a UK institutional rental market.

Mathieu Elshout, Investment Director Real Estate at PGGM commented: “As a responsible investor we believe that we have an obligation to contribute to a sustainable world. We can do so via impact investment, or investing in solutions, as we call it. This partnership not only addresses the supply/ demand imbalance, it also aims to improve the UK’s built environment; acting as a catalyst for wider urban regeneration.” Source:

STOP PRESS: Tom Ground CEO of L&G Homes will be presenting at the Explore Offsite Housing event at the NEC Birmingham on 23 & 24 March. Full details at:

Source: 12

The partnership signals a different approach in addressing the UK Housing crisis – long term capital will now be building and owning assets in scale, for the long term. The developments will be purpose built, and of high standard to suit institutional investment. The sites will help urban regeneration, and incorporate modern green design and infrastructure.


OFFSITE NEWS Mabey Bridge Shortlisted for Three International Awards

Flying Factories Set for Take-Off Skanska is part of a successful project to develop ‘flying factories’ – a system of near-site manufacture – leading to cost, environmental and safety benefits, which could help to modernise the construction sector.

Mabey Bridge has been shortlisted for three awards by British Expertise International. The role of British Expertise International is to help its members win and successfully complete business overseas and its annual awards scheme provides a showcase for the international achievements of the UK professional services sector. Mabey Bridge is a leading international provider of high-quality bridging and infrastructure solutions. It specialises in rapid-build, pre-engineered modular bridging to develop, improve and repair essential infrastructure in urban and rural areas. The company’s Sri Lanka Regional Bridging Project has been shortlisted in two award categories; for Outstanding International Development project – Infrastructure and for Outstanding International Collaboration while its Polduwa Bridge project has been shortlisted in

LHC Picks Nine Firms to Deliver Offsite Turnkey Housing Projects Public sector procurement specialist LHC, has launched its Framework Agreement for Offsite Construction of New Homes (design, manufacture, supply and erection) that is available to public sector organisations in England, Wales and Scotland. The latest LHC panel completes a suite of offsite housing frameworks, which also covers specific firms covering volumetric and panelised construction options. Suppliers on the framework have developed standard house types which help clients avoid design issues and save time and money, as the houses already comply with Building Regulations, the Housing Quality Index and funding authority requirements. The pre-tendered framework could be worth up to £1.5bn over four years, according to the national procurement specialist. The work is set to be shared by six firms: Caledonian Modular, Rollalong, F1 Modular, Hill Partnerships, Keepmoat and Galliford Try Partnerships. These firms dominate 38 contract lots covering England, Scotland and Wales, as well as

the award category for ‘Outstanding International Design project’. Commenting on the company’s progress at the awards so far, Mabey Bridge’s Sales Director, Neil Boyle, said: “We have beaten off some stiff competition to get this far. These awards represent an international yardstick by which the performance of British exporting companies such as ourselves can be measured against their peers, many of whom are already recognised as being world-class. These awards also measure ‘soft’ skills that are sometimes overlooked in large-scale engineering projects but which are hugely important, including teamwork and collaboration.” Mabey Bridge will learn if it has won an award in April 2016. Source:

local regions. Other framework place winners include Seddon, and in Scotland Cruden Investments and CCG Contracting. Fully OJEU compliant, it provides local authorities, housing associations and other social landlords with easy access to offsite manufactured volumetric building systems for the use in new home build projects. The framework includes a turnkey solution including design, manufacture, supply, installation and construction services. John Skivington, LHC Director commented, “We are delighted to launch the second phase of our offsite construction framework. Offering a supply only, as well as a full turnkey solution, offers our clients flexibility of choice. The companies appointed to service this new framework meet the strict LHC requirement of offering superior quality while offering competitive pricing.” LHC is a not for profit, local government procurement consortium that can be used by any public sector organisation wanting to procure building products and services for refurbishment and maintenance of schools, social housing, and other public buildings. Source:

Funded by a research grant from government innovation agency Innovate UK, Skanska’s partners in the project are: BRE, ModCell, Lean Consultants Exelin and the University of Reading. The aim is to review projects before they start on site to find opportunities to implement the flying factories approach where possible, to increase quality, safety and sustainability.

Flying factories allow structures to be built in controlled conditions, removing the potential effects of bad weather and other on-site hazards – speeding up the assembly of the building on site, while delivering a safer working environment. The concept was used to assemble wall panels for Glenfrome School in Bristol, enabling a building extension to be completed in just six weeks during the summer holiday. It was then successfully applied to the SRW engineering services project for the Battersea Power Station Development phase one, where 550 ‘utility cupboards’ have been created for residential use. Significant cost and time savings have also been recorded for both projects. Sam Stacey, Head of Innovation at Skanska UK, said: “This is a tremendous example of smarter working in action. It demonstrates the power of creative thinking combined with a collaborative approach. Through collaborating with experts from a range of industries, we can bring to construction improved levels of quality and cost reduction such as those experienced in industries such as automotive and aeronautics.” The purpose of flying factories is to deliver the benefits of offsite factory assembly, while overcoming the barriers of capital investment and high transport costs. Assembly of complex construction components is carried out in short-term rented spaces close to site. Source:



OFFSITE NEWS Offsite Delivers New University Technical College

The Portakabin Group has been awarded the £14 million design and build contract for the UK’s first university technical college (UTC) to be built offsite. Opening in September 2016, the Global Academy will provide academic and vocational training for 14-19 year olds who want to work in the broadcast and digital media industries. Designed by the Portakabin Group and architects Surface to Air, a significant proportion of the work will be completed offsite at the Portakabin Group factory in York in order to meet the challenging programme for completion in time for the start of the 2016-17 academic year. The technicallycomplex building is also designed to deliver a demanding acoustic specification for the broadcast studios, with triple glazing and specially-engineered air conditioning. Commenting on the project, Simon Ambler, Director of the Portakabin Group said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the contract for the UK’s first UTC to be built offsite. This is part of a really exciting regeneration scheme, which will create a landmark 14

education facility to give young people fantastic, practical training for the broadcast and digital media industries. This is a hugely significant project for the construction sector. It demonstrates the architectural flexibility of a highly engineered Yorkon offsite solution from the Portakabin Group and how an outstanding building design can successfully integrate different construction methods. It also illustrates really well how we can deliver an inspiring, animated and intelligent building in a very short timescale and on a highly complex site.”


The scheme is being constructed on the heritage brownfield site of the Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes in the London Borough of Hillingdon. The Global Academy will house a sports hall, theatres and a cinema, which will be linked to a four-storey modular building by a dynamic, full-height central atrium space. There will be extensive facilities for TV and radio broadcasting, including radio studios, TV studios, flexible teaching spaces, informal learning zones to facilitate interaction, a café and dining area. Source:

New Homes don’t just pop out of nowhere...

Or do they? At LHC, we’re firm believers in keeping our clients ahead of the curve. That’s why our team of technical experts have spent the last year developing the UK’s first procurement framework for off-site construction, exclusively for social landlords. Our framework is focused on delivering new homes through either panelised systems (single panels erected on site) or volumetric systems (three dimensional units delivered to site). Both methods are environmentally friendly and offer efficiency as well as financial savings over traditional build methods.

For more information, call our experts on:

01895 274 850 or visit LHC is a leading provider of free-to-use framework agreements used by local authorities, social landlords and other public sector bodies to procure works, products and services for the construction, refurbishment and maintenance of social housing and public buildings

OFFSITE NEWS FP McCann Acquires Buchan Concrete Products

FP McCann has further strengthened its precast concrete arm with the acquisition of Buchan Concrete Products. Buchan is known for its range of concrete products, which are utilised on large-scale civil engineering projects and building schemes including schools, hotels, and university student accommodation. FP McCann has purchased its operations in Byley, Cheshire and Drakelow, Staffordshire. CV Buchan, as the company was originally known in the 1930s, was established as an engineering contractor. Over the years, the company developed into a manufacturer of precast concrete products in the civil engineering market supplying both the UK and overseas contracts, but with the growth in offsite modular construction, the company responded by targeting the building sector and today most of the company’s activity is in this area. Other Buchan precast concrete products that will complement the FP McCann range include utility pits, ground beams, dock leveller pits, walls and a variety of reinforced concrete walling systems. As part of the acquisition, approximately 300 Buchan Concrete Products employees will also join FP McCann with immediate effect. Source:

McAvoy Group Lands £18m Offsite London School

British Precast Launches Safeprecast

McAvoy will build the Goresbrook School for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham while preferred bidder status has been won for a similar project at Lynch Hill Enterprise Academy Trust, Slough. Both projects were awarded through the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) Framework for Modular Building Systems.

British Precast has launched the first dedicated health and safety website and app for the precast concrete industry. The Safeprecast website and app have been developed with guidance from a working group drawn from the industry and builds on the already successful Safequarry and Safer by suite of services developed by the MPA.

Both of the schemes will be funded by the Education Funding Agency. McAvoy Group Managing Director, Eugene Lynch said: “Offsite construction brings with it the benefits of speed, flexibility, decreased disruption and a greatly reduced impact on the environment. Our growing reputation across the UK for the quality of the school buildings we deliver has resulted in significant success across a number of major frameworks that have been established for the delivery of schools funded through the Education Funding Agency.

The free resources will make key health and safety information easily accessible for everybody who works within the precast concrete sector. Users will be able to choose how they access the information either via their office based systems, laptops or mobile devices via the app. The ‘Safeprecast’ website and app will provide instant access to content such as incident alerts, industry guidance, safety videos, latest innovations, toolbox talks and much more. The app will be particularly useful to those who are travelling or frequently working onsite, they will be able to find and view key information without needing to return to the office.

“In the past three years we have completed 12 projects worth £81m under the auspices of these frameworks. These are exciting and challenging times for our business as our offsite methods of construction and smart build techniques continue to be embraced by education authorities throughout GB and Ireland.” Source:

Users will be alerted either via the app or by email when any new content has been added. This could be, for example, an incident alert or new guidance issued by organisations such as the HSE or British Precast. An operator, manager or contractor working on-site will be able to download and review relevant guidance, or watch a video highlighting innovative ways in which others have addressed a similar issue. Source:



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Precast Concrete Off-Site Solutions

OFFSITE NEWS More Pressure for Offsite Skills

Timber Home Builder Growth

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has been called upon to review what skills the construction industry needs to provide more homes. “The number of new homes is up 25% in the last year – and this is further proof we’ve got the country building again and delivering the homes the nation wants,” said Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis. “This means thousands of jobs are now up for grabs and we’re determined to make sure that there are enough skilled workers to get the job done. Construction offers an exciting and rewarding career and we need to build a new generation of home grown talented, ambitious and highly skilled construction workers.” The CLC has asked Mark Farmer, of real estate and construction consultancy Cast, to identify actions that will help bring more workers to the industry. Views are being sought on how to best train a workforce that has a high level of self-employment and bring about greater use of offsite construction. The review will also look at how the industry can introduce measures that encourage more investment and new ways of working. “I’m delighted to be asked to lead this review. The construction industry’s skills shortfall has been growing progressively and its ageing workforce now means affirmative action needs to be taken to avoid more acute issues in the future,” said Farmer. Source:

Tekla Transitions to Trimble Brand Trimble announced that Tekla Corporation transitioned to the Trimble brand on the 1 January 2016. Trimble acquired Tekla in 2011 and the rebranding reflects both the evolution of Trimble as well as its vision for the future. Since the acquisition, Trimble and Tekla have shared a common vision—to transform the building lifecycle through advanced, accessible and intuitive technologies and to drive increased collaboration across the industry. Trimble combines strong domain knowledge with a broad portfolio of technology 18

