Being in construction we often muse about what the building landscape will be like a decade from now.
Here’s a mixture of hopes and fears; some blue sky thinking and some extrapolation of current trends. Feel free to add to it!
Sustainability – there is clearly a drive to improve the performance of our buildings. This will continue and indeed, given the rises in fuel costs, speed up. The crunch point will come when off grid solutions mean that utility company profits begin to be affected by the increasing efficiency and the utility companies begin lobbying against further improvements. Whether this happens within a 10 year time frame will depend upon: –
1. What is the future for post war housing?
We hear a lot about improving existing housing stock and we hear a lot about building more houses. In 10 years time these strands will have come together with estates of poorly performing post war single dwellings or semis being cleared to make way for apartment blocks of well insulated construction fed from a district heating system.
Although the car is a very efficient mode of transport for an individual the road system that enables the car to function is a huge millstone to society. Although we can’t do without cars at present we have to remember that they are only a little over 100 years old and not a permanent fixture on the planet. I’d love to think that we’d have a better transport solution within 10 years but maybe this time scale is more realistic for a revolution in fuel rather than form – all cars to be electric or fuel cell within 10 years.
This of course leads us to consider where the cars will charge. The range of an electric car will have improved hugely in ten years but they will still need charging. This means charging points at home which of course in turn means the home acting as a generating centre. By then we’ll have much better harvesting of sun and much more micro generation technologies.
It is also logical to have charging points at work. It would then seem logical to have an extension of the Boris Bike scenario to cars hired for particular journeys rather than owned outright, so you could cycle to work and pick a hire car up if you need to go and visit a project outside your cycle range. This move away from car ownership will be helped by the increase in home deliveries which will reduce the need for a car for the trip to the supermarket and by an increase in kids walking to school encouraged by schools deciding to charge for parking. Then there is the extension of road tolls – local authorities will be allowed to levy tolls locally, they will charge more for urban areas which will encourage an increase in walking and cycling.
Interestingly horse drawn transport will not be charged at the tolls so the horse could make a come back in urban areas.
Individually addressable fittings will become the norm, monitored remotely by resource optimization companies. Speed, automation and reliability will all mean that working from home continues to increase. This will put pressure on house building in the countryside. There will be a move to increase density over geographical spread within 10 years.
Methods of taxation have changed through history. Whilst Income Tax will still be around in 10 years it is likely to have been joined by a personal carbon allowance. This will help drive an increase in density of housing, an improvement in energy use.
Pre fabrication for one off dwellings only really relates to the frames at present. On repeat projects such as hotels pre fabrication is already commonplace. In 10 years time pre fabrication will be achievable even on a bespoke one off project. The rise of programmes such as BIM will help the accurate remote fabrication of parts of what becomes an intricate jigsaw puzzle. This in turn will be supplanted by the ability to 3d print a house bit that’s probably just over 10 years away.
Where does that leave us on site? Well, we’ll still be digging holes but I think I’d rather be a sparky than a spreader.
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