Pictured L-R: David Flynn, Philipp Erler, Sigrid Brell-Cokcan

Building 4.0 CRC will host its second annual conference, CULTURE OF INNOVATION next week on Wednesday in Melbourne featuring international disruptors: Philipp Erler (Gropyus), Helena Lidelöw (Volumetric Building Companies), David Flynn (KOPE), Jaimie Johnston MBE (Bryden Wood) and Sigrid Brell-Cokcan (Robots in Architecture, Austria). They’ll be joined by others exploring the big, bold ideas needed to disrupt the status quo: Mike Zorbas (Property Council of Australia), Romilly Madew (Engineers Australia), Selina Short (EY), Helen Bell (Green Building Council Australia) and Cameron Bruhn (Australian Institute of Architects).

While the use of platforms is now ubiquitous in all tech industries, they are a relatively new phenomenon in building. Platforms and other technologies are increasingly being employed around the world to create new marketplaces for building components to be used by contractors. Digital platforms are also being used to design, develop, and deliver planning compliant designs that have the added benefit of dramatically improving building sustainability.

We have the technology and learnings to build better and faster right now, according to Professor Mathew Aitchison, chief executive officer of Building 4.0 CRC (co-operative research centre), “We need to embrace the worldwide learnings available to us to eliminate the friction from the current value chain and ensure sustainability is front and centre in our building.

“Notably, the platform approach to building requires a major shift in attitudes from both clients and suppliers.

“The recent completion of The Forge development in Southwark in the UK powerfully shows the path toward collaboration.”

Beginning with research at Cambridge University, this landmark project created a new model for building production, which the leading engineering firm Bryden Wood term P-DfMA, or platform design for manufacture and assembly.

“Put simply, suppliers repurposed existing products to create a ‘kit of parts’ able to integrate with a platform ecosystem. This resulted in a manufacturing-like supply chain finetuned for the building industry’s project-based delivery. Even lifting and placing on site were prototyped to eliminate uncertainties.”

The Forge also established a new model of strategic partnering, dispensing with the main contractor role.

Landsec was the developer; Bryden Wood was the platform consultant; Sir Robert McAlpine and MACE JV provided construction management services; prototyping and manufacturing was done by Easi-Space along with key trades and suppliers.

Furthermore, The Forge is the first commercial building in the UK to be designed to the UK Green Building Council’s definition of a net zero building.

Other success stories in the region include KOPE (United Kingdom) and Gropyus (Germany).

KOPE providesa platform for all aspects of offsite construction that embeds the underlying rules of products and systems directly into design files.

This allows a true connection between those making and those designing in the shape of a marketplace. But with such a vast array of products and systems available, they have had to take on the challenge in a fundamentally new way.

KOPE has taken an approach that aims to reorganise a world with millions of products and codify them all into a highly structured and efficient set of algorithms, data structures and rules.

Gropyus views real estate as a single holistic product—from planning and design to manufacturing, construction and building operation.

Its state-of-the-art construction facility reflects the company’s focus on digitalisation and conserving resources. The company controls hardware (building) and software in parallel and has a business plan to franchise production systems by fully digitalising and automating the value chain.

Although it is early days for the European start-up, the company offers customers a guaranteed price and a demonstrably faster build.

Another example is Canada’s Intelligent City, which provides seamless and transparent design to deliver mass timber housing solutions enabled by parametric design and expanding their value chain to include manufacturing and automated assembly.

In Australia, Pt Blink’s multi-sided digital platform, or a “marketplace” for offsite construction, allows owners and developers to deliver multi-storey buildings as a kit of configurable parts manufactured offsite and integrated very quickly and safely onsite by ecosystem partners.

Powered by a proprietary parametric interface and design tool, their digital platform connects and coordinates all members of the ecosystem throughout a project.

CULTURE OF INNOVATION will be held next week on Wednesday October 2023 (9am–6pm), at Monash College Docklands in Melbourne.

Building 4.0 CRC is a $130 million research initiative co-funded by industry and the Australian Government to facilitate collaboration to develop new ideas and grow awareness and adoption of existing solutions in the market, and platforms.

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