logo for UK Construction Blog

Blog Details

Uncover the Latest News on Israeli AI Builds UK Hospital, Derby’s 17-story Apartment Complex, Street-Level Office Development in Swansea, and the Wood-Only Eco Office Block Miracle

In today’s news, we will look into the Israeli artificial intelligence construction technology that was used to help build a hospital in the UK. Meanwhile, in Derby, the 17-story residential building known as “The Landmark” is about to begin construction. Furthermore, the newly constructed office structure in the heart of Swansea’s city centre has now reached street level. Moreover, this eco-wonder office building is constructed completely of wood. Wooden buildings as the wave of the future? Everyone in London wants to get their hands on the ground-breaking office.

Israeli AI builds UK hospital

Original Source: Israeli AI construction technology helps build UK hospital

For efficiency, Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s new maternity, paediatrics, emergency, and critical care facility uses Buildots.

Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s new building is the first in the UK to use Israel’s Buildots AI technology to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Buildots automatically analyses site data from helmet-mounted 360-degree cameras.

The platform delivers accurate, objective progress reports with visualisations for management and stakeholders, improving efficiency.

The NHS’s renovation of University Hospitals Dorset (UHD) hospitals includes Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s 22,650-square-metre BEACH building (Births, Emergency And Critical Care, Children’s Health), built by Integrated Health Projects to high sustainability requirements.

“By integrating Buildots smart technology, we’re able to employ AI and 3D model vision to quickly track build progress compared with design and schedule to help guarantee we remain on course,” said IHP Project Director Bruce Preston.

“Buildots technology is a terrific illustration of how we’re employing cutting-edge technology to assist give the most value for money for the taxpayer,” said UHD Transformation Director Steve Killen. The NHS uses public funding.

BEACH will open in early 2025.

“The new Royal Bournemouth Hospital building is highly complicated, with purpose-built facilities for maternity, children’s, emergency, and critical care,” said Buildots Chief Product Officer Aviv Leibovici.

“We’re happy that Buildots is making this challenging project efficient.”

Derby’s 17-story apartment complex The Landmark begins construction

Original Source: Construction to start on 17-storey apartment block The Landmark in Derby

The city’s tallest structure will be it. A 17-storey residential complex in Derby city centre is nearing construction. The Landmark skyscraper was authorised by Derby City Council in 2020 for a Phoenix Street car park. Over 200 additional units will be built.

Now the firms behind the “high-quality” project have presented a construction management plan to the council. The publishing and submission of these documents suggest a work start date shortly.

Documents state that “enabling operations and surveys” will commence with site geotechnical investigations and checks on adjacent structures, features, roads, hard stands, and boundaries. These will be followed by tower foundation construction.

In stage three, the floors and apartments will be renovated. “Another project by Godwin Developments” billboards were reported on the unoccupied land in 2021.

Derby will profit from the construction, according to Godwin Developments. They previously stated: “Derby is a forward-thinking city on a quest to realise its potential and we feel that The Landmark plays a crucial part in that aspiration, particularly as the city recovers post-pandemic.

“The Landmark, as one of the new high-quality residential complexes in Derby, will play a vital part in reinvigorating the city centre, make a major contribution to housing targets and offer economic benefits coming from increased footfall, jobs, revenue and investment to the city.”

Derby’s tallest apartment complex, The Landmark, was authorised. New proposals for a 29-storey structure in the city’s “Eagle Quarter” and a 19-storey building at Bradshaw Retail Park may change this.

Street-level office development in Swansea

Original Source: New Swansea office development build reaches street level

Swansea city centre’s new office complex has reached street level.

Swansea Council’s 71/72 Kingsway plan has completed two basement floors, allowing for three more storeys at street level and above.

Bouygues UK is building the project on the site of several nightclubs. These included Top Rank, Ritzy’s, Time and Envy, and Oceana.

Construction will finish in 2023, creating 600 tech, digital, and creative jobs.

Swansea’s economy will benefit from the carbon-free system.

114,000 square feet of flexible co-working and networking space will be available. The Kingsway and Oxford Street will also be connected.

“This is another milestone for the construction of the new development at 71/72 Kingsway, which means work in future will soon be much more evident to cars, cyclists and pedestrians who pass the site every day,” said Swansea Council Leader Cllr Rob Stewart.