Builders are increasingly turning to offsite construction and timber systems as the construction skills shortage continues to cause issues in the sector. Stewart Milne Timber Systems, one of the UK’s timber systems designer and manufacturer, has reported that its factories in Oxford and Aberdeen are experiencing growing demand for its build systems, with enquiries up 70% in the year to date. In its most recent survey of its 8,500 members, the Federation of Master Builders reported that two-thirds (66%) of small builders had turned away work because of a shortage of labour. With an estimated 35,000 apprentices needed to meet market demand, only 7000 completed their training in 2013. Alex Goodfellow, group managing director of Stewart Milne Timber Systems, said more and more construction companies were enquiring about, and then adopting, offsite construction methods to reduce site labour requirements and take advantage of its speed of build benefits to meet growing market demand. “There’s huge demand for new homes and huge demand for skilled labour to build them. There is a serious lack of skilled tradespeople available in recent times and many clients are restricted in output or increasing costs to meet their build programmes. We’ve championed offsite construction

and capabilities to develop customer-centric solutions that are transforming the planning, design, construction, maintenance and operation of buildings and civil infrastructure. With an open approach to Building Information Modelling (BIM), the name change reflects the combined companies’ strong commitment to customers — providing the opportunity to tightly connect Tekla software to Trimble’s broad portfolio of design-build-operate (DBO) solutions. With the transition, Trimble’s Tekla software customers can expect the same continued innovation and the best-in-class support and service as they currently receive. Risto Räty, general manager for Trimble’s Structures Division said: “Trimble’s expertise, technologies and


as a building technique for over 20 years and our clients are seeing the real benefits to their businesses in using offsite to maintain build programmes and generate positive cash flows. Offsite also contributes to higher levels of quality and health and safety, with guaranteed performance built in.” “The benefits of offsite construction are significant. From a skills perspective it reduces the impact of labour shortages and enables very high-quality builds in a fraction of the time, with exceptional environmental performance built into the fabric of the building. This adds up to lower on-site costs and means builders can enjoy better ROI and cash flow. Ultimately, we still need to be able to build, and the industry has to find a way to meet demand quickly, cost-effectively and at very high quality.” The two factories operated by Stewart Milne Timber Systems, in Oxford and Aberdeen, can produce 10,000 units each year, with precision-engineered systems including insulated wall panels along with floor and ceiling cassettes. The inherent flexibility of timber means it can be used for anything from residential housing to hospitals, hotels and office units. Source:

investment in research and development enables us to bring solutions to market that transform the construction workflow. The brand name is an important indicator of who we are and what we stand for. Together, we can serve the construction industry better as we tightly connect Tekla software to Trimble’s broad portfolio of DBO solutions.” The integration of Tekla and Trimble’s construction software portfolio will enhance the ability to amalgamate data throughout a project lifecycle, while eliminating costs through better accuracy and interoperability—providing customers with a broad and sophisticated BIM capability. Source:

OFFSITE NEWS TRADA Launch National Structural Timber Specification

The UK Government’s chief construction adviser believes TRADA’s new National Structural Timber Specification (NSTS) is a ‘milestone’ for the timber industry. Launched recently at Arup’s UK headquarters, Peter Hansford said: “The NSTS will help to improve the competitiveness of the timber industry by making it easier for timber to be used under national Building Regulations. This will enable timber to be better able to compete with concrete and steel alternatives and act as a guide for suppliers and clients alike.” Hansford said the NSTS launch would be a significant step forward in the Government’s Construction 2025 initiative, which aims to make the UK construction industry a world-class player. “Timber ticks many of the boxes in helping us achieve this vision,” he added. “The NSTS has the potential to contribute significantly to an increase in productivity. The big prize for our industry is to build Britain constructively.” The brainchild of TRADA, the NSTS gives the construction industry a set of best practice guidelines against which timber buildings can be erected. Some of the timber industry’s leading lights have been instrumental in helping TRADA put together the NSTS, which is now available to download free to those who register on the TRADA website. The National Structural NSTS) was also the centre of lively debate at Timber Expo 2015 as part of TRADA’s Timber Focus seminar programme. In addition, visitors to the TRADA stand were able to see first-hand the fruits of this year’s National Student Design Competition. Dubbed Airspeed, students had to design an air hanger from timber; their intricate models were on display at Timber Expo, drawing positive comments from many of the visitors to the stand. Source:

STA Takes Offsite Timber Debate to Houses of Parliament

The Structural Timber Association (STA) hosted a roundtable discussion at The Houses of Parliament on the future of housebuilding and in particular in February to debate the potential of structural timber and offsite construction building methods. Attended by industry leaders and representatives from The Housing Forum, Zero Carbon Hub and Wood for Good, along with MP David Warburton, the discussions produced an optimistic and positive outlook toward industry growth and development. Hosted by Honorable David Warburton MP, the discussion followed a tour of the Houses of Parliament, where attendees learnt the history of the building and the UK Government. Based around three key areas of discussion – the recent changes in Government regulations and its impact on provision of affordable housing, implications of the postponement of the Zero Carbon Homes target and the opportunity and benefits of offsite construction, each conversation led to placing the consumer at the forefront of the timber housebuilding industry. “Following the recent changes announced by the Government surrounding providing affordable housing, the opportunity to build more, better homes is clear and well-known within the timber frame industry. However, the benefits of using timber frame needs to be communicated not only to developers and contractors but also consumers,” explains Andrew Carpenter, Chief Executive of the Structural Timber Association. “The energy efficiency and sustainability of a home is not currently a priority, or for some even a consideration, when purchasing a new home. And so, in the same way efficiency has now become an important factor when it comes to purchasing a car, we need to instill this into the house buying process too. Following the postponement of the Zero Carbon Homes target, disappointment was felt across the



housebuilding industry. The discussion, therefore, focused around the need for a new target and aim to drive forward the desire for energy efficient homes. Due to the current shortage of affordable homes, it was agreed that any drive toward educating consumers and developers on building better homes should come from the Government. This would then enable the construction industry to communicate benefits of timber and offsite building methods to the wider market. “Offsite construction has taken off within the selfbuild market as a quick and cost-effective way of building a home. However to enable the method to gain a significant market share, other sectors including mainstream residential developments should be considered. “A large area for development is retrofit, where significant energy efficiency increases can be made, bringing older buildings up to date with modern day standards. This was recently demonstrated in a pilot project in Thamesmead, where high performance prefabricated timber façade panels were used to over-clad the existing concrete building. This resulted in significantly improving the building’s insulation and each building only taking a week to complete!” Making use of the skilled professionals already within an industry with a severe skills shortage, offsite construction allows the skills within the industry to go further. Concluding, Andrew said, “Both timber frame and offsite construction present the housebuilding sector with the speed of build, energy efficiency and ease of erection needed to meet the Government housebuilding targets. “To ensure as a sector we grow to meet this demand, we need to educate developers, contractors and consumers of the benefits of modern alternatives to brick and block construction.” Source:

OFFSITE NEWS Off-Site Rule for London Parliament

BBC Seek Offsite Companies for ‘Million Homes Challenge’

The BBC is seeking four offsite housing manufacturers to showcase their products on a site in Manchester, for a three-part BBC 2 series looking at how housing production can be stepped up to address the current shortfall. The question is ‘can the UK really build a million homes by 2020? That’s more than 650 everyday?’ The producers are currently seeking expressions of interest to take part in the programme, which will challenge architects, designers and contractors to build a home in under two weeks. It would focus on offsite methods of construction and will follow the whole process from factory floor to the homes being sold on the open market.

A new report – ‘The Off-Site Rule’ – written with the planning consultants Turley, for London First, calls for a clearer system in London for the offsite construction of affordable homes and payments by developers to planning authorities in lieu of building affordable housing. In London there is a lack of consistency and transparency in the circumstances in which either offsite construction or a payment in lieu is allowed. A similar scheme with similar circumstances incorporating either offsite provision or a payment in lieu may be accepted in one borough, but not in a neighbouring borough, which makes the system unpredictable and difficult to navigate. Greater certainty would help to deliver more affordable homes. The report says that the presumption in favour of affordable homes being delivered onsite should remain. However, there is need for greater clarity about the acceptability of building affordable housing offsite where it can be clearly demonstrated that this would result in better outcomes, either in terms of the quality, quantum or type of homes delivered. It outlines some criteria which could act as a starting point for a developer and local planning authority to assess the suitability of offsite delivery. This would take into account a number of factors such as: land values; the physical constraints of the site; and the type of housing needed in the local area. The report says that more transparency is required about how local planning authorities use the payments in lieu of affordable homes they receive which are sometimes included in a Section 106 Agreement. A new regime should be introduced

which standardises how they are calculated, monitored and used. In particular, it says that local planning authorities should be given a fixed time limit of three years to commit funds to affordable housing projects – or the money should be transferred to the Mayor to be used in one of the GLA’s affordable housing programmes. The report also suggests that the Greater London Authority could have a bigger role to play helping London’s boroughs to deliver more affordable homes. Administrative lines drawn on a map differentiating one borough from the next do not always reflect the geography of local housing markets which can straddle political boundaries. Offsite delivery and payments in lieu both raise issues of cross-boundary delivery. Typically, but not exclusively, this relates to central London schemes that could support more homes in other parts of London where there is more space to accommodate housing growth and lower land values mean increased output. There could be a role for the GLA, with its London-wide remit, to facilitate the cross-boundary provision of new affordable homes, but this would need clear rules and transparency, particularly in how nomination rights between boroughs are addressed. Source: off-site-affordable-housingrequirements-need-more-clarity/

Michael Ratcliffe, series producer at BBC Television, said: “At the moment we are testing the market to see who comes forward and whether we can do what we want to. Whether it happens depends on the enthusiasm out there and the quality of design responses we get.” The BBC’s invitation to tender document says: “Traditionally it takes around 26 weeks on site to build a home using conventional methods. Last year we built just over half the homes the government says we need. So we have to look at new, more efficient and innovative ways of building.” The tender document goes on to say: “The homes should be aspirational but attainable, showing clever, efficient design. They should be highly desirable but affordable. They may be prototypes or adaptations of existing designs so more expensive to build than conventional homes, but they will come with the potential for economies of scale if rolled out in the future. We want them to offer a genuine viable alternative to traditional build methods…and in so doing, be part of the solution to Britain’s housing crisis.” Each home will be a minimum of 80 sq m, and will meet Manchester Council’s design standards, based on the London Housing Design Guide and be mortgageable. The Million Homes Challenge comes as the industry awaits the outcome of two different reviews into housing supply in England and Wales. For more information contact Michael Ratcliffe, Series Producer, BBC TV Email:




THE NEW OFFSITE CONSTRUCTION INFORMATION CENTRE Launched in January 2016, the Offsite Hub is a new and informative web portal, designed to connect the world of offsite construction on a single online platform. A fresh concept for the offsite sector, the Hub is set to become the ‘go-to’ place for the latest offsite industry news, innovative examples of best practice via project case studies, an archive of industry reports and statistics, access to networking events and a comprehensive directory of offsite system suppliers. The current housing crisis, coupled with more commercial businesses looking to expand rapidly, means that there is now a growing demand for contractors to streamline their processes in order to build faster, more efficiently and more sustainably. An increasing number of architects, building designers, specifiers and structural engineers are turning to offsite systems and techniques to achieve these goals. The Offsite Hub has been created as simple, user-friendly way to connect everyone interested in working with the specialist offsite supply chain. The developers of the Hub said: “There is nothing in the offsite industry that caters for all aspects of the offsite construction sector in a single online platform. Our vision for the Hub is to bring the offsite sector and everyone with an interest in it together in one spot. We want it to inform and inspire, and importantly we want to encourage users to share information and network with construction professionals around the latest projects, products and services that offsite construction has to offer.”


The Hub will also offer the latest information and updates on Explore Offsite and the Offsite Awards. Explore Offsite is the successful series of conferences and exhibitions for construction clients and their professional advisers. These comprehensive events explore the latest offsite construction solutions, providing a dynamic and interactive learning experience for all visitors. Explore Offsite is aimed at attracting construction clients, construction professionals, architects, surveyors, engineers, facilities managers, building product manufacturers and suppliers. The Offsite Awards celebrate the best in precision building design and delivery using offsite technologies. The Awards reward outstanding examples of prefabrication and factory-based methods, products, systems and disciplines that increasingly strive to develop a sustainable, streamlined and costeffective way to deliver a better built environment.

The Offite Hub is free to use and contains an archive of offsite-related research reports and strategy documents. Register to receive e-newsletters and offsite bulletins. You can view the Offsite Hub now by visiting:


Connect with everyone interested in working with the offsite supply chain


3 2




1. Information Centre 2. Monthly Newsletters & Eshots

3. Suppliers Directory 4. Awards & Events

5. Quarterly Magazine 6. Offsite Jobs

WWW.OFFSITEHUB.CO.UK Offsite Magazine | Explore Offsite | Offsite Awards



1 Darren Richards, Managing Director of offsite construction consultancy, Cogent Consulting, describes a radical vision for the way new homes might be delivered in the future and where offsite technology can play a leading role. Once again there is a climate of change in the UK housebuilding industry, but we have been here before, so what is different this time around? Market forces are pressuring housebuilders to reconsider their approach to serving customers. Government action in terms of planning guideline relaxation, Building Regulation changes, the rapid emergence of the private rented sector, the development of the Custom-build concept, the roll-out of large public sector consortia programmes and a continual move towards more sustainable building techniques, has combined to force a ‘rethink’ of housing design and delivery from the grassroots upwards. A window of opportunity has opened for offsite construction solutions to take advantage.


