May 16, 2020

Future Construction Technologies and Techniques

green building
5 min
TERMES robots, photo courtesy of SingularityHUB via Pinterest
The future of the construction industry seems brighter than ever. Aside from providing various jobs to those seeking careers in this field, evolving tec...

The future of the construction industry seems brighter than ever. Aside from providing various jobs to those seeking careers in this field, evolving techniques have enabled different living options for people to better suit their styles and preferences.

Condos in key cities, for example, have provided people with an alternative way of living, aside from the standard residences that people are more accustomed to. As more and more buildings and condominiums in major cities are being built, the industry is also keeping in track with the latest technologies to better improve the quality of said buildings, geared towards the future of man’s day-to-day living through sustainable construction practices.

So what are the different technologies available to the construction market to advance the industry beyond conventional builds into ones that represent the standards of the future? What are the innovations and materials that will build the high-rise buildings of tomorrow in the world's largest cities?

Future construction technology

When it comes to construction technologies, the possibilities are endless, and the current rapid innovation and technology of construction will shape the appearance of future buildings.

In terms of building construction, the construction workers of the future could be robots. The Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have designed termite-inspired bots which can already perform construction tasks. 

They can build structures without supervision and even without pre-determined roles. Four years have been allotted by the researchers to develop TERMES, the team of small robots that can build 3D structures from foam bricks. They plan to use similar robotic systems such as these for construction projects that may be too risky for humans.

Italian robotics engineer Enrico Dini has said: “We might print not only buildings, but entire urban sections.” This may well hold true, with architects already producing the first 3D-printed houses. Last January 2013, Universe Architecture had designs of a two-storey house that looks like a Möbius Strip and designers plan that it will be concretely printed on site.

Universe will be collaborating with Dini with his D-shape machine, which is considered the largest 3D printer in the world. In 2010, it built a single-room structure resembling a mountain hut with two windows; an interior that has a workspace, platform bed and a sink.

These kinds of printed buildings might offer a glimpse of the future of building construction, but because of its fragile parts, the buildings must be printed with supporting structures to prevent them from collapsing while under construction. The support can be removed once the concrete filling has been added. At present, the whole process has been estimated to cost around €5 million: rather prohibitive, but constantly falling as the technology is refined.

Building materials of the future: Greener, more intelligent

Future building materials will take their cue from current scientific technologies. As reported by BBC News, a self-healing concrete developed by microbiologist Henk Jonkers and Eric Schlangen, a concrete technologist, involves the genus Bacillus’ mixed bacteria spores. Its nutrients, when activated by water, will feed on calcium lactate to produce a primary component of limestone, which is lactite.

This self-healing concrete may be available within the next few years if tests are successful. Once proven, it could eliminate concrete cracks and expensive concrete maintenance.

Alongside and influencing these technologies is a greater awareness and need to build greener, with sustainable materials used at the construction phase. Malama Composites has started manufacturing foam material from plant materials like hemp, kelp, and bamboo that will be used in turbine blades, insulation, and furniture.

The foam can provide high moisture and high resistance to heat, and when used can also give protection against molds and pets. It even improve the quality of living, thanks to its better insulating properties and higher thermal resistance. Plus, it can also give your living spaces the right kind of acoustics.

Re-defining future design

While it may be easier to stick to familiar construction methods, the industry is changing and the new, innovative greener techniques, while challenging to develop to the point that they become standard, can be highly beneficial to the quality of the urban environment, and often ingenious.

In Indonesia, Skidmore, Owings & Mills has revealed its design for a 99-story Pertamina Skyscraper that is shaped like a budding flower’s petals. What’s interesting to note here is that to harness wind energy, the said skyscraper will slightly open its peak to allow its wind funnel to convert high speed winds into energy sources.

The design team, as part of its green architectural design plan, also took steps to minimise the solar heat, adding solar panