2020 was a turbulent year and the construction industry suffered through several setbacks. The global pandemic proved that even the most well-prepared and detailed plans needed to be flexible and dynamic in order to survive.
This year; however, things are looking optimistic with restrictions easing in the UK. Construction companies are eager to get projects up and running at full speed to recover from last year’s financial losses.
With new projects starting all around the UK, let’s explore 5 predicted UK trends this summer:
1. Office Acoustics and Workspace Aesthetics
As employees gradually return to the office after months of working from home, many companies are investing in transforming their shared working environment into one which echoes a tranquil, peaceful environment. One method of achieving this is through fitting office spaces with Cat B fit-outs as “a flexible, long-term solution with thoughtful consideration given to employee wellness, from visual appeal to acoustic comfort,” says Ben Hancock, Managing Director at Oscar Acoustics.
“The reconfiguring and repurposing of office spaces is a top priority, as employers look to create a calm, welcoming atmosphere for returning workers. Other considerations such as ventilation, flexibility, and optimum ergonomic curation are also shaping the future of work environments and will play an increasing role in 2021 design briefs.”
Office spaces are rapidly becoming adaptable spaces that look to satisfy both functionality and aesthetic as employee health and wellbeing has been emphasised in recent months. Ideally, the transition between working from home and coming into the office should be as seamless as possible.
2. The Work from Home Hybrid Culture
It is estimated that the majority of employees expect to return to the office for at least four days a week post-pandemic, according to the Steelcase Global Report. As adaptions were made to many companies to accommodate to the necessity of working from home, it became clear what could be achieved from outside of the office.
The report claimed that 72% of all business leaders surveyed anticipate embracing an "emerging hybrid model", meaning working from home may become the norm for companies all around the world after Covid-19 safety restrictions are lifted.
Working from home demands dedicating a space to allow for effective productivity, Smith Morgan has introduced the Pavilion which provides a personalised modular system which can be utilised all year round. This functional and sustainable design can be effortlessly configured and tailored to your specific needs and requirements.
As companies shift to this hybrid culture, we may see residential construction designs adapt to incorporate elements which will allow for working from home to be more suitable.
3. The Influence of Technology and the Digitisation of Construction Planning
The connected construction revolution is expanding. Building design and construction is becoming increasingly remote as smart city projects begin to embrace fully-integrated site management software; this is proving to be more efficient and cost effective.
With 5G and Wi-Fi 6 further strengthening IOT networks, “We’re already seeing an increase in the number of smart city projects coming online, harnessing evolving wireless solutions,” outlines PJ Farr, Managing Director, UK Connect.
The construction industry is one of the least automated industries that features manual-intensive labour as a primary source of productivity, and it is surprising that robots have yet to play a more significant role. The use of drones and robots are on the rise to combat issues surrounding safety, site monitoring, material delivery, brick laying, demolition and autonomous vehicles.
4. The Selection of Bricks and Materials
As the construction industry continues to rapidly evolve, so do the choices of materials used. At the forefront of design and longevity is the Linear waterstruck long format brick.
Waterstruck bricks are produced using high volumes of water, which combined with the moulding and demoulding process result in a beautifully, irregular character to the bricks surface.
What sets this brick apart is its uniqueness and elegant proportions. This non-standard brick is rapidly gaining popularity due to its modern look as it is double the length of a standard brick and stands at just 38mm. The Danish format styled brick creates a more refined, gentle look in comparison to standard brick sizes, while preserving colour and texture.
Bricks can contribute to an improved, more comfortable indoor environment as well, as they absorb humidity better than any other building materials. This means less electricity is used on heating and warming the interior, offering an eco-friendlier approach.
5. Eco-friendliness and Sustainability
Currently, buildings account for 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions with the majority of these carbon emissions coming from energy use. The simplest way to combat this issue would be to adapt building and housing designs to ensure it utilised energy efficient techniques.
We are currently anticipating an update on the government’s climate change plan as we progress along the roadmap for the 2045 “Net-Zero” target. Lord Deben, chair of the Committee on Climate Change, states that governments should place improving energy efficiency and decarbonising heating across the built environment as their top priority.
Westminster has committed £150 million to kickstart London’s economic recovery by tackling an ambitious project for which they recently revealed the initial details. The Oxford Street District (OSD) framework aims to secure the long-term future of the high street as the greenest, smartest and most sustainable District in the world.
One key objective of the project is to improve the air quality across the district and promote innovation and experimentation. Improvements to the street environment will be prioritised to encourage walking and cycling as well as accelerate the adoption of zero-emission busses, taxis, private vehicle hire and ultralow emission commercial goods vehicles throughout the area.
With focus around bringing green spaces indoors, Biophilic design is the new buzzword in the design world as the drive towards integrating natural elements and processes into the built environment. The design utilises natural materials, patterns, and phenomena to maintain a constant connection to nature.
Many office spaces are adapting their office space layouts to incorporate a biophilic design as it has been found that this environment can reduce stress, improve cognitive function, creativity and improve our well-being.
Companies such as HTA Design are dedicated to creating a supportive and healthy professional environment that nurtures talent, builds careers and fosters creativity, enjoyment and satisfaction. Their offices in London, Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh reflect the theme of shared obligation to reducing carbon emissions.
Overall, the summer of 2021 is set to be an exciting year for construction as projects and designs come to fruition. The world has had to rapidly adapt to changes; however, the construction industry has always been on the foreground of innovation and adaption by finding ways to overcome obstacles. As we venture out into shared spaces again, take notice of changes that might impact the areas in which you operate.
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Before we look at 2020, we’re revisiting a NLA London breakfast talk, in December 2019. The discussi