We ask readers to share their visions of the construction industry in 25 years’ time. Here, Anthony Thistleton looks forward to a revolution in housing productivity
The abject and consistent failure of the UK to meet housing demand is demonstrated by the crisis we now face. While our manufacturing industry has seen productivity rise 230% over the last 50 years, construction productivity has declined by 19%. The methods of procurement and construction we use now are pretty much the same as they were 100 years ago. Modern materials and processes have been introduced, but they are absorbed into the same disconnected process.
We are just now starting to build homes in factories on an industrial scale. This is a construction revolution which promises to completely transform the way we deliver housing.
In 25 years we will look back on the current way in which we build houses and find it archaic.
Building in factories is not just about improvements in quality, program and cost, although all these are promised. We can also build safer, cleaner and leaner. A unified design process including architects, engineers, services engineers, as well as manufacturers and materials developers will lead to an integrated product where efficiencies and delight mean that every part of the home works well and together.
The kind of integrated systems we take for granted in cars will start to become commonplace in our homes. Further to that, when cars were made by hand their interiors looked like the rooms of the time. As we develop building in factories, the constraints that have historically dictated our interior design fall away. Along with a revolution in housing delivery we can look forward to a transformation in architecture.
Do you have a Thought for Tomorrow? Just send your name, job title and company, and 250 words to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the heading “Building Your Future”, answering these questions:
- What would you like the construction industry to look like in 25 years’ time?
- And what needs to change to make that happen?
Anthony Thistleton is a founding partner of architect Waugh Thistleton