As housebuyers are becoming more assertive and the housing market shows signs of developing in the way of other consumer markets, the crucial question has to be, can offsite technology bridge the gap between design-for-production and design-for living? The digital revolution offers new methods of design and construction. The characteristic housing type of the industrial era was the high-rise residential tower with its repeating unit plans and elevation details. The typical home of the post-industrial age may be computer-customised, with designs varying to reflect the diversity of the population, its needs and its preferences.


The potential that offsite construction technology holds in creating a new revolution in the 21st century is huge. Manufacturers, software developers, engineers and architects are promising to transform the housebuilding industry with a mixture of computeraided design (including BIM) and the latest in industrial manufacturing technology – panel systems, pod technology and modular volumetric construction. The latest ideas could turn the construction industry’s traditional hierarchy of homebuyers, builders and architects on its head. Every Home ‘individually’ designed The vision is that new houses could be designed and built in a completely different way – a way that puts the responsibility for design not just on architects but on the people that will buy the dwelling and live in it. Not just in the Custom-build sector either but across all sub-sectors of housebuilding. Rather than simply purchasing one of the many faceless boxes on offer, every new homebuyer would sit down with an architect (or manufacturer) and design their home exactly the way they wanted it. This is the radical opportunity that offsite construction technology presents, with efficient design processes, BIM, CAD/CAM linked production facilities and even the possibility of ‘online’ designed dwellings using configuration software. To make this happen we need ways to simplify – or even partially automate – the design process. There simply aren’t enough architects around with the detailed knowledge or understanding of offsite technology and the related manufacturing processes, for it to be possible with conventional design or construction processes. Just as important, there is a need for costeffective ways to translate these designs into innovative construction solutions. There is also a requirement for new manufacturing techniques for the construction industry to produce custom-shaped elements in whatever size and material the designs call for.


2 Replace mass-produced with mass-customised The result could be an expert system that offers the user the skill and experience traditionally provided by an architect or designer, but as a software package with an easy-to-use interface. Car manufacturers have moved towards similar processes, and this industry is regularly cited as the ultimate model for the offsite construction movement. The general idea is to replace mass-produced, standard models with efficiently mass-customised ones. Flexible production systems, supported by lean manufacturing strategies, today underpin an ability to satisfy unprecedented levels of customer choice. It delivers goods of extremely high quality and reliability at affordable prices. As part of this, good design is recognised as an essential prerequisite for a successful product and this is the opportunity facing the manufacturers of offsite housing. The efficiencies of mass-customisation really begin to emerge when you take automation beyond the design stage. The panacea is to integrate a customer’s online design with flexible computer-controlled manufacturing. In other words, the information generated online should drive the house production line – this is the ultimate in process integration and it may not be as far away as we might think. These processes are already well advanced in the Japanese housebuilding market, where nearly 50% of housing is built using modular volumetric construction techniques, designed and delivered to the customer’s specification and choice.

Modern architecture has relied heavily upon industrially mass-produced elements such as bricks, blocks and tiles. In an extreme form this has given us industrialised components and building systems such as the precast concrete post, beam and panel systems that were popular in post war times, and which produced some remarkably grim housing. Computercontrolled, mass-customisation using offsite methods can free design and choice, opening up the possibility of creating buildings from an unlimited number of individualised parts. The elements of architectural composition need no longer be translations, rotations and reflections of simple shapes. Once CAD and automated assembly plants are integrated, the possibility of radically new architectural languages opens up. Selecting the right technology We are now faced with a plethora of new and ‘second (or third) time around’ offsite technology. The challenge is in selecting the right technology to suit the requirements of the scheme in question, and finding a balance for the ‘time/cost/ quality’ relationship. Cogent advises at looking at a number of key issues when selecting innovative offsite construction solutions: • • • • •

Product selection criteria Feasibility study: fitness for purpose Third party certification Durability performance Capabilities of the supply chain.

Other issues to consider are: • An assessment for compliance with Building Regulations – sometimes a ‘reinterpretation’ is required • More focus on an early design freeze for the project – this is essential due to longer lead-in times for pre-manufactured products • A detailed analysis of tolerances and dimensional co-ordination issues – essential to ensure that offsite manufactured products fit with onsite construction processes • Requirements of maintenance strategies – this should take into account whole-life performance • Inter-changeability of components.

Above all the project management techniques must keep pace with the technology. It is critical that a projectwide procurement strategy is implemented from day one, seeing offsite manufactured solutions as an integral part of the process rather than a ‘bolt-on’ element that just arrives sometime in the future. On this basis the management of the project interfaces and the decision making process must be reviewed – you will have to make decisions much earlier in the project process, but if the feasibility investigation has done its job, then the answers to the questions should already be known. Does it do what it says on the tin? The supply base for offsite construction solutions is still relatively immature and in many instances this supply base is fragmented, but certain technologies have carved out significant niche positions in a number of sectors. Criticism is often levelled at the inability of the supply chain to be ‘flexible’ in what it offers to the market and to move away from offering standard solutions. In many instances the ‘inflexible’ label can be correct, but it is often applied by clients or contractors that have developed unique requirements for their projects. It is this mismatch that will need to be addressed if we are to develop a more integrated construction supply chain. This will only be addressed when manufacturers, contractors and clients all develop an understanding and appreciation for each other’s cultural differences and we begin to communicate in a language that all can understand – perhaps this is where BIM will play a key role in the future? In most cases, the technology ‘does what it says on the tin’ – it is often poor communication and inexperienced project management that fails to get the best out of the technology being applied, or in some cases the technology chosen was not suited to the requirements of the project and this is not surprising when we consider the choices available – timber, steel, concrete, hybrid, panellised, pod or volumetric modular and any combination!



HOUSING CONFERENCE & EXHIBITION NEC, Birmingham 23 - 24 March 2016 Explore Offsite in the housing sector will bring together technology leaders, housebuilders, developers and registered providers to discuss the opportunity the housing shortage presents for offsite construction to play a major role in the coming years. The combined conference and exhibition will include exhibitors and speakers from pioneering companies in the offsite construction industry talking about the latest innovations.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND? The event is aimed at attracting construction clients; construction professionals: architects, surveyors, engineers; facilities managers; building product manufacturers and suppliers.

SPEAKERS INCLUDE Brandon Lewis MP – Minister of State for Housing & Planning INVITED Tom Bloxham MBE - Director, Urban Splash Andrew Orgorzalek - Partner, PCKO Architects Jeff Endean - Housing Matters, London Borough of Lewisham Jay Shaw MBE - Head of Business Development, Snoozebox Stuart Carr - Director, Chapman Taylor Shelagh Grant - Chief Executive, Housing Forum James Pickard - Director, Cartwright Pickard Rory Bergin - Partner - Sustainable Futures, HTA Design Rob Charlton - CEO, Space Group Jerry Harkness - Regional Development Director, Circle Housing

…& many more! To book your place go to

BOOK Ticket prices for the event are listed below: PRIVATE SECTOR DELEGATES One day ticket - £125 + VAT Two day ticket - £225 + VAT PUBLIC SECTOR DELEGATES One day ticket - £95 ++ VAT Two day ticket - £165 + VAT



3 We are undoubtedly seeing increased enthusiasm for the application of offsite construction solutions in many sectors, and in many areas this is linked to a willingness to share new information and knowledge. There is still a long way to go before the various innovative technologies become mainstream construction methods but at least we appear to have reached a stable base, which cannot be said for traditional construction solutions where dependency on site labour is rapidly escalating build costs. Cost controls Offsite construction solutions are becoming increasingly commercially viable, with the cost base in a number of instances at least matching traditional costs, and therefore providing better value for money when we take into account all of the peripheral benefits that the various technology offers. It is clear that economies of scale must be realised for offsite construction to become a truly viable alternative to traditional construction techniques, but there can be no doubt that there is a

groundswell of activity in respect of offsite construction and there is a growing sense that the time is now right to embrace the technology on offer. What is also clear is that there is no single ideal solution – one size definitely does not fit all. The challenge is to develop a strategy that maximises the advances in construction technology and extracts the best out of what is on offer. Knowledge sharing is essential and clients and contractors must learn from manufacturers’ experiences. Most importantly, it is essential that client and contractor expectations in respect of offsite construction be managed, so that the aspirations of the project are not set to unachievable standards. Offsite construction will not solve all the ills of the construction industry, but if an innovative strategy is consistently applied throughout the project process, along with best practice project management techniques, then major benefits will be realised.

To create a focal point for the issues linking housebuilding clients, architects, engineer, contractors and offsite construction product manufacturers, Cogent Consulting has joined forces with Radar Communications to organise a two-day event focusing on the use of offsite construction in the housing sector. The event – Explore Offsite Housing – is to be staged at the Birmingham NEC on 23 and 24 March 2016, and will cover a wide array of issues in the public and private housing sectors, demonstrating how the offsite supply-chain is rising to the challenges being laid down by clients and architects. For more information visit:

The opportunities for offsite manufacture are certainly there, but given the choice will we really want to make all our houses different? Will homebuyers choose to express individual difference, or conform to some norm? Will they choose the excitement of innovation or the comforts of tradition? Where, in the end, is uniformity bred – in your technology or in your head? For more information visit: Images: 01. SIPS Installation – Innovare Systems 02. Timber Frame 03. Kingspan Timber Solutions




OFFSITE MINDSET As the worst of the economic gloom diminishes, interest in offsite manufacturing has gathered pace. Dr Robert Hairstans, Head of Centre for Offsite Construction + Innovative Structures (COCIS), reveals how offsite methods can create a collaborative framework to address issues surrounding skills, culture and innovation. The UK economy finally moved out of recession in the last quarter of 2009 following six consecutive quarters of negative growth due to a global economic downturn (House of Commons Library, 2010). This upturn coincided with the publication of a report by Construction Excellence: ‘Never waste a good crisis: a review of progress since Rethinking Construction and thoughts for our future’, endorsed by Sir Michael Latham (author of Constructing the Team, 1994), Sir John Egan (author of Rethinking Construction, 1998) and Nick Raynsford MP (Construction Minister 1997-2001). The report identifies that prior to the recession, the industry was sheltered for decades by a healthy economy and as such, it was able to prosper without having to strive for innovation. Of course when the recession hit this was not the case and there were numerous casualties as a result.


1 However, as the title of the report suggests, this unfortunate circumstance provided an opportunity to set forth a new vision for construction based on the concept of the ‘built environment’, where value is created over the whole life-cycle of an asset, rather than simply looking at the building cost. To this effect, new business models which incentivise suppliers to deliver quality and sustainability by taking a stake in the long-term performance of a built asset are identified as necessary. Accordingly, it was time at the end of 2009 for change to be driven by the supply side, by it demonstrating how it can create additional economic social and environmental value through innovation, collaboration and integrated working.


Offsite Manufacture – a change in approach So, can offsite offer a solution? If so what are the skills needed to underpin this solution and is there any work being done to address this? And finally what is happening going forward both regionally (Scotland) and internationally? Moving construction to a factory environment requires a change in approach. Rather than project managing a framework of site activities that bring together a range of available contractors and sub-contracts, it requires the management of a production flow process under a factory roof utilising a more localised workforce. Given that offsite






CCG (OSM) Ltd. 2 Drumhead Road, Glasgow East Investment Park Glasgow, G32 8EX Tel: 0141 641 9430 Email:




ROBERT HAIRSTANS construction is conducted within a controlled environment, it lends itself to higher levels of quality control and the concepts of lean manufacturing which include robust communication, and efficient use of resources and elimination of waste. Therefore, offsite has the ability to be more inherently sustainable considering the social, environmental and economic drivers respectively. The factory environment offers a clean place of work with improved health and safety and opportunities for workforce diversification by means of simple things like shift pattern allowance. A more secure supply chain and control of information assists with ensuring the low carbon credentials of specified products. The products can then be formed into systems with minimum waste by means of optimisation and the use of modern manufacturing techniques such as computer numerical controlled (CNC) machines. Further to this, offsite solutions are often more technologically advanced and have increased levels of fabric performance through enhanced specification and reduced cold bridging and air leakage as a consequence of improved tolerances. Tolerance is of particular importance given the efficiencies of offsite are realised by on-site preparatory work, such as the execution of foundations and infrastructure, happening concurrently with the offsite fabrication of the building components. The gains in efficiency through reduced defects, waste and time can help alleviate the perception that offsite is cost prohibitive, particularly if the overall value proposition can be robustly demonstrated and the potential for reduced financing costs and the corresponding ability to accelerate the cash conversion cycle are realised. Offsite construction is therefore different in approach and has been identified as a vehicle for delivering within the UK Government 2025 Construction Strategy (2013). However, it requires a different skillset and a change in culture (UKCES, 2013), with the need for multi-skilling, interdisciplinary collaboration and greater flexibility within a number of job roles (UKCES, 2015). 30

2 Skills and Changing Workforce UKCES invested in offsite construction skills via the UK Future Programme Productivity Challenge 1 in order to design solutions to the workforce requirements identified. The Offsite Hub (Scotland) project, was one of five projects which were funded and was led by Edinburgh Napier University in partnership with CCG (OSM) and Stewart Milne Timber Systems (SMTS) – two of the largest timber frame manufacturers in the UK – with additional academic support from Heriot Watt University given their track record in construction skills research. The project worked towards three key outputs: • Development of bespoke training materials for industry partners. • Development of generic training materials for the use of the wider construction sector. • Scaling up and internationalisation of the Offsite Hub (Scotland). Following the success of the project CCG have implemented an advance offsite training process for their factory operatives and SMTS have launched a training academy at their Whitney facility with an emphasis on the site assembly of their enhanced panelised systems. The industry specific literature, videography and animation training content developed was then spliced with other video captured content and augmented with available information to create ‘Building Offsite: an introduction’. This freely available ‘live pdf’ which has embedded video and animation content, serves as an up-to-date


3 introductory training publication and has been endorsed by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for Continual Professional Development (CPD) purposes. Going forward the collaborative framework of the Scottish Offsite HUB is being further developed and expanded via the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), one of eight Scottish Funded Council (SFC) funded Innovation Centres set up to support industry led innovation. The CSIC Offsite HUB has currently broadened its industry collaborative partners to also include MAKAR Construction, Carbon Dynamic, Alexander Timber Design, Oregon Timber Frame and Scotframe. The now seven industry partners have shaped a strategy for Scottish Offsite in order that it can help meet the future sector UK demand given it is projected to grow from £1.5bn to £6bn (UKCES, 2014). This collaborative framework has the potential to expand further and working with the Innovation Centre and Academia can additionally tap into the wider UK and international offsite network. For more information visit: Building Offsite: an introduction:

Images: 01-03. Courtesy: COCIS, Napier University



CONCRETE Concrete has long been at the heart of robust and durable construction. Elaine Toogood from the MPA – Concrete Centre, picks out some of its many benefits and why it is central to offsite construction.

The versatility of concrete means that it can be designed and constructed to deliver high performance buildings through a spectrum of solutions ranging from onsite cast concrete, onsite build using factory made blocks, through to offsite manufactured two dimensional panels and volumetric units. When considering offsite solutions there are additional benefits offered by the use of precast concrete for offsite construction compared to other systems.


1 The robustness of concrete for example, means that it can be delivered and erected without the need for wrappings and covers to protect it from the elements. Care is required when handling prefabricated elements made of any material to prevent damage, but with robustness comes less risk of damage. Quite apart from the resource and wastage saved, the structural integrity of concrete is not compromised by weather, a significant advantage for construction. Less durable structures will be particularly vulnerable to delayed installation of building enclosure.


Another advantage during construction is concrete’s inherent resistance to fire, avoiding the need for special measures to be installed to reduce the risk of fire spreading during build programmes. As architect or client this provides an immediate solution to meet the health and safety responsibilities set out by recent HSE-endorsed guidance for reducing fire in timber construction. Statistics show that, during occupation, fires are also more likely to be contained in buildings with non-combustible structure, limiting the extent of fire damage to the property. Fire detailing and correct installation of fire stops and barriers are critical, but if major building components have inherent fire resistance the reliance on appropriate detailing and workmanship is reduced.


Precast Finish Precast concrete for housing in the UK historically suffered from an image problem, due in part to the poorly maintained ‘brutal aesthetic’ of much of the mass housing put up in the 1960’s and 1970’s. While new housing is still more likely to be built from concrete than any other material, the concrete is likely to be hidden on the inside of the building, with concrete constructed to higher structural and quality standards. Furthermore, external precast concrete panels, with a range of potentially different aesthetics, are often designed to look more like stone than concrete, hence the name ‘Recon’. The elaborate and elegant examples of precast concrete cladding used for much of the East Village Stratford (formerly the athletes’ village for London Olympics) are a good example and I am sure that many residents are unaware that their buildings are clad in concrete and not stone. The range of finishes available in concrete is very broad, so it is wise to establish the required standard of finish and tolerances required with manufacturers before tender in order to align the clients and designers expectations with the right product or specification. Improved thermal performance requirements have also lead to an evolution in the detailing of housing. To achieve the low air permeability required of current building regulations or Passivhaus standard, designers and constructors now need to pay closer attention to the joints and junctions of a buildings enclosure. This is facilitated by the solid, straight edges of precast panels, around window openings for example. Windows can also be pre-installed and tested in the panels. Since concrete itself is effectively airtight a precast concrete inner leaf offers a simple and durable solution for long term airtightness. Greater thermal insulation is provided and large cold bridges can be simply avoided by continuing insulation over the ends of floor slabs. In the manufacture of insulated sandwich cladding panels, low conductivity connectors are used to tie the two leaves together.

While much of the precast concrete used in construction is part of the structure, and is not on show it can be manufactured to be left exposed as a final finish, either inside or outside a building. Since structure tends to be located inside of the insulation and waterproofing layers, a concrete structure provides the opportunity to ‘design out’ the use of additional internal finishes such as suspended ceilings, wall linings or carpets without compromising the fire, structural and often acoustic requirements. There is a reduction in waste generated by avoiding these subsequent trades. Embodied Carbon Dioxide Exposed concrete on the inside of a building also offers opportunities to utilise its thermal mass. When used as part of a low energy strategy, with adequate ventilation, concrete can help improve internal thermal comfort, reduce the risk of overheating and lower energy bills. This saving in energy can also significantly lower the carbon footprint of the building over its lifetime. When taking into account the savings in embodied CO2 of the avoided finishes and air conditioning and their periodic repair and replacement over the life of the building this adds up to a low whole life carbon solution for buildings using concrete. The Concrete Centre will be launching a new publication at Ecobuild this year, explaining the CO2 saving of concrete through every stage of construction, including manufacture and demolition. Using thermal mass is an excellent way to optimise the use of precast concrete for sustainable construction, but there are also other many sustainability issues worth considering. These include long life, climate change adaption, flood resilience, recyclability and recycled content, local manufacture and local, responsibly sourced materials. For additional information on the inherent sustainable credential of precast concrete refer to ‘Sustainability Matters’ an annual publication by British Precast.

THE CONCRETE CENTRE The Concrete Centre provides material, design and construction guidance to designers. The Concrete Centre’s vision is to make concrete the material of choice and enable all those involved in the design, use and performance of concrete to realise the potential of the material. The Mineral Products Association (MPA) is the trade association for the aggregates, asphalt, cement, concrete, dimension stone, lime, mortar and silica sand industries. With the recent addition of The British Precast Concrete Federation (BPCF) and the British Association of Reinforcement (BAR), it has a growing membership of 480 companies and is the sectoral voice for mineral products.

So concrete is a great starting point when considering material selection for new buildings. It provides advantages during construction as well as offering long term performance benefits for occupants and building owners. For more information visit:

Images: 01. Housing in East Village (former athletes’ village housing for London Olympics) Niall McLaughlin Architects






St Modwen, the regeneration specialist behind the new £450 million Swansea University Bay campus, is delivering an additional £50m of student accommodation and student facilities at the site which opened its doors in September. The accommodation agreement will see 545 additional student apartments for occupation during the first quarter of 2016. Main building contractor Galliford Try was appointed to the contract in 2014 and work commenced on land formerly a BP Distribution Hub in autumn 2015. FP McCann (Bell and Webster) successfully tendered for the supply and install contract on student accommodation buildings 15 & 16 and commenced deliveries of the precast concrete RoomSolution™ modular system late last year. Based on a process where walls, floor and ceiling slabs are linked together to form a unique crosswall construction, the precast panels are factory formed to suit design requirements. In total some 2,400 individual precast units are being installed consisting of walls, floors, stairs and landings. Gable walls and party walls are 160mm thick with each room floor slab 175mm thick. Window and door 34



openings have been accommodated and each bedroom has four conduits cast into the walls for electrics and communications networks.

The new Swansea campus is a major highlight of St. Modwen’s ongoing 3,500 acre regeneration programme across South Wales. The on-going development of the university will create a world-class educational establishment that will benefit students, staff and the local community for generations to come.

All horizontal and vertical sections are designed for ease of build, linking together with hidden tie rods. Joints are finished with a high-strength non-shrink grout and fully conforming with Building Regulations. Walls and ceilings are to a quality fair face finish, allowing for a simple gypsum wash prior to final decoration. Also, 541 individual bathroom pods are being installed as part of the build. The RoomSolution™ system offers excellent acoustic and thermal mass properties as well as fire resistant qualities associated with precast concrete. To date, over 33,000 precast concrete rooms have been manufactured by FP McCann (Bell & Webster) and erected on a variety of projects with one of the most prestigious being the 788 room University of East London campus at Royal Albert Docks. 30 student accommodation projects have been completed nationwide providing nearly 19,000 rooms. On-going contracts include Southampton University and the student accommodation on part of the huge £1billion North West Cambridge development.


Client Swansea University Regeneration Partner St Modwen (Part of a multi partner public/ private funding initiative) Main Contractor Galliford Try RoomSolution™ Installation Contractor FP McCann (Bell and Webster) Value £50 million

For more information visit:

Images: 01-02. Floor slabs being installed 03. RoomSolution, Swansea University

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SPOTLIGHT ON INDUSTRY GROWTH & MARKET PRIORITIES Ecobuild, the UK’s largest show dedicated to construction and energy, returns in March with an increased and in-depth focus on the latest industry trends, challenges and opportunities.

1 The show will provide visitors with access to invaluable industry insights and projections relating to all aspects of the construction sector through a mix of a high-level conference, CPD-accredited learning hubs and more than 800 exhibitors showcasing a wide range of new products, materials, solutions and services. Attracting more than 40,000 industry professionals from across the whole supply chain each year, Ecobuild is the leading exhibition and conference for the UK construction and energy market. It attracts a broad range of visitors from architects to manufacturers, suppliers to installers. The 2016 event will see an evolved proposition for the event to focus on areas of industry growth and market priorities such as housing, infrastructure, next generation innovation, technology and people.

For more information please visit Image: 01. Ecobuild’s main arena


Ecobuild’s Essential Educational Offering Ecobuild 2016 will also feature six CPD-accredited learning hubs: Building Performance, Design, Energy, #BuildCircular, Infrastructure Revolution and Digital Building. A highly-provoking seminar programme, it will provide visitors and exhibitors with the know-how to do their jobs better and the business case to help them make more informed decisions to address future challenges. The programme will be delivered by industry leading figures and organisations including Architype, Glenn Howells Architects, Marks & Spencer, British Land, Jones Lang LaSalle, BRE, ICE, Zero Carbon Hub and Willmott Dixon Energy Services. The #BuildCircular Hub includes a panel session titled ‘What are the benefits of offsite construction for resource efficiency?’, which will feature input from Philip Watson, UK Design Interiors at Atkins, and Simon Ambler, Director at Portakabin. Other sessions include ‘Using less at construction phase – how can this be achieved?’, ‘The Benefits of designing for deconstruction and re-use’ and ‘What principles of the circular economy can be carried across to the built environment?’


Dedicated Days to Homes, Architecture and Next Generation Ecobuild 2016’s high-level conference is split into three daily streams. The first day’s stream of Homes explores the most pressing, divisive and important decisions that the industry must take to deliver comfortable, sustainable, resilient places and homes. What do newbuild and retro-fitted homes and communities need to deliver, and at what cost? The second day focuses on Architecture and looks at the changing role of the architect, the importance of architecture across the built environment, the need for change and some of the most interesting and inspiring architectural projects. The Next Generation day looks to the future: how smart technology, changing demographics and wellness will drive design and construction in the future as well as how to address the skills gap and attract young talent to the industry. Ecobuild’s most exploratory, provocative and inspiring day – it is a must for all those with an interest in ‘what’s next’. Focus on Increasing Resource Efficiency Resource is co-located with Ecobuild. It is devoted to increasing resource efficiency across all aspects of the construction industry and beyond. Resource is unique in its focus and scale, being the largest learning and networking opportunity for businesses and public sector bodies looking to reduce waste and reuse materials, recovering value from what was traditionally ‘waste’. The newly introduced #buildcircular theatre acts as the learning, innovation and networking hub for those interested to explore which circular economy principles could and should be adopted in the built environment, from modular construction, offsite construction, building design, materials lifecycle thinking and construction through to intelligent demolition. Reflecting the construction industry, Ecobuild is constantly evolving; ensuring that it continues to provide relevant and dynamic content. Ecobuild 2016 is co-located with Resource, the leading resource efficiency event, from 8th to 10th March at London’s ExCeL.