“From our interactions with local IT and digital companies and entrepreneurs, we know Swansea needs this kind of flexible, modern office space.

“This development will match that demand, help deter firms of this kind from relocating to other cities, and produce greater footfall and expenditure for other city centre businesses.”

“The initiative follows-on from a substantial renovation of The Kingsway to create a more business-friendly environment as Swansea’s £1bn regeneration programme continues,” said Swansea Council Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration, and Tourism, Cllr Robert Francis-Davies.

A green roof terrace and south-facing balconies overlooking the city centre and Swansea Bay will also be part of the new development.

The Welsh Government’s European Regional Development Fund and the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal are funding the 71/72 Kingsway development.

The UK’s first “living building” project, led by Hacer Developments, is under construction nearby. The proposal will comprise green walls and roofs, an educational facility, retail, offices, a landscaped courtyard, rooftop solar panels, battery storage, and gardens in the former Woolworths unit and a new 13-storey building. The scheme’s 50 affordable apartments will be managed by Pobl Group.

‘I want to caress the lift!’: the wood-only eco office block miracle

Original Source: ‘I want to caress the lift!’: the eco office block miracle made entirely from wood

It’s renewable, fire-resistant, and easy to build with. Timber construction—the future? We visit the groundbreaking London office everyone wants to touch.

The majority of brand-new office buildings that claim to be “sustainable” don’t live up to the name in very many ways. Great carbon-hungry shafts of concrete, steel, and glass are miraculously deemed “zero carbon” and adorned with trade association gold and platinum awards. Solar panels, heat pumps, low-flush toilets, and other add-ons form an impenetrable green cloak that can disguise many carbon crimes.

Filling a high-energy, high-rise glass office tower with low-energy technology does not make it carbon-neutral. “Net zero” usually means someone else pays for carbon. Overseas acquisitions of rainforests often harm the ecosystem and local inhabitants. A recent study shows that over 90% of rainforest carbon offsets issued by the world’s largest provider are useless and may be worsening global warming.

I sniff the walls often.

Operational carbon—the amount of energy a structure uses once it is occupied—has long been the focus in architecture, but the major factor is earlier. Embodied carbon—energy used to make building materials—accounts for up to three-quarters of a structure’s lifetime emissions. To avoid climate catastrophe, most of the industry now agrees.

A new office complex in Shoreditch, east London, lacks the gimmicks of its Square Mile neighbours. Its wood construction reduced carbon emissions by roughly 40%.

Charlie Green, co-founder of flexible workspace provider The Office Group, says he regularly comes in and puts his nose on the walls to smell it. He sits in the lobby of the Black & White building, its first new-build project, where everything looks like trees. End-grain oak sets cover the floor like a giant butcher’s block, supporting chairs of ash and walnut, stools of cork, walls of bare spruce, and columns of beech, while tulipwood louvres shade the glazed front. “People simply start touching everything,” he says.

Correct. I’ve never wanted to touch an elevator before, but its luxurious cork panels look like travertine. The cork capsule rises through seven storeys of alpine chalet-scented offices in a wooden lift shaft.

“We’re getting a pretty clear knowledge of the biophilic benefits of natural habitats, beyond the carbon savings,” says Andrew Waugh of Waugh Thistleton, the project architects. In timber homes, schools, hospitals, and offices, people sleep better, learn better, heal faster, and have less stress.

After 20 years working with wood, Waugh is one of the UK’s most prominent mass timber enthusiasts. His 2009 Hackney nine-storey Murray Grove housing design was the first tall urban housing building made completely of prefabricated solid timber. Not that the client wanted to brag.

“They said: ‘You may build it in timber, as long as you don’t tell anyone,’” Waugh recalls. Public perception worried them. Wood is usually used for fires, not skyscrapers. Waugh asks, “Have you ever noticed that when you have a bonfire, the large log will still be there the next morning? The outside is scorched but not burned through.”

Structural mass timber works this way. Its “sacrificial” exterior layers would char in a fire, protecting the inner structural integrity. It is made of supersized plywood. Waugh shows me a historic photo of a fire-ravaged building where the steel beams have melted and fallen, hanging like spaghetti over a burned wooden beam that remains structurally solid.

