About The Construction Forum
Why can’t we build better buildings?
How often have we heard the argument “I’m too busy to learn the skill that will allow me to do more, in less time”? This is particularly true in construction.
Whereas office work and manufacturing had adopted word processing and CADCAM technologies 30 years ago, much of the planning stage of construction is still done on paper. BIM is the answer – it should be the standard for architects, developers, contractors, sub-contractors, landlords and facilities managers. Yet too few firms in the supply chain use BIM. Spending time doing projects in BIM saves time on site, lowers construction costs by spotting problems ahead, and lowers operating and maintenance costs over a building’s lifetime.
We stand at the dawn of a new age in construction – BIM is but a part of that. Smart cities, smart grids, smart meters, the Internet of Things will mean a connected world where buildings communicate with each other. New materials and processes will revolutionise construction, such as Perovskite solar cells (the means of mass-producing them having been invented by Dr Olga Malinkiewicz). These solar cells are translucent, allowing them to be applied to windows. Factory pre-fabrication of buildings and 3D printing on-site are two more technologies that will become increasingly common in future.
The re-purposing of existing buildings is proving controversial. Britain’s retail sector is contracting rapidly as e-commerce takes sales from the high streets. Meanwhile new trends in offices such as co-working, home-office and activity-based workspaces mean that businesses need fewer square feet from which to operate. So retail and office premises are undergoing change of use. Permitted Development Rights are making it easier for developers to turn them into homes – but concerns are growing that the result will be ghettos of poor-quality housing in locations unsuitable for residential use.
Above all, the construction sector faces an unprecedented skills shortage. With Brexit threatening to cut off sources of labour from continental Europe, and vocational training unable to provide the required numbers of young people entering the industry, employers are finding it ever harder to recruit and retain staff. The result is wage inflation and rising costs that developers cannot easily pass on to end users.
What are the answers? Who can demonstrate the best practice from which others can learn? Which project management tools can bring support to hard-pressed builders? There’s much learning to be shared at this year’s British Polish Construction Forum!
Bartlomiej (Bart) Kowalczyk
Founder & Director
Stowarzyszenie Techników Polskich
Embassy of the Republic of Poland
Construction Forum Host
NatWest Conference Centre (RBS Building) |250 Bishopsgate|London | EC2M 4AA
UK Country Manager, Danwood House
Partner, Carter Lemon Camerons LLP
Chief Adviser, British Polish Chamber of Commerce
Co-founder of Copronet
Director at EDGE Design Studio
Client Service Consultant, Solid Management
Enterprise Manager, NatWest Business
Pearson Business Solutions