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1 Light steel framing is used in offsite construction for a wide range of building types and applications, from hotels to hospitals and homes to offices and light steel framing may be utilised in the form of panelised or volumetric systems. Andrew Way, Associate Director at the Steel Construction Institute (SCI) explains more.

Images: 01. Ayrshire student accommodation 02. Sure Build – Bersondy 03. Steel framing – Leicester



Multi-storey residential buildings is an important market for light steel framing and modular construction. These forms of construction are widely adopted because of the speed of construction, high quality and the high level of sustainability that are achieved through offsite manufacture. Light steel framing and modular construction are load-bearing systems that are suitable for low, medium and high-rise buildings and also in building renovation such as in rooftop extensions. The use of these forms of construction is closely related to the wider benefits that are offered to the developer and the main contractor. Multi-storey buildings up to 10+ storeys high, and mixed-use buildings comprising commercial space or car parking at the lower levels with residential units above are all achievable in light steel framing.


2 Benefits and versatility Some of the key benefits of light steel and modular construction in relation to residential buildings are: • Speed of construction (up to 50% faster than traditional methods) • Excellent performance characteristics e.g. fire resistance, acoustic insulation, and thermal insulation • High level of quality control, accuracy and freedom from shrinkage, reducing call-backs for defects • Light weight for medium-rise and mixed use buildings, in which the residential floors can be supported on a podium level, thereby reducing foundation requirements • Minimum disturbance to the locality during construction, with fewer deliveries; this is particularly advantageous where site constraints may limit the storage space available • Waste recycling in manufacture and reduction of on-site waste • Structural robustness and ability to create long spans and large openings • Use in renovation, such as building extensions, partly due to its light weight and robustness.


Some of the benefits recorded for light steel framing during the BRE SmartLife project were 50% reduction in time to complete envelope, 25% increase in productivity per person, and 25% reduction in waste. The versatility of light steel framing and modular construction is demonstrated by case studies and technical information produced by SCI, through the Light Steel Forum. Construction Details The walls in light steel framing are constructed from load-bearing light steel panels comprising C sections that are generally spaced at 600 mm centres. The C sections are typically 100 mm deep and 1.5 to 2.5 mm thick, depending on their loading (i.e. varying with storey). At the lower levels, C sections are often placed in pairs; single C sections in decreasing thickness are used at the upper levels. The floors are directly supported by the light steel walls, and two types of floor construction are commonly used - light steel floor joists and composite floor slabs. In the first case, the floor joists are 200 to 250 mm deep and span 4 to 6 m between cross-walls (longer spans are achievable with heavier gauge sections). The self-weight of a joisted floor is typically 0.8 kN/m2, including the built up layers used for acoustic separation. In the second case, the composite slab is 150 to 200 mm deep and can span a similar distance, but its selfweight is higher at 3.0 to 4.5 kN/m2. Propping may be required for longer spans. Lateral stability is provided to the structure by load-bearing and braced cross-walls, which are often also designed as separating walls for acoustic insulation and fire resistance purposes. Wall bracing can be flat strap X-bracing or integral K-bracing. If necessary, some elements of structural steel sections can be incorporated into the walls or floors to create longer spans or larger window openings.

Sustainability The sustainability benefits of light steel framing and modular construction are based on the offsite nature of the construction process. These are: • High levels of thermal insulation and airtightness are achieved in light steel framing, and modular construction • The light weight of these construction systems means that self-weight can be reduced by over 70% relative to concrete and block-work construction, with related savings for foundation loads and sizes • Productivity and speed of construction is increased by over 30% which reduces site impacts • Transport is greatly reduced. A single delivery of light steel frames is typically sufficient for three houses • Site safety is improved by a factor or 5 according to HSE statistics due to the offsite construction process • Site waste is virtually eliminated by the use of prefabricated light steel and modular components compared to the industry average wastage of 10% in construction materials • Use of components rolled to length results in no production waste • Embodied carbon in the building fabric is reduced by up to 20% when using light steel framing and modular construction • Renewable energy technologies can be attached to and built-in the light steel and modular components • Light steel structures can be modified and extended easily. Modular units can be dis-assembled and re-used • Light steel and modular construction are widely used in building extensions and in renovation, due to their light weight and speed of installation. For further information visit:






According to the 2014 NBS National BIM Report, 54% of UK construction professionals used BIM on at least one of their projects, whilst 93% of those who know about BIM believe they will be using it in three years’ time. As the awareness of BIM is now widely spread, the challenge is for the whole industry to get up to speed on the BIM learning curve, and really understand what BIM can do for them. Challenges so far have mainly been due to the absence of collaboration in the construction team and its supply chain.

1 How is BIM (Building Information Modelling) changing the future of construction – turning visions into reality? Richard Allen, Marketing and Business Development Director at voestalpine Metsec plc, describes how it can be done. BIM is no longer considered as the up and coming force in construction and building design, it is now the present and the future. The Government’s 2011 BIM strategy announced its intention to require mandatory collaborative 3D BIM on all central government funded projects by 2016, yet some parts of the industry are still getting to grips with certain aspects of the legislation. So why does the Government see this as so important? Ultimately, BIM is driven by a desire to improve efficiency within the industry and provide a universal modelling system that improves both construction and the management of buildings. What exactly is BIM and how is it changing construction projects? As a concept that was first invented way back in 1970 as a way of pooling and sharing information between contractors – BIM is finally benefitting from the modern technology required to catch up with the original idea. BIM enables architects and contractors to go far beyond the previous 40

two-dimensional drawings that formed a project. Now, elements such as design, time, manufacturing and cost can all be factored into the building information model – meaning that BIM represents not just geometry, but conjures a projected reality that is shared with the different professionals and disciplines involved in a construction project. From a project planning perspective, BIM has become remarkably useful. Similarly, the model of information created can be shared, amended and updated from the design team to contractor, subcontractor and operator – ensuring that no aspect of design and planning can be overlooked, as well as providing a system of ensuring that all team members are working to the same standards as one another. How on track is the UK when it comes to rolling out BIM for 2016? As the BIM 2016 deadline arrives, there have been increasing doubts amongst construction professionals over whether the UK will be able to meet the government target. A recent survey found that 71% of respondents believed that the industry would not be BIM ready by 2016. The main reason for this is believed to be the lack of understanding of BIM throughout the entire supply chain, causing a non-collaborative approach.


In order to meet the 2016 deadline, it is important that software vendors and data providers work to encourage every strand of the construction industry to work together to make BIM happen ensuring that easy to use software is being created,. However, it is also important to remember that BIM is not purely about the software – it’s a cultural change within the construction industry. At voestalpine Metsec, we’re committed to working together with every aspect of the construction process to ensure that the BIM process can be applied as transparently as possible. BIM has grown to become an integral part of our service offering and we make use of its crossfunctional properties to ensure we deliver engineered solutions for the main contractor through accuracy and zero-waste. The UK construction industry is large and complex and many see it as slow in adopting change. Many of the principles of BIM are already being implemented in projects across the building industry, but to set a consistent standard for project delivery and operational performance, it must be utilised by the entire industry to ensure we’re all working to the same high standards. For more information visit:

Images: 01. BIM rendering - City Gateway




Offsite factory-manufactured timber frame structures are precision engineered at speed and a comparatively low cost. Andrew Carpenter, Chief Executive of the Structural Timber Association (STA), discusses the advantages of choosing timber frame for construction, highlighting its inherent strength, durability and sustainability.

The use of timber in construction has advanced considerably since its earliest inception as a cottage industry. Whilst methods of timber framing have drastically changed over this time period, the appeal of timber as a construction material endures. In its modern guise, utilising offsite building methods and engineered timber products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glulam, has been adopted as a viable material for use in buildings across the country. In fact, timber frame currently accounts for around a quarter of new homes in the UK.

Additionally, a factory-based environment ensures safer working conditions for employees. As one of the UK’s largest employers, the construction industry has a responsibility to improve its health and safety record. Offsite construction doesn’t carry the same height risks as construction carried out onsite and is not weather reliant. This is a huge benefit given our changeable climate. Using offsite construction methods, strong winds, heavy rain and below freezing conditions has no effect on workers which leads to safer, better quality and more efficient production.

Also, timber is a readily available material that can easily meet industry demands. Brick and block supply have recently suffered supply shortages and when a material is in short supply, a premium is placed on its price. There is also an alarming shortage of bricklayers within the UK construction sector, with a recent Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) survey revealing 6 out of 10 respondents have difficulty in finding bricklayers for projects. This not only leads to increased supply costs but also an additional negative financial impact due to delays.

Improving the Image of Construction Improvements in time, safety, cost, availability and sustainability make timber the ideal choice for building projects. Structural timber, manufactured offsite, can be monitored at every stage of its construction and is not reliant on a multitude of other trades and factors. Frames are constructed in a controlled and precise manner using the latest industry methods and technology. Timber frame incorporates such innovations as insulation and vapour controlled layers to increase durability and advanced breathable membranes with thermal, acoustic and fire protection inbuilt into the timber’s design.

Cost Benefits Furthermore, there are a multitude of cost benefits associated with building timber frame structures offsite. For example, offsite construction helps ensure that architects’ plans are strictly adhered to, presenting the truest likeness to the original design. This means that there are fewer modifications to designs and unexpected financial costs are not incurred.

Sustainability in Mind One of the most prominent and topical issues in the construction industry is sustainability. With that in mind, timber with its low heat conductivity and high structural strength is a natural choice for architects and specifiers. A Committee on Climate Change (CCC) study found that buildings account for one third of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions. Furthermore, the embodied energy associated with the construction of buildings account for approximately 15% of the total energy usage, while heating and lighting through the life of the building account for approximately 83%.




2 Buildings made from structural timber provide low embodied energy frames that help minimise in-service energy requirements over the buildings lifetime. Additionally, offsite timber frame, with its swift construction and minimal waste is extremely energy efficient. Structural timber’s low heat conductivity, low embodied carbon, high structural strength, airtight construction and traceable supply chain make it an ideal choice for any building contractors with sustainability in mind. The issue of sustainability and energy efficient construction is an important consideration for the industry, as evidenced by the STA’s endorsement of a ‘Fabric First’ approach, which prioritises the insulation and airtightness of the building over an above more costly renewable energy or heating systems.

Solving the Housing Crisis With all these benefits of timber frame construction, it is clear that timber is a material that can help ease the current housing shortage crisis. David Cameron’s announcement in January that the Government will directly commission the construction of 30,000 homes shows the urgency with which the Government wants to arrest this perennial problem. However, whilst there is added emphasis on cost and speed of delivery, the issue of quality must not be overlooked. The STA believes that an increase in the construction of timber frame houses could provide a cost effective solution to the UK’s housing shortage, enabling the construction of more homes to a better quality. Timber frame, as well as being the quickest, most sustainable and cost effective method of erecting weathertight buildings, also offers strength and durability due to its quality-controlled, precision-engineered, offsite construction. For more information visit:

A NEW MARKET REPORT FOR THE STRUCTURAL TIMBER ASSOCIATION (STA) POINTS TO A RECOVERING HOUSEBUILDING SECTOR With the timber frame market share forecast to grow to record levels by 2017. Key statistics showed a market share of nearly 25% for timber frame in new housing in the UK in 2014 was the highest level of participation that timber frame has achieved – ever. Timber frame is set to grow its market share to 27% by 2017. Also, growth of timber frame building in England has raised market share in England to its highest ever level, standing at 18.5% of in 2014. Market share in Scotland increased a little in 2015 to stand at just over 76% of all new homes.

