Current trends: What’s hot right now in construction?
The rapid development of the Internet of Things (IoT) has resulted in the innovation of smart buildings. Smart buildings carry out the monotonous, necessary tasks associated with facilities management, including everything from managing the building’s lighting to monitoring water and energy consumption. Companies such as Intel and Siemens have stormed the industry by creating programs suitable for all types of smart buildings. Many of these programs are AI driven and are therefore able to analyse the information they monitor to improve operations and enhance overall system efficiency. This is driving energy and time savings.
Although prefabricated buildings are not new, they have recently been receiving increased interest in the UK. New technologies, such as 3D printing, have made it easier for companies to undertake offsite construction. Architects are favouring this mode of development as it is quick and cost-effective but does not compromise quality. Companies such as Hanse Haus are gaining popularity as their prefabricated homes boast quality, uniqueness and are energy efficient before they are even installed. The government has been paying particular attention to the construction of prefabricated homes with the hope that they could alleviate the current housing pressure.
In light of our Paris Agreement obligations, going green has never been more critical for both private residences and commercial offices. By 2020, the government aims to have 4 million solar panelled homes installed, and having a green initiative is now part of every business strategy. Therefore, there is an emerging focus on renewable energy and materials within the construction industry. The advancements of smart buildings and automated software have also made it easier for businesses to reduce their carbon footprints, through energy saving structures such as ‘Passivhaus’ standard buildings and energy emissions management systems. Green buildings are also cheaper to run in the long term, a characteristic which obviously appeals to business and private owners alike.
Semi-open plan design
A halfway point between standard, separate rooms and open plan, semi-open plan designs radiate personality. They are becoming increasingly popular in homes as they offer an element of quirk and fun without entirely compromising privacy. Most semi-open plan rooms are organised logically, so combining a kitchen, dining and living room is becoming a popular choice. The idea behind this is to create a natural, cohesive flow through the house but maintain clear divisions of space.
The construction sector has faced labour shortages for many years and the recent triggering of Article 50 has only exacerbated this pressure. During this time of instability and uncertainty, there is the worry that the industry will lose skilled workers. Firms will likely counteract this loss by emphasising the importance of workforce mobility. Flexibility and diversity will become a mantra for the construction sector, as will the increasing importance of workforce training at all levels.
Future trends: What might be to come in construction?
Home voice control
Recent products such as Amazon’s Echo have made voice control an affordable convenience for homeowners. By way of the Internet of Things (IoT), these devices will allow homeowners to verbally command lights, stereos, kettles and more.
Not just tools of convenience, they can enhance home safety and security by turning off devices, turning on lights/security cameras, signalling alarms and calling for help. It is likely that deeper smart home integrations will develop in the coming years.
Virtual reality for Home Design
Architects and builders can already visualise their creations using computer aided design, however this is set to reach a new level with virtual reality. This will allow them to immerse themselves and their clients in their creations before construction. Although currently expensive, VR technology will become more accessible in coming years.
What more, the VR headsets from companies such as Yulio Technologies and Cadsoft can reveal costly, and otherwise unnoticed, issues, i.e. architectural errors, design clashes, etc. allow them to be corrected before work begins.
Drones in Construction
Drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAEs), are becoming commonplace on construction sites. They can carry out site inspections, H&S Induction, site planning, tower/scaffolding inspections and more.
Drones save time, money and provide safer work environments. Crossrail recently launched their Innovate18 project, aiming to bring new technologies and processes to the construction industry. They have identified further, possible uses for UAEs, including: thermal imaging scanning and volumetric measuring. Watch this space.
Rise of the Home Office
With the current fashion of semi-open floor plans, the home office has regained homeowners’ attention in the form of dual-functioning rooms. Combining these workspaces with bedrooms/lounges creates a modern, cohesive area which will rise in popularity as companies favour flexible home-working.
Outbuildings/garden offices will also grow in popularity as businesses establish a stronger distinction between work and home.
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