Since Murray Grove, timber technology has advanced. The Black & White building’s structural frame of columns and beams is made of beech laminated veneer lumber (LVL) for the first time in London, along with CLT walls and floor slabs. “As strong as steel but 20% of the weight and a fraction of the carbon,” Waugh adds, the material is made by peeling a tree (basically putting the trunks on a huge spiralizer) and bonding the thin layers together.

In the summer of 2021, I visited the Shoreditch building site and saw massive LVL columns and beams being effortlessly welded into place like a giant balsa wood model (allowing for disassembly and reuse in future). The sound—or lack thereof—was quite peculiar. This manufacturing line was peaceful and quiet, unlike building sites, which are noisy and full of harmful dust. “We’ve had praises from the neighbours about how quiet it is,” the site manager said, grinning. The scaffolding was noisiest.

The project took six months less to complete and required 80% fewer truck deliveries than a concrete building, decreasing city street congestion and pollution. No skips were sent to the landfill. “We drew every component on the computer and our files went directly through to be cut in the factory,” adds Waugh, his eyes wide with evangelical pleasure. “No wood is wasted because it is engineered for its purpose. Modernists claimed “truth to materials” but covered everything. This is true, hard-arsed modernism.

Wood is sustainable and sequesters carbon as it grows, making it ideal for building.

Five trees were planted for every one taken down in Austria and Germany’s huge certified forests to grow the project’s trees.

However, most UK trees are burned for power plants, leaving the structural timber business short. Waugh argues subsidies are bad. “Cutting down and burning a tree is subsidised. “If you build it, it’s not.” According to a recent analysis, the UK government subsidises bioenergy logging by about £2bn.

Building restrictions and insurers’ risk aversion aren’t helping. Even without growing it, the UK led structural mass timber for years. Waugh believes 15% of the global CLT market was ours in 2018. “We’re less than 1%.”

Why? The Grenfell Tower fire backlash despite little structural timber. The mayor of London banned combustible materials in the walls of any residential development seeking affordable housing money, regardless of height, in 2018.

Waugh recalls, “Our office had roughly 2,000 homes for housing associations and local authorities underway, which were all cancelled overnight.” Instead, most are concrete. “We have a concrete industry that behaves like the tobacco industry did in the 1990s, trying to pretend smoking is healthy,” he argues. “Green concrete” is absurd.” Cement manufacturing emits at least 8% of global carbon emissions, and cement replacements come from similarly harmful industries.

While other countries build residential timber buildings, the UK office market may lead the way due to less regulations. Tenants and financiers drive commercial low-carbon construction, not policy.

Green says occupiers and investors are pressuring. “Being in our building checks their ESG reporting box.” Environmental, social, and governance factors have become a focus for corporations and investment funds worldwide that want to quantify value beyond financial performance.

Blackstone, the world’s largest corporate landlord, which oversees $951bn of assets for pension funds and institutions, acquired the Office Group in 2017. UN advisers have accused Blackstone of contributing to the global housing crisis, an allegation the company denies. Blackstone proudly displayed the Black & White building on the cover of a recent brochure to promote its green credentials to clients.

Waugh thinks politics and regulation will drive sustainability. “No. Money. ESG is the new gamechanger for sustainability, and small-time investors—school teachers, postmen, and nurses—are driving it. Finance drives progress. It wants to be green this time.

Summary of today’s construction news

Overall, we discussed Israel’s Buildots AI technology being used in the new Royal Bournemouth Hospital building for the first time in the United Kingdom. Information gathered by 360-degree cameras installed on helmets is analysed automatically by Buildots.

For the moment, in the heart of Derby, a 17-story apartment building is rapidly approaching completion. The Landmark tower on Phoenix Street was approved by the Derby City Council in 2020 and there will be almost 200 more apartments constructed.

Moreover, the Swansea Council’s 71/72 Kingsway proposal includes three additional stories above ground level after the completion of the basement and first levels. Bouygues UK is responsible for construction on the former nightlife district. By the time it’s finished in 2023, the building will have generated 600 new positions in the fields of technology, digital media, and the arts.

Over and above that, this eco-wonder office building is constructed completely of wood. It can be easily replenished, doesn’t burn, and can be used in construction. A brighter future for timber buildings? Wood is an excellent building material since it is renewable and traps carbon dioxide during its growth. Massive approved forests in Austria and Germany were utilised for the reforestation effort, with five trees being planted for every one that was harvested.