Images: 01-02. Images courtesy of the STA






1 Panmure Street is a project immediately to the north of the Firhill Basin on the Forth and Clyde Canal and provides a variety of house types. The development is led by CCG (Scotland) Ltd with the assistance of the Group’s sub-division, CCG OSM. CCG (Scotland) Ltd and CCG OSM were challenged with constructing 108 new homes on a brownfield site North of Glasgow City Centre. This is a landmark development for the CCG Group as it utilises the full CCG offsite package offering a fully closed panel timber solution inclusive of insulation, services, windows, doors and external cladding. Each stage of the offsite process was undertaken in CCG OSM’s 130,000 sqft facility, a semi-automated production line with only minimal external on-site fabric work required. The new properties will be offered in a variety of tenures, including social rent, sale through the shared equity scheme, and for mid-market rent/private sale. The Panmure Street project is located on a brownfield site formerly used as an industrial hub for the city of Glasgow with a sawmill, chemical works and iron works. The design of the development is to provide housing that gives a modern interpretation of the old tenement buildings that still 44

line the area. This involved the style of the homes as well as the materials used. The offsite approach bypassed the need for traditional materials to provide a product that met with both the design aspirations of the council (brick aesthetic) and the environmental aspirations of producing a housing development that able to achieve 2010 Building Standards. The CCG OSM IQ4 Enhanced panel solution was able to achieve both whilst still providing absolute versatility to meet the needs of the client and the end user. What offsite construction has done is allowed for flexibility to meet specific design requirements whilst also providing environmentally friendly housing with an external wall U-Value of 0.15 and an airtightness of 3 ACH. Health and safety standards have also been well met by offsite. With only one site access it was crucial to have a potent traffic management system in place as well as a construction management system that catered to the delivery of the panels and the site team. This also project represents the second time the innovative Alumasc Brick Slip technology has been used. This external cladding replicates a


3 brick façade that has an A2 resistance fire rating and is fully BBA-accredited. Each individual brick slip is applied by hand by a dedicated six man team within the OSM facility insuring consistency and accuracy. The process of application overall may be time consuming in the first instance but the time spent on site is vastly reduced because of this. Due to the accuracy of the offsite process then, when on site, there are fewer defects and fewer trade interfaces. This process then has the multiplier effect upon pollution (emissions, noise) from transport as well thus reducing the environmental impact. The biggest advantage was the delivery of the housing. The closed panel timber system was developed fully offsite with the exception of minimal site external works. The process of manufacturing factoryfinished panels has vastly decreased the amount of time spent onsite reducing costs and environmental pressures and contributed to a construction programme of 70 weeks. For more information visit: Images: 01-02.Panmure Street project, Glasgow 03. Alumasc Ventilated System



Fit one board, do two jobs – VapAirTight SmartPly VapAirTight is the structural sheathing OSB for low-energy, passive design timber frame constructions. Combines air tight structural strength with integral vapour control layer. • Air tight OSB panel – essential for low-energy buildings • Integral vapour control layer – eliminates the need for additional membranes • Rigid panel – easy to install

To find out more or request a product sample, visit or call 01322 424900.


OFFSITE AWARDS 2015 THE YEAR’S BEST IN CLASS PUBLIC SECTOR PROJECT OF THE YEAR Nearly 200 leaders and innovators from across the offsite construction sector gathered at the Inmarsat Conference Centre, London, on Tuesday 1 December 2015, for the inaugural Offsite Awards. The prestigious award ceremony truly made its mark on the offsite sector, rewarding outstanding projects, innovative products and dynamic people promoting excellence in offsite construction across the UK. Awards Host and Head of the judging panel, Darren Richards of leading offsite consultancy, Cogent, said of the night: “I am proud to have played a part in the inaugural Offsite Awards. I have been blown away by the breadth and quality of entries received. It is truly inspiring to see so much activity in the sector and to witness so many boundaries being pushed. The depth of expertise across all categories was impressive and the exceptional number of entries clearly demonstrates the upturn in the industry – placing the Offsite Awards as a high point in the annual construction events calendar.”


Allford Hall Monaghan Morris & Maccreanor Lavington Architects for William Street Quarter

THE FULL LIST OF 2015 AWARD WINNERS WERE: • Best Use of Concrete

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Allford Hall Monaghan Morris & Maccreanor Lavington Architects for William Street Quarter Best Use of Steel EOS Facades for the Barn, University of Nottingham Best Use of Timber Arup Associates & B&K Structures for the Sky Believe in Better Building Best Hybrid Construction Project Engenuiti for the CUBE Building Best Use of Volumetric Technology Urban Splash for hoUSe Best Use of MEP Prefabrication NG Bailey for Birmingham New Street Station Housing Project of the Year HTA Design LLP for the Felda Housing Scheme Commercial/Retail Project of the Year Arup Associates for the Sky Believe in Better Building Public Sector Project of the Year Allford Hall Monaghan Morris & Maccreanor Lavington Architects for William Street Quarter Infrastructure Project of the Year Wiehag GmbH, the Crossrail Station for Canary Wharf Product Innovation Award Enviga Geothermal for Thermo Screw Pile Offsite Professional of the Year Bryden Wood Winner of Winners Engenuiti & Hawkins/Brown & X-LAM Alliance for the CUBE Building, Banyan Wharf


Allford Hall Monaghan Morris & Maccreanor Lavington Architects for William Street Quarter The second phase of William Street Quarter is the first totally privately funded affordable social housing scheme in the UK. Three mews streets lined with family-sized brick terrace houses define the perimeter of the site once occupied by the notorious Lintons Estate, while a central 10-storey tower terminates a mansion-block lined boulevard. Horizontally-banded precast concrete panels (a continuation of Laing O’Rourke’s Design for Manufacture and Assembly solution and a positive challenge to the stigmatisation of prefabricated housing) define the upper levels of the tower and mansion blocks, with projecting balconies, deep reveals and generouslysized windows helping to break down their mass. Variegated brick – used robustly – is the common uniting material on all lower levels. The first phase of the same masterplan produced jointly with Maccreanor Lavington for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham with private sector partner Laing O’Rourke is the already complete Anne Mews.

The new word for offsite To reflect our expanding range of offsite products and improved services, we have changed our brand name from IG GRP to IG Elements. Discover our range of offsite solutions on or contact our design team on 01283 552205.

OFFSITE AWARDS 2015 B & K Structures: “We had a fabulous evening and were delighted to receive this award which demonstrates the continued success of the BSkyB project. A fantastic climax to what has been an outstanding year.”


BEST USE OF TIMBER Arup Associates for the Sky Believe in Better Building

Engenuiti for the CUBE Building



EOS Facades for the Barn, University of Nottingham Engenuiti & Hawkins/Brown & X-LAM Alliance for the CUBE Building The CUBE Building is a unique 10 storey residential development that pushes the boundaries of timber and hybrid buildings through its innovative twisted design, complex geometry and concrete, steel and timber construction. Architect’s Hawkins\ Brown took a basic cruciform shape which provided four courtyard communities for residents and then twisted every second floor to ensure all the flats had dual or triple aspect views and generous terraces. See Page 54 for a more detailed look at this fantastic project through the eyes of the X-LAM Alliance.


The £9 million, three-storey amenities building at The University of Nottingham, known as ‘The Barn’ unites the dining hall, bar, student services and social spaces whilst still maintaining aesthetic appeal and complementing the rural landscape. The building is a combination of functionality and visual appeal. EOS Facades were appointed as the steel supplier by client Grantham Ceilings and Interiors. The EOS Facades product was selected due to its credibility (ISO 9001 accreditation and CE Marked), combined with EOS Facades’ ability to use leading edge technology to precision engineer pre-assembled steel solutions to exacting requirements. This project illustrates how offsite manufactured steel has been used to bring true value to the project delivery team and ultimately the end users, the students and staff of the University.


Arup Associates & B&K Structures for the Sky Believe in Better Building Sky’s own sustainability strategy shaped the buildings philosophy. An engineered timber industrial system was specified as it allows for rapid assembly and offers excellent airtightness through insulated panel facades. The solid timber frame was able to meet the natural look and feel that Sky required and timber cassettes were again able to offer the low thermal resistance and high airtightness that the structure demanded to meet the challenging design brief. The system took the form of a glulam frame with visible grade CLT panels providing core stability to the walls and floors, which were left largely exposed within the finished structure. The building features a green roof with a CLT structure, covered with PV Panels and sedum. The timber cassettes were used to erect the walls, ranging from 0.7m – 2.5m in width to 1.5m – 12.5m in length to accommodate the window arrangement.

EOS Facades: “It’s fantastic to win the best use of steel category at this inaugural event– especially taking into consideration the calibre of the competition. These awards provide a fantastic platform to showcase the benefits of offsite construction.”

OFFSITE AWARDS 2015 BEST USE OF MEP PREFABRICATION Bryden Wood: “I thoroughly enjoyed the Offsite Awards 2015 event – it was a great showcase for the wealth of offsite solutions that are being developed in every sector of the industry. To see so many forward-thinking companies represented gave an inspiring insight into what the future industry might look like.”


Urban Splash for hoUSe hoUSe is Urban Splash’s new residential concept which will revolutionise the UK’s attitudes to housing. Buyers can configure their home as they want it – they’ll choose a size (either 1000sqft or 1500sqft) and then pick the arrangement of spaces within the house and make selections from a range of specifications as they go through the purchase process. All homes will also have a secure parking space and a garden. hoUSe, New Islington is designed by shedkm, the award-winning architects behind Chimney Pot Park in Salford and MoHo in Castlefield, Manchester. hoUSe was conceived to bring real choice to home buyers and to bring some aspects of self-build to a wider appeal without the need to project manage or have a limitless budget to fund the construction. hoUSe is an: “awesome, newbuild, terraced house, in the city – your house, how you want it, right where you want it.”


NG Bailey for Birmingham New Street Station The pioneering re-development at Birmingham New Street station sees a green energy solution helping to reduce the carbon footprint of the country’s second city and its busy rail interchange. The project permits the distribution of waste heat to new buildings on the re-developed site and connects the northern and southern district heating loops of Birmingham to create a green heating plan. A Combined Heat and Power (CHP) link has been developed and installed by NG Bailey Offsite Manufacture at the new station, using just over 1km of pre-insulated pipework. A new CHP unit has been installed to harness excess energy produced by the station. The captured waste energy is distributed along the newly installed pipework to supply heat and hot water to buildings across the entire city. This project saw NG Bailey join forces with Network Rail, and contractors including Cofely, Atkins and Mace, in addition to Birmingham City Council. This innovative partnership implemented one of the first sustainable solutions of its kind in Europe, potentially cutting carbon emissions by up to 3,000 tonnes per year when combined with the wider city scheme.

Urban Splash: “We were delighted to win this award – one of our first for hoUSe. We are thrilled that the industry recognises the exciting, sustainable modular housing concept we are introducing.”

HTA Design LLP for the Felda Housing Scheme The Felda House scheme provides strong evidence that modular construction can deliver great buildings faster, safer and can meet demanding economic and environmental targets. The 19-storey building, quality of finish, robustness (60 year design life) and aesthetic appearance was not constrained by the use of a volumetric system. The modules provide all the living accommodation and were installed with a single tower crane from a podium slab and clad without the need for scaffold. Module installation peaked at 44 modules per week. The modules are 100% of the building footprint on most floors and came fully fitted (with kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms fitted) which reduced on-site tasks delivering a 450 bed accommodation project in 13 months. Felda House will achieve BREAM Excellent through building fabric detailing, (all dynamically modelled) combined with a CHP plant and renewables. Felda House was delivered to budget and proves the benefits of closer and earlier design/manufacturer/contractor integration facilitated by BIM technology.

HTA Design: “HTA are very proud of our work on offsite construction and think that it shows the way forward for the delivery of high quality housing projects, and we delighted that the judges agreed.”






Wiehag GmbH for the Crossrail Station for Canary Wharf

Enviga Geothermal for Thermo Screw Pile (TSP)

Bryden Wood for pioneering offsite innovation

Wiehag designed, supplied and installed the stunning glulam timber grid shell roof over The Crossrail Station at Canary Wharf in London. With a roof area of 14,000m2 and the largest value of any glulam project to date in the UK, the sheer size and complexity of this 300 metre long glulam grid shell roof makes it stand out as an exemplar project. Regarded as one of the most influential modern timber structures in the UK, this stunning Foster + Partners designed structure has already become an iconic addition to the London skyline, and has become the most used image to represent the success of the whole Crossrail project. Wiehag’s huge package finished on budget, ahead of schedule, with zero RIDDOR’s and to a quality that delighted the client and their team. Wiehag overcame numerous challenges to successfully delivery their package, ranging from making double curved timber members to constructing a roof which cantilevers 30m out over the water.

