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Setting a new standard for construction


Our first episode of Take 10 with Colliers: Talking Zero Carbon podcast series featured Matthew Flood from Landsec who told us about the firm’s construction of the new net zero carbon office block The Forge. Here his colleague Richard Sansom, project manager for the development, has shared some of the details of their pioneering construction technique which is helping to reduce emissions as well as accelerate construction. 

At The Forge, Landsec has been working in close collaboration with tech-led design practice Bryden Wood, a JV entity of Sir Robert McAlpine and Mace and specialist trade contractors to explore opportunities to utilise modern methods of construction in the development of its new 139,000 sq ft office complex in Southwark, London.

The development, which consists of two eight-storey buildings, is setting a new industry standard using the disruptive and pioneering construction technique, Platform Design for Manufacture and Assembly (P-DfMA). P-DfMA uses a set of components that can be combined to produce highly customised structures. The system is based on repeatable processes and standardised connections, enabling different kinds of spaces to be built with just a single “kit of parts”. Landsec calls its approach Office 1.0, a nod towards the tech and manufacturing industries that build a product, learn from the process and embed those learnings into future projects. 

The Forge is aiming to be the world’s first net zero carbon commercial building, an achievement that will be enabled through using this P-DfMA approach and a further indication of Landsec’s desire to create truly sustainable buildings for its customers. The project has garnered industry-wide interest and been granted funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) due to the innovative techniques taking place both on and off-site. 

Sam Stacey, challenge director for the Transforming Construction Challenge at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), said: “The work that Landsec has achieved in building what aims to be the UK’s first net zero carbon commercial building is an excellent example of the type of projects the UKRI Transforming Construction challenge is looking to support. With its innovative platform technique and ‘kit of parts’ approach, it embodies what the future of construction will be. Such approaches are essential to the transformation of the construction sector.”

With the use of sophisticated BIM modelling, Bryden Wood were able to take a design that already had planning permission and standardise elements such as the structural frame, unitised cladding panels and on-floor MEP. Standardisation makes fabrication easier for suppliers, resulting in lower costs. It also makes the installation process more repeatable and predictable, which Landsec hopes will lead to a shorter construction programme. Landsec has also invested in bespoke plant and machinery that make the construction process simpler and safer.

By making on-site construction more similar to a manufacturing assembly line, we believe that the P-DfMA approach will create better jobs and attract more diverse talent to a career in construction. 

The system relies on a bespoke set of temporary works which have been specially developed for the project. The use of these temporary works allows a thinner floor slab to be cast, resulting in a 13 per cent reduction in concrete used when compared to a traditional build. Embedding the P-DfMA philosophy into the existing design has also led to a reduction in steel tonnage of 18.4 per cent. These reductions, amongst others, have resulted in 19.4 per cent less embodied carbon at The Forge than was anticipated when planning permission was achieved.

The Forge development is aiming to be the UK’s first net zero carbon commercial building, both constructed and operated in line with the UK’s Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) framework definition of net zero carbon buildings. Construction is due to complete in 2022.

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Access the full podcast episode here