Eyeing a market it says is worth £5bn a year, a consortium has been launched in the UK to offer a system for building standardised modular primary schools teachers can design themselves.
Funded by public body, Innovate UK, and managed by construction consultants Blacc, the Seismic consortium says it can "transform the way primary schools are designed and built".
This level of demand far exceeds the capacity currently available in the construction industry– Seismic consortium
Partners include design practice Bryden Wood, two UK offsite construction firms, Elliott and The McAvoy Group, and the state-funded innovation organisation, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC).
The MTC received a share of £72m from the government at the end of last year toÂ push manufacturing techniquesÂ in the construction industry.Â
"Around 100 new and replacement primary schools are needed every year in the UK at a cost of £5bn," Seismic said in a press release last week.
"This level of demand far exceeds the capacity currently available in the construction industry. The challenge is compounded by the general inefficiency of the construction sector compared to UK manufacturing."
Seismic said its consortium would "radically increase productivity and efficiency" in building schools.
To speed up the initial design phase, it is working on a web-based app teachers can use to configure their new primary school building in line with government requirements, based on standardised components.Â
"By digitising the process of designing a primary school, we believe we can deliver significant reductions in lead times and build costs whilst accommodating individual design requirements," said Jami Cresser-Brown, director of Bryden Wood. "With the use of a digital tool, more time can actually be spent on the bespoke elements of the design of each school."
Richard Crosby, director of Blacc, which he founded in 2013, said: "By applying greater use of standardisation, our aim is to develop a series of components to enable multiple offsite specialists to achieve unprecedented economies of scale and efficiency in manufacturing."
Susan Hone-Brookes, chief engineer for construction at the MTC, said Seismic would be "a trailblazer to demonstrate the very latest offsite manufacturing technologies."
The launch follows a call in November from UK ministers for the construction industry to modernise with digital design and prefabrication.
They said they wanted the techniques used to deliverÂ £600bn worthÂ of infrastructure over the next decade.
Render courtesy of Blacc