Enviga Geothermal provides geothermal energy solutions based on screw piles acting as both building foundations and thermal energy collectors/dissipators, part of a renewable energy heating system. Following seven years of R&D, it has international patents to protect its key innovation, the Thermo Screw Pile (TSP). TSPs provide an Underground Thermal Energy Store (UTES), linking to a multisource heat pump to allow recharge of excess heat from other renewable sources such as solar thermal and Mechanical Ventilation & Heat Recovery (MVHR), and providing high coefficients of performance (CoP). Enviga’s patented concrete-free TSP foundation system is ideally suited to offsite forms of construction: it reduces construction time, saves cost and maximises operating energy-efficiencies thereafter, so ‘Near-Zero Carbon’ buildings can be built for similar CaPex to less-efficient current standards. TSPs can be installed to laser-level accuracy and, with GPS, no setting-out is required.

Bryden Wood have delivered a deliver huge diversity of projects and have worked in sectors including aviation, pharmaceutical, residential, healthcare, custodial and infrastructure. They have developed a variety of solutions that demonstrates the full spectrum of offsite systems: modular, flat-pack, componentised and system-build. In addition, the clients for whom they have developed solutions include public sector bodies and government departments, private sector companies and developers plus major contractors. Bryden Wood has continued to expand the capability of BIM and digital delivery through virtual prototyping and construction and ‘data driven components’ to facilitate the adoption of offsite, and their work with governments and organisations such as the RIBA are allowing them to promote offsite from the highest levels of planning and policy making.


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Judged to be the outstanding project at the Offsite Awards 2015 and one of the most talked about buildings in the UK last year, the 10-storey residential development at Banyan Wharf – also known as The CUBE – has been gaining plaudits everywhere. Constructed for Regal Homes, the architect Hawkins\Brown took a basic cruciform shape which provided four courtyard communities for residents and then twisted every second floor to ensure all the apartments had dual or triple aspect views and generous terraces. The complex geometry of the building required it to be constructed as a hybrid cross laminated timber (CLT) and steel structure. This unique development pushes the boundaries of hybrid construction through an innovative twisted design, complex geometry and concrete, steel and timber structure. Situated within the London borough of Hackney, the ten storeys development took the title of the tallest cross laminated timber residential building in Europe in 2015. As a groundbreaking project, Banyan Wharf is 54

one of the most important residential buildings in London, providing 50 one, two and three-bedroom apartments – all sold by Regal Homes off plan, prior to completion. The X-LAM Alliance used timber technology as the core structural component. Timber was the preferred option for the build due to Hackney’s commitment to creating more sustainable buildings. CLT wall and floor panels up to 200mm thick and weighing up to four tonnes, were delivered to the site with all openings pre-cut, allowing them to be lifted straight into position, which was a huge advantage when working on such a restricted site. Mark Bryan, Construction Director at Regal Homes, said: “We’re proud to be pioneering the use of CLT in


the residential property market in London and already breaking records internationally. Banyan Wharf is the tallest CLT structure in Europe to date and our forthcoming development in Dalston Lane will be the largest residential CLT structure of its kind in the world.” Designing and building medium rise apartments in London takes rigorous planning – tight site access and limited space, together with the proximity of neighbouring buildings, can create challenges. In order to overcome the restricted site issues, detailed delivery programmes were established from the outset. Utilising the uppermost completed levels of the building as a storage platform overcame a lack of space, keeping materials off the ground and secure pre-build, while offering the additional advantage of reduced crane lifts. “As a company we strive to be innovators in the design and development of cross laminated timber structures,” said Greg Cooper, Engineering Manager for the X-LAM Alliance. “Banyan Wharf is a huge achievement for all construction partners and an outstanding example of how cross laminated timber can be used to best effect in medium rise applications.”

BANYAN WHARF CLT provides five key benefits – speed, strength, sustainability, safety and cost certainty. Speed of construction is achieved by offsite precision engineering for onsite installation. This, in turn, makes project planning less weather dependant, more predictable and therefore reduces programme risk. Rapid large panel construction allows internal works to be carried out earlier, making the critical path operate more smoothly for follow on trades. This improves construction and project delivery time, and offers a faster return on investment. The strength of CLT comes from the form of the material. It is manufactured by stacking layers of timber at 90° angles to the previous layer. The layers are laminated together to produce robust structural panels, suitable for roofs, walls and floors. Due to the large bearing area, CLT delivers an extremely high axial load, with the strength to resist horizontal loads. The key is in the strength to weight ratio of the engineered timber, which is crucial when building in London with its complex underground infrastructure of services. With the development of Banyan Wharf, CLT now has proven multi-storey capability of up to 10 storeys and a structural capacity beyond this. Cross laminated timber is the ideal medium rise solution and reduces the need for remedial post construction work, because the material has very little shrinkage or movement.


The hybrid structural solution comprises concrete for the basement, ground floor and central service shaft, steel box sections for the internal columns and beams and CLT panels providing vertical load-bearing walls and transfer structures for the intricate twisted structure. Timber is the leading renewable mainstream construction material – renowned for creating greener buildings and delivering unchallenged carbon offset in high volume construction products. The X-LAM Alliance are dedicated to applying ‘best practice’ sustainability principles through all aspects of their processes – from raw material procurement through to manufacture, offsite processes and onsite installation. Sustainability is now a prerequisite within the construction industry and having PEFC or FSC Chain of Custody Certification ensures projects maintain a fully transparent and consistent green supply chain. The benefits delivered by CLT include the minimisation of onsite disruption together with improved onsite health and safety and the reduction of working at height. The systems have BOPAS accreditation, which provides assurances to the lending community that structures will deliver a consistent performance over 60 years. As designers, manufacturers and constructors, B & K Structures, the UK partner of the X-LAM Alliance,

DESIGN TEAM AND PROJECT INFORMATION Architects: Hawkins\Brown Architects Planning Consultant: Signet Planning Structural Engineers: Pringuer James Consulting Engineers Main Contractor: Eurobuild CLT Subcontractor: B & K Structures CLT Engineer: Engenuiti Sustainability Consultant: JS Lewis Ltd Transport Consultant: i-Transport

has been rigorously audited and BOPAS-approved to maintain the highest levels of quality assurance throughout the process, ensuring construction systems are sanctioned for integrity, durability and performance. Cost certainty is a crucial factor to developers and affordable housing providers. The use of CLT eliminates programme and financial uncertainties, making changes to the design of the structural frame the only factor that can increase costs. CLT is pioneering building construction and with Banyan Wharf already breaking records, the only way is up for this sustainable, cost effective solution. For more information: technical//mediumrise.pdf

X-LAM ALLIANCE B & K Structures and Binderholz formed the X-LAM Alliance in 2011 bringing to the UK construction market a seamless and consistent way to supply CLT. From concept to completion, the Alliance has all the essential knowledge and data to create solid wood structures from design through to installation. B&K Structures has pioneered the use of structural timber in the UK, creating award winning buildings in retail, commercial, residential, transport, sports and leisure and healthcare sectors. Binderholz is an Austrian specialist timber manufacturing organisation with five production plants across the country. In 2012 Binderholz produced the most CLT in the world. For more information visit:

Images: 01. Banyan Wharf residential development 02. CLT installation




MATERIAL MIX The second phase of William Street Quarter is the first totally privately funded affordable social housing scheme in the UK. Produced jointly by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and Maccreanor Lavington Architects, it showcased an award-winning, hybrid approach to offsite delivery. Three mews streets lined with family-sized brick terrace houses define the perimeter of the site once occupied by the notorious Lintons Estate, while a central 10-storey tower terminates a mansion-block lined boulevard. The masterplan was delivered over two phases, with Anne Mews (phase 1) completed in 2011 and William Street Quarter (phase 2) completed in 2014 for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham (LBBD) with their private sector partner Laing O’Rourke (LOR).


1 Horizontally-banded and patterned precast concrete panels (a continuation of LOR’s Design for Manufacture and Assembly solution and a positive challenge to the stigmatisation of prefabricated housing) define the tower and mansion blocks, with projecting balconies, deep reveals and generously-sized windows helping to break down their mass. A high quality variegated brick was selected as the main cladding material for the mews houses. Individuality has been achieved by the use of colour and alternative finishes to the mews houses, tower and mansion blocks, with varying colours to entrances, pattern and balconies providing an enhanced sense of place for tenants.


The first phase of the same masterplan produced jointly with Maccreanor Lavington for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, with private sector partner Laing O’Rourke, is the already complete Anne Mews. The second phase is the first totally privately funded affordable social housing scheme in the UK and provides 201 new homes for social rent. It is the first new council housing scheme to be developed in Barking for over a quarter of the century providing homes for the forgotten ‘generation rent’.



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HYBRID OFFSITE – WILLIAM STREET QUARTER By using LOR’s DFMA system from the outset over 90% of above ground components (floors, walls, cores and facades) could be delivered using offsite manufactured concrete components for the mansion block and towers. Approximately 70% of all components, including plant and services on the project have been offsite manufactured. The construction programme was reduced from a traditional build of 27 to 18 months, representing a nine month/30% saving. The first units were handed over within a year of start on site enabling revenue streams from rents to be generated earlier than using traditional build.



A high degree of innovation and emphasis on offsite preassembly helped reduce the construction programme to 17 months. The large blocks are a full DfMA solution. In this innovative building technology, concrete superstructure is manufactured offsite, arriving to site as a series of components that can be assembled. Similarly, precast concrete cladding panels arrive on site with windows already installed. The external balconies are then clipped to the façade panels on site prior to being lifted into position and bolted to the frame. The mews houses were constructed using an offsite timber framing system clad in a single layer of traditional brick, with roof structures being assembled on the ground and then lifted into place.

Through integrated, multi-disciplinary design, pre-insulated panels were optimised, pre-tested and delivered to site with windows pre-installed and interfaces detailed to achieve the high airtightness specification. These passive design measures alone achieve a 23% improvement over a Part L 2010 ‘in use’ baseline (this includes a carbon allowance for small power and equipment.) This equates to a 33% improvement over the Part L Target Emission Rate for regulated energy, achieving the required 25% for Code Level 4. In summary, the scheme performs 23% better than an identical Part L 2010 compliant scheme before the incorporation of any low or zero carbon technologies. This represents a significant reduction in energy consumption and building running costs over the life of the development. The outstanding fabric performance and building airtightness were a direct result of the offsite design and manufacturing capability of LOR.

Images: 01. View from Tower looking over the Mews houses 02. View of the Tower 03. Shared courtyard to the Mansion blocks All Photos © Timothy Soar



The fabric performance of the dwellings was exceptional. A 25% reduction in energy emissions on Building Regulations requirements was realised through design and high system performance of the envelope. The prefabricated single skin reconstituted stone facade delivered an outstandingly airtight building. An integrated multi-discipline BIM model helped to streamline the design and co-ordination process whilst informing the assembly sequence and procurement process. The model was also utilised when presenting design options to the client team or other stake holders. Utilising the 3D model environment, LOR’s team inhouse delivery strategy, connected all members of the supply chain enabling a holistic and integrated design process which led to a well-co-ordinated design prior to manufacture. Following the successful collaboration between LOR, AHMM and LBBD on Dagenham Park School, the team were able to build on their existing relationships and apply their knowledge and experience of LOR’s Design for Manufacture and Assembly system on William Street Quarter. The benefits of offsite construction in programme and quality were evident in Dagenham Park and a key project objective became to maximise use of offsite construction to deliver high quality housing quickly. For more information visit: www.


1 The Borough of Poole awarded The McAvoy Group responsibility for the design and construction of Ocean Academy Junior School with an offsite, modular approach reaping huge rewards. Designed to meet growing local demand for education spaces, McAvoy Group had the responsibility for design and construction with fasttrack delivery and national offsite targets key factors on the Borough’s procurement agenda. McAvoy employed a client partnering approach throughout the project, particularly during the pre-construction phase with a focus on stakeholder early engagement to develop a design that maximised offsite modular potential without compromising end-user needs. The specification of offsite technology was identified as a key requisite in the Borough’s procurement strategy to deliver their commitment towards achievement of national construction 2025 targets as set out by the last Government. Designed with standardised grids and room layouts and further supplemented with offsite external wall panels to the traditional frame. The building was installed onsite over a five day period. McAvoy implemented industry best practice initiatives including BIM technology and pre-commissioning arrangements to successfully deliver project realisation in 62 weeks from initial appointment.



2 McAvoy ensured offsite technology was a major element from the outset via volumetric focused design. Careful and well planned layouts allowed 90% of the structure to be manufactured in offsite modules with only the remaining 10% of the structure designed for large halls and open-plan space to be constructed using traditional steel frame. Pre-fabricated external wall panels were also used to complete the traditional frame envelope further adding to the use of offsite technology on the project. This design process involved the use of BIM modelling which allowed our engineers and designers to provide greater levels of accuracy particularly in terms of service layouts and detailing. With a maximised modular design and a project delivered on-time and in-budget, this project clearly demonstrated how the use of offsite innovation can meet the needs of the client without effecting quality. Of particular note when benchmarking against a traditional approach is the faster delivery time witnessed. With a hybrid frame in use on his project, the programme benefits of offsite where visible in the speed of both frame installation and following fit-out with the traditional section lagging greatly With a large proportion of work carried out in McAvoy’s purpose-built factory, greater safety control and working conditions where possible affording the project with an

accident/incident rate much lower than the national average. The BIM models used to provide maximum offsite production have ensured service layouts are functional and easily accessed and the external envelope is easily accessed without the need for mobile plant where possible to further reduce cost. McAvoy Group achieved the Client’s desire for a fast-track delivery programme by adopting a ‘front loaded’ pre-construction process that required the client and their stakeholders to form part of an integrated project team. This collaborative working arrangement enabled key decisions to be made early leading to a completed design and firm cost certainty prior to offsite/ onsite construction commencing – a position not commonly encountered in D&B contracts. Through careful planning and committed management, the project was completed on time and on budget to the satisfaction of the client, their end users and the wider community For more information visit:

Images: 01-02. Academy Exterior: Courtesy McAvoy Group




OFFSITE CONSTRUCTION – WHERE IS IT GOING? There has never been a better time to develop the offsite industry. It is in a sweet spot where traditional construction is under tremendous pressure from several directions simultaneously. Rory Bergin, Head of Sustainable Futures at HTA Design, describes where the industry could be heading.

1 At HTA we are working with a number of modular and offsite companies developing prototypes for factory production, building buildings that are largely factory-made, designing new schemes for private rental that can be modularised or prefabricated from the beginning. Within the space of five years, prefabricated buildings have gone from being an idea that we devoted a lot of time to promoting, to now being a substantial part of our workload. We have completed four major projects where prefabrication played a major role, including one 60

of the largest zero-carbon schemes in the UK and three buildings up to 19-storeys high in London. All of these were completed either ontime with few defects, or up to a year earlier than comparable buildings of the same size. For a rental building, being able to complete a year earlier has a major impact on the viability of the development and trumps most other considerations, which is why so many of our rental projects are either considering this approach seriously,


or have already moved away from traditional construction methods. The major benefits of volumetric units, apart from the speed of delivery, is that the rooms come complete, with all the fixed elements installed. Depending on the agreement, manufacturers can install all fixed items in the rooms before delivery, including built-in furniture, light fittings and all finishes. The windows and doors are usually installed as the modules are sufficiently stiff to protect them during lifting.

VOLUMETRIC CONSTRUCTION those mistakes. The product from the factory must be appropriate and of high quality, or else there is little point in constructing it.

2 In our experience it is possible to install a half-dozen modules per crane per day, which is the equivalent of a pair of two-bedroom apartments. While the groundworks, cladding and roof elements are all substantial pieces of work and are rarely prefabricated, this speed makes a radical difference to the construction sequence. When you add to these considerations, the fact that the construction workforce in the UK is at, or near to full capacity and that there is not going to be an influx of workers to fill low-skilled roles as has happened in the past, using factory production makes sense as a way of doing more with fewer people. A factory can offer a safe, dry environment, and workers can move from module to module to add materials, services or finishes without intruding on the work of others. They can also become highly skilled because the work that they do is sufficiently repetitive without becoming mind-numbingly dull. The costs of the prefabrication methods are also dropping as the factory businesses scale up. When a factory is running at full capacity it becomes a very efficient construction system, and the reason that many of them have failed in the UK in the past, is that they have rarely had the opportunity to run at full capacity for any substantial period of time. The boom and bust cycle of construction has made it very difficult for those

businesses to survive a sudden influx or cancellation of work. Now that these factories are busy, their costbase is not changing as quickly as traditional construction and they can maintain prices for longer while the competition rises theirs. Again, this is making developers and contractors look again at prefabrication as their traditional supply chains reach capacity and their price rises. All of these benefits are available today, but there aren’t enough plants available to make a serious impact on the production levels of the UK housing industry. A good sized factory can produce 1-2,000 units per year, which means that we would need fifty of them to make a serious impact on the UK housing shortage. In addition to the fifty factories, we need 500 clients who agree that this is their preferred method of construction, and the factories would need a lot of senior staff who understand manufacturing processes on the one hand, but also understand the needs of the housing market on the other. It is not as simple as taking a factory that produced bits of car, and turning it into one that produces bits of house. While the production methodology may be similar, the product is very different. Housing needs to be good quality housing. We have had a long and painful legacy of cheaply constructed prefabricated buildings from the post-war years and we must avoid repeating any of

All of this leads me to think that we have the opportunity to create a new industrial sector in the UK, one that could rival the car industry. A solid and long term, factory-based housing production industry that generated stable outputs, of high quality and which could lever their supply chains to bring down the costs of production. It would take enormous amounts of traffic off our roads, put a lot of white van men and women into stable jobs, reduce the energy consumption of construction, cut down pollution and noise and transform construction from an unattractive and old-fashioned industry, into a modern concern that attracts the brightest and best. Current factory production is a lot like site-based production but much better organised and safe. Future factory production could be highly automated, and use modern manufacturing to increase quality lower costs and deliver greater customer choices through customisation, like almost every other industry on the planet. That is an exciting prospect, but in order to get there we need some things to change. We need clients to agree that this is the way to build things, we need insurers to support them, we need designers to take a lead in proposing these solutions and we need manufacturers to bring their expertise to bear on solving the housing crisis. Normally I would say that we need political support, but having seen what political support has done to environmental businesses over the last few years I am going to suggest that we leave politicians out of the loop for the moment, until it becomes as obvious to them as it is to us, that this nascent industry deserves all the support it can get. For more information visit: Images: 01. Olympic Way, a hotel, affordable housing and private rental development 02. Felda House, Wembley Modules manufactured by Vision Modular Systems UK Ltd.






1 Through an investment in building information modelling (BIM), Actavo Building Solutions has delivered its first BIM Level 2 project – a £1.9 million classroom complex – to Granard Primary School in the heart of London. Compliant with BIM Level 2 requirements, Actavo designed and delivered the sustainable, two-storey block which comprises eight classrooms, an open learning studio which acts as a breakfast and afterschool care facility, cloakrooms, WCs, kitchen facilities and staffrooms. BIM is a process covering the entire lifecycle of a building from its conception to demolition resulting in a 3D digital model of its physical and functional characteristics. Onsite works at Granard began in January 2015, with the standalone, classroom complex being handed over in August 2015, meaning the project – from initial design to full completion – took just 22 weeks.

Matthew Goff, UK Operations Director at Actavo Building Solutions, says: “By July last year (2015), BIM Level 2 was implemented in Actavo to not only provide a smoother construction process, but also to reduce costs and waste by identifying potential issues before they arise. Using BIM, the leadership team at Granard Primary School was able to see their ideas visualised into a realistic building model with an accurate timeline before onsite work started. “There is a definite ‘need for speed’ within the education sector which has been fuelled by a sharp rise in demand for school places in the capital. Offsite construction means projects such as Granard Primary School can be completed in a much faster timeframe than traditional builds. It also ensures minimal disruption to day-to-day schooling activities.” As well as meeting BIM Level 2 requirements, Granard’s new building is designed to surpass sustainability targets. It passes BREEAM Excellent standards – one of the world’s most comprehensive and widely-recognised measures of a building’s environmental performance.

3 Cheryl Grigg, Headteacher at Granard Primary School, says: “Many schools are looking for economical ways to accommodate pupils. It was clear to us that we’d prefer an offsite solution, because it’s just as high quality as traditional build, but delivered in a much shorter timeframe without a price premium. Using Actavo’s regular step-by-step progress reports, we were able to use the construction process as part of a special project on the pupils’ curriculum. As well as providing additional space, the new building allows us to separate our pupils into smaller groups meaning we can teach them more effectively and they can make better progress.” Wandsworth Borough Council has invested £10m into permanently expanding 11 primary schools across the borough, with Granard Primary School being just one of the schools benefiting from a new education facility. For more information or to view our exclusive Granard Primary School walkthrough video, please visit:

Images: 01-03. Granard Primary School






The core thinking driving the current agenda is that we can create buildings in factories using techniques that have revolutionised the car industry, with minimal onsite labour for final build and commissioning. This is not new. In the Oil and Gas sector in the early 1980s it was quite normal to create plant in a fabrication yard and move it to site to plug it and start up. Turnkey projects – they did what it said on the tin. The automotive industry goes further, sharing common platforms between competitors so that the basic components of the car are the same, with competing companies focusing on innovative design to differentiate their products.

The Offsite Management School was launched in March 2015 and has seen a huge year of growth and interest in developing offsite knowledge. Shaun McCarthy OBE, Director, Action Sustainability, describes what the School hopes to achieve.

1 The Government’s 2025 vision for construction is compelling and challenging: 33% lower costs, 50% faster delivery, 50% lower emissions and 50% improvement in exports. In other words, in ten years’ time our construction industry will be so good the rest of the world will be knocking at our door to buy a slice of our expertise. No pressure then!


Performance improvement of this type will require the industry to throw out the old ways of doing things and start again with a radically different approach. Tweaking current practice or applying steady continuous improvement techniques will not work at this scale. Of course we know this has been tried before: the Latham and Egan reports recommended moves towards more integrated supply chains, better design, more efficient working methods and better communication using the technology of the day. With the exception of a few mega-projects such as Heathrow Terminal 5, the Olympic Park and Crossrail, the rank and file of the industry carried on in its own sweet way.


2 Ian Heptonstall, Director of the Supply Chain School, believes that: “To transform the construction industry into one that can crank out mass-produced components to be assembled in different ways to make different buildings will require root-and-branch reform of the way we look at skills. The construction professional of the future will work in collaborative teams of experts, will probably be a Six Sigma Black Belt, well versed in lean manufacturing, just-in-time inventory techniques and statistical process control. Construction companies will compete for talent with Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan and Google.”

Delivering growth and competitive advantage for offsite manufacturing businesses We develop and improve: • Business strategies

• Manufacturing operations

• Products & services

• Business processes

• Marketing strategies

• Management systems

• Sales routes to market

• Product certification

Call us on 01743 290001, email us at or visit our website at

Structural Screws Without Equal Available in lengths up to 400mm, our structural screw range has a solution for every type of timber construction. Connect with us: 01827 255600 and

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SO, HOW DO WE BRING ABOUT THIS REVOLUTION? It’s all down to skills of the people we work with, day in day out, and the talent we can attract to our industry. The Supply Chain School has over 10,000 supply-chain managers signed up to date and hungry for knowledge – 35 of the UK’s leading contractors, FM service providers and clients are using the School as a tool to drive improved skills in their supply chains. By engaging experts in the fields required and using the purchasing power of the main contractors to drive suppliers to the School, the transformation through learning can begin. In March 2015 the Supply Chain School launched its Offsite Knowledge Hub – the Offsite Management School. These are early days for the School but over 500 managers started learning through the School in 2015, so the signs are good – there is an appetite for knowledge. The Offsite Management School believes that the industry must go through a process we have called ‘Construction Industrialisation’. Digital design and the use of digital data throughout the value chain will lead to increasing use of offsite manufacturing, just in time logistics and multi-skilled onsite assembly will produce assets that are leaner, greener and more efficient. Best in class performance during an asset’s life will reduce maintenance costs and produce building and infrastructure that go beyond client expectations. The road to 2025 will not be easy, but offsite may just prove the vehicle to take construction forward. For more information visit: offsite-school.aspx

3 The Offsite Management School focuses first on five main stages of industrialisation including: • • • • •

Digital design Offsite manufacturing Logistics Onsite assembly Best-in-class maintenance.

It then develops a further eight supporting ‘soft’ management competencies, enabling businesses to build skills and drive change within the industry. These include: • • • • • • • •

Quality Management Project Management Marketing and business development Supply chain management Leadership and culture Change management Innovation Collaboration

In the decade between now and the target dates of the Government Construction Strategy, the built environment sector faces a stiff challenge up-skilling at speed. In a digital world, offsite technologies and solutions will have an increasingly critical role to play and the Offsite Management School will help the industry meet its strategic objectives.” Alex Lubbock, BIM Development Manager at Carillion

Images: 01. Leadenhall Building, London, included innovative offsite technology 02. Shaun McCarthy OBE 03. Industrialisation Mindset Wheel





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Image by kind permission of Willmore Iles Architects

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