Catch up on two years of innovation

UK Construction Week is back after a long two-year wait, to showcase innovation and knowledge on 5-7 October at the NEC in Birmingham

The pace of digital transformation and innovation in architecture and the built environment has undoubtedly accelerated over the last 18 months or more, driven particularly by the changes forced upon us by the Covid pandemic. So how do we best get back up to speed?

If registrations to this autumn’s UK Construction Week (UKCW) are anything to go by, say the organisers, architects are voting with their feet, choosing to be there in person rather than relying on trawling the internet.

Taking place on 5-7 October at the NEC in Birmingham, the award-winning show is a one-stop-shop for all things construction, including CPD sessions, product demos and free information on all the latest regulations, digital technology and MMC solutions, innovative materials and new suppliers coming into the UK market. It is the first major live event in the construction industry for two years, and is expected to attract more than 20,000 specifiers and buyers and at least 300 exhibitors.

Each day of the show will have a topical theme, with day one focusing on sustainability, day two on diversity, equality and inclusion in construction, and day three on the big issues around quality, social value and building safety. UKCW’s long-established half-day summits on ‘Quality’ and ‘Wellbeing’ will also be a key feature for architects.

Exhibitors will be showcasing two years’ worth of exciting new product launches and innovation, providing demos and offers on more than 6,000 products. Major brands such as Google, HS2, Geberit, Hanson Plywood, Ford, Xero, Procore and the Construction Innovation Hub will be promoting heavily. The Innovation Zone will also return this year – a collection of the most interesting and inventive products to have recently launched onto the specification market.

The UKCW main stage, sponsored by COINS, will see keynote presentations by senior leaders from, among others, McKinsey, the Construction Products Association, CIOB, Willmott Dixon, Barratt Homes, Bioregional, Grimshaw, the Sustainable Energy Association, and the Construction Leadership Council.

The COINS ‘Future of Construction’ series of seminars will focus on how the last 18 months have changed the way we build, and how that can be used in a positive way. These sessions will cover updates in technology such as collaborative urban design via augmented reality, procurement, sustainability, wellbeing and more.

Go digital
The Digital Construction Hub at UKCW will also feature more than 30 presentations over the three days, and over 10 hours of CPD for architects.

Highlights include an interactive workshop from Birmingham City University exploring the usefulness of augmented reality as a visual design tool for urban design projects, plus a practical session from one of the leading legal specialists in BIM to review common risks, causes of disputes and how to mitigate them. A deep dive into how Buro Happold has adopted BIM and upskilled its staff will provide highly practical advice around skills and development and how they dealt with key legal and contractual risks along the way, and there will also be sessions on the UK BIM Framework’s standards and guidance, and on the national ‘digital twin’ programme.

The Digital Construction Hub is sponsored by Procore, which will deliver practical case studies and high impact training sessions every day, and is curated by the UK BIM Alliance. All seminars are free to attend, and will be suitable for architects’ CPD.

The UKCW Role Models initiative is making a welcome return in the face of skills shortages across the construction industry. The shortlist this year includes several architects in the running for the Role Model of the Year awards, including Priya Aiyer, architect at Mace; Felicity Meares and Dagmar Binsted, associates at Scott Brownrigg; Duncan Baker-Brown, School of Architecture and Design senior lecturer at University of Brighton; Dominic Marshall, Founder at Bounce Architecture, and Dmitrij (Orlovski) Burakevic, architect at Terence O’ Rourke. The overall winner will be announced on the main stage on Wednesday 6 October.

One entry badge gives access to multiple sections: Build sponsored by Easy-trim, Modern Methods of Construction, Building Tech, Timber, Civils, Energy and HVAC, and Surface and Materials, as well as Grand Designs Live.

Free registration to UK Construction Week is open: To get regular updates on the event, including safety protocols and new features, follow UKCW on social media using the hashtag #UKCW2021