Modern construction methods like Mace’s jumping factory could be worth £40bn per year in export revenue, says a report by contractor Mace.
The report says that 10,500 new homes in the UK’s 12 biggest cities will have to be built every month for the next two decades to keep up with demand. This means construction innovations are needed to build homes faster and more cheaply. Construction productivity also has to increase by 30%, it says.
The report also argues that other countries face the same construction challenges as the UK so innovations such as off-site manufacturing, digital design and Mace’s jumping factory, are an export opportunity.
Mace chief executive Mark Reynolds said: “The construction sector can be a jewel in Britain’s post-Brexit exporting crown. Thanks to a legacy of pioneering achievements, the UK is respected throughout the world as expert in delivering major, complex and innovative construction projects.
“Embracing modern methods of construction and exporting our knowledge around the world could lead to billions of pounds more in trade and help build new relationships with major markets around the world.”
The jumping factory was an onsite factory created in east London for construction of two residential towers, one 30 storeys high and the other 26 storeys. The aim was to complete one floor every 55 hours. To do this Mace devised two self-contained, self-climbing factories, housed in giant five-storey high tents erected around the perimeter of the new buildings. Inside, the towers were constructed floor by floor. When one was completed, the factory was “jumped” up 3.3m to the floor above to repeat the process, revealing the completed building below.
To establish Britain as a leader in modern construction methods, the Mace report argues projects using these methods should receive planning consent faster, and events such as the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022 should be used to showcase this expertise. Schools can also teach these methods to students, using technology such as 3D printing.