Seismic II set to ‘transform the way healthcare facilities are built'

A £6 m project which the protagonists say will ‘transform the way that schools and healthcare facilities are built’ has been granted £2.9 m of funding ‘to showcase the future of modern methods of construction (MMC)in the UK.

The consortium-led Seismic II project is ‘working on the future of construction’. Among a range of outcomes, the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-funded project via the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will create a set of standardised re configurable components, working closely with the Construction Innovation Hub to align platform interface standards. These components will reduce waste, cost, and carbon dioxide emissions while increasing speed of delivery.

The consortium says it is ‘conscious of the need to align and harmonise its work with the outputs of the Construction Innovation Hub’, and will be working with it throughout to ensure maximum impact. The project participants said: “Government procurement is already set to shift from traditional construction methods to MMC. Seismic II will show how this shift can happen while meeting the government’s own ‘Construction 2025’ vision of lower costs and emissions, faster delivery, and an increase in exports from the industry. Currently, most traditional UK construction relies on bespoke systems created by individual manufacturers. A lack of standardisation means different systems are incompatible, causing errors, delays, and defects.”

Seismic II builds on the success of the Seismic I project, which showed ‘how a standardised light steel frame could change the way new schools were designed and constructed’. With the new award from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the system will encompass the production of wall, floor, ceiling, and roof components that are all completely interoperable with the standardised light steel frame. The consortium said: “The automotive industry has long been the standard bearer for streamlined production and component assembly. The aim of Seismic II is to show that similar principles can be applied to the construction industry."

Along with improving the offsite production processes for projects using MMC, Seismic II will also look at the whole life performance of the buildings produced that way. The government’s industrial strategy aims to reduce the construction costs and whole life costs of buildings by a third, while seeing those same buildings delivered in half the time and with a 50% reduction in carbon emissions from the sector.

The consortium says that adopting MMC is essential to meet those targets, and that Seismic II is ‘well-positioned to deliver on them’. Centred around a digital approach to design, production and operation, the platform will use linked data from start to finish. This approach ensures that the building delivered on site matches the design intent, performs as expected, and can be managed efficiently throughout its life.

Originally intended for school construction, Seismic II has drawn interest from the healthcare, commercial, and residential sectors. The completed demonstrator building will be a template for high performance buildings of all types, ‘delivered using high quality, reliable, standardised components.

blacc is the lead partner on the Seismic consortium, which also includes offsite manufacturers Elliott Group and the McAvoy Group, Tata Steel, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), the Active Building Centre (ABC), and the National Composite Centre (NCC).