Virtual reality in construction is the future, together with digital design and offsite manufacturing technologies, thanks to £72 million investment from the UK government.
The new £72 million Core Innovation Hub, as part of the modern Industrial Strategy, will make the UK a world leader in the latest construction techniques.
The hub will be a key deliverable of the Government’s Industrial Strategy and Construction Sector Deal. In fact, it will support essential research and development in digital and offsite manufacturing technologies. Technologies such as augmented and virtual reality in construction, architectural and engineering design will become widely used, transforming the sector and improving UK infrastructure.
The new Core Innovation Hub will transform the UK’s construction industry by supporting the development and use of technologies such as digital design, advanced manufacturing, robotics, drones and augmented and virtual reality.
Many of these techniques are used and proven in other sectors, such as automotive manufacturing. However, it will be a first for construction.
The increased use of technology will enable the sector to design and build faster, cheaper and more sustainably. Smart sensors and digital systems will be incorporated into buildings and infrastructure, so they can manage and maintain themselves. Additionally, the data they gather will enable the government and industry to make our towns and cities better places to live, work and travel in.
During a visit to the Building Research Establishment (BRE), which is receiving funding, and is part of the Core Innovation Hub, Business and Industry Minister Richard Harrington said:
“We have the opportunity to revolutionise construction in the UK and the Core Innovation Hub will help us build smarter, greener and more efficient buildings much faster and cheaper than we do now. From the introduction of virtual reality to off-site manufacturing, our modern Industrial Strategy, is helping the UK construction sector to develop new techniques and skills – modernising the sector and delivering the homes and buildings our nation needs.”
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Robert Jenrick said:
“Our manufacturing industry is vital to the UK, contributing billions to the economy every year. This new fund will see it partner with our construction and digital sectors to revolutionise the way we develop crucial infrastructure. It will enable us to build in more efficient and cost-effective ways, boost productivity and ensure we are fit for the future.”
Following a nationwide competition as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the government, through UK Research and Innovation, awarded the £72 million to the Transforming Construction Alliance (TCA) to deliver the national hub. It is a partnership between 3 centres of established excellence:
- Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC)
- Cambridge University’s Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB)
The UK construction industry is facing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change and modernise.
Through the Industrial Strategy and the Core Innovation Hub, the UK will be able to seize this opportunity. This will enable us to master precision manufacturing resulting in the delivery of better performing schools, hospitals and homes. It will benefit businesses, public services and people.
Ensuring the UK’s construction industry is the best fit for the future will increase safety on sites. In fact, fewer workers will be put into dangerous environments. In turn, this will make the construction sector attractive to a more diverse workforce.
However, there will also be a reduction in the workforce, both in the design sector and the construction sector. As such, retraining is vital for practices to adapt to the forthcoming expectations of the building sector.
At SpaceShapers, we are already marching ahead with technological developments.
- CAD modelling for low energy design,
- BIM for coordinated models through to construction details,
- Virtual Reality to provide walkthroughs for our clients
- and collaborate with modular construction companies to minimise programmes on site.