By Stephen Good
It’s no secret that we face a shortfall in housing across Scotland, with rising demand for private, affordable, and social homes to be built more quickly. At the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, we want businesses to look to the future and do things better – and that includes tackling our housing shortage through modern, more efficient building techniques.
A report on housebuilding by Lloyds Banking Group contained some encouraging figures; 82% of firms said they are more focused on innovation than before. Companies are investing an average of 24% of their turnover on new techniques, compared with 20% five years ago. They’re doing this to improve efficiency, build to a better standard, and many are finding that it also increases their profit margins.
Since we launched CSIC in 2014, we have had a focus on offsite manufacturing; a game-changer when it comes to tackling the current housing shortage. Offsite can deliver a high quality, mass-customisable product that is technically advanced, offering social, environmental, and economic benefits. It’s quicker, safer, and can reduce costs.
Similarly, design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) allows homes to be constructed more quickly, cheaply and safely, without compromising on quality – this method was used to build the Glasgow 2014 Athletes’ Village. It could transform the way housing is delivered.
Many people worry about what these new methods mean for housing design. I think concerns are largely unfounded. Look at Urban Splash’s ‘House’ project in New Islington, Manchester; modular homes – factory-made and transported as a pre-assembled module to site – that have been designed by architects and are anything but bland.
At CSIC, we offer advice and support to help companies find better and faster ways of delivering products and services, as well as training sessions and workshops. In the recently opened Innovation Factory, we have an amazing facility open to anyone who wants to prototype and develop new products, processes, systems, and solutions.
We are also offering support to companies who have ideas on how robotics might increase construction efficiencies, enhance the quality, or overcome industry challenges – such as how to build more homes, more quickly. So, if you have an idea, get in touch!
Stephen Good is Chief Executive of the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre.