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26 February 2015: Insitutions in Construction - Challenges and Opportunities

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A Personal View from Gay Lawrence-Race

A smaller gathering than usual but nonetheless raising some very important discussion about the future of institutions in the construction sector. It's interesting that similar discussions are going on just now about the environmental sector too.

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The evening was a fascinating review started off by Gay Lawrence-Race, outlining the challenges to institutions in construction, and the opportunities.

Of course, institutions as we know them are UK-centric and construction has been increasingly globalised. Providing her own personal views, we talked about member recruitment and retention, and how the advance of technology were key issues for a wide range of institutions. Could advances in data collection and design algorithms bring about major changes in how we design buildings ? Could the process of scheme, detailed design and construction become increasingly automated and aligned to the assembly of modular components rather than prototypes ? What skills areas would the industry in that case be seeking in say 10 years time, and what resource and economic climate might be the backdrop for such change ?

How might our BSE jobs, in our audience mainly in design, evolve - and are there any lessons from previous technological change ? Perhaps a fundemental from that is how designers see themselves today as technologists introducing BIM as today a data tool, but in future, might design be regarded as a craft ? Gay also observed that over her career, apart from finite compliance it's not the calculations that crop up as the real influence over a project, but the assumptions. So BIM and design algorithms could liberate designers to make more informed, reflective choices.  

And could FM and work on the existing stock represent greater employment for human BSE's ?      
As well as fascinating, it was a very engaging evening too, with a good age and gender spread and greatly-extended networking, until we had to leave. HCNW extends its thanks to Gay for an extremely interesting event, which gained excellent feedback.