Seismic – a new platform for construction
After the effects of the pandemic, construction is seen as a key driver of economic recovery. The public sector will need to deliver a large proportion of this, with commitments to new hospitals, schools and public buildings made.
This is against a wider context of an inefficient construction industry that, in pockets, is trying to adopt Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) so that they can add more value to projects and communities and improve their productivity and margins.
However, each manufacturer is taking their own approach and there is a lack of standardisation. This adds cost and risk for clients, which makes the prospect of projects being delivered at the scale required highly unlikely.
The opportunity with Seismic was to create a harmonised system that brings multiple manufacturers in line with the same standards, without worrying about compatibility. This will provide clients with more choice and open up capability and capacity within the construction sector, as well as attract new entrants and a more diverse workforce.
Seismic was designed in line with the UK government’s Construction 2025 targets: 33% lower cost, 33% faster and 50% reduction in carbon emissions. Our ambition was to show that a platform-based approach could, at a minimum, address these targets and modernise the construction process.
Seismic was worked on in two stages. Phase one was developed in response to work with the Department for Education (DfE) to improve the delivery of schools. It focused on the design of a standardised, lightweight steel frame and connector and was completed in 2020.
Because of its success, a second stage was commissioned. The objective was to design and construct core components that would work with the frame system, including wall, floor, ceiling and roof cassettes, offering an “all-in-one” solution for clients.
Blacc led the consortium, working with offsite manufacturers McAvoy and Algeco formerly known as the Elliott Group, Tata Steel, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), the National Composite Centre (NCC) and Specific (part of Swansea University).
Seismic offers a platform-based approach that can be rolled out faster, at lower cost, and at a higher quality than a normal build. Seismic exceeds the Construction 2025 targets in every way, delivering a building that is:
- 75% more efficient – Seismic is based on a flexible, highly configurable system that can work across many building types. By using standardised components alongside an optimised manufacturing process, buildings can be delivered much faster
- 70% lower in carbon impact – through design efficiency, manufacturing effectiveness and materials selection, Seismic outperforms even the strictest environmental targets discussed within construction.
- 47% better value than traditional construction – thanks to Seismic’s whole life performance, extensive testing and quality assurance, and efficient construction and production, the result is much better value for clients. These savings can be used for other aspects that add further value to the end building.
Richard Crosby, director at blacc, said: “Seismic was developed to help drive a shift towards Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) in the industry. What the consortium has achieved demonstrates the value of a standardised, platform-based approach to construction. It is faster at every stage, from design through to manufacturing, assembly and fitout, and offers better quality and value, alongside a dramatically lower carbon impact.
“Seismic sets the template for a platform-based approach to construction and proves that it can be done now. This offers a huge opportunity for unlocking development, providing a solution for a range of sectors, including education, healthcare, workplace, leisure and residential.”
Seismic was part funded by the Transforming Construction Challenge, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The project team worked closely with the Construction Innovation Hub supporting the work on the Hub’s Platform Rulebook.
People can visit the demonstrator building at BRE Watford until the end of the year. To find out more visit seismicgroup.co.