A new £2.5m project, announced today, will bring together businesses and researchers to help overhaul construction practices in the UK.
The Transforming Construction Network Plus (N+) project is one of the investments within the Transforming Construction Challenge (TCC), a programme supported by the UK government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
It will transform the way we design and manage, construct and power buildings Professor Jennifer Whyte Co-Investigator on the N+ project
The TCC looks to enable the construction sector to produce safe, healthy, efficient buildings using the latest digital manufacturing techniques. The aim is to produce more energy efficient structures, using modern materials and digital design methods to build better buildings for people in the UK.
N+ will help the industry adopt these technologies by creating a community of researchers and a body of knowledge that will inform future construction policy and help build structures 50% faster, 33% cheaper and with half the lifetime carbon emissions.
Led by the Bartlett, UCL's Faculty of the Built Environment, with co-investigators from Imperial College London and the University of Warwick, N+ will invest £1m in new research projects over the next two years. There will be two open calls for small research projects, funding up to 20 academic-led and user-inspired projects to generate new research findings.
N+ will focus on supporting research that looks at construction as a production 'system' for built assets that adds value to cities and their infrastructures. Transforming design, construction and operation of buildings is a problem that demands input from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines, which is why major, coordinated investments are being made through the TCC.
The research supported through the N+ will focus on the gaps, inter-relationships and under-explored regions of this domain, spanning digital, energy, construction and manufacturing expertise.
Professor Jennifer Whyte, a Co-Investigator on the project and Director of Imperial's Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation, said: "We feel passionately about the challenges and opportunities of change in this sector and are delighted to be part of this project.
"At Imperial, the Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation has a trajectory of research on system integration, design for manufacture and assembly and modern methods of construction. The Network plus gives us an opportunity to contribute at a National level.
"It is important to develop the UK research base and community needed to support the industry as it goes through disruptive change, to provide leadership on the international stage, and to ensure the inputs from research and dissemination of outputs across all areas of the UK. It will bring together the construction, manufacturing, energy and digital sectors to transform the way in which we design and manage, construct and power buildings."
Professor Jacqueline Glass, UCL's Principal Investigator for the N+, said: "With the N+, we have an extraordinary opportunity to tackle longstanding problems which have held back UK construction for decades. We are delighted to be collaborating with researchers from Imperial College London and WMG, University of Warwick to create an integrating agenda for a fragmented industry, by building a new movement of researchers and delivering an evidence-based manifesto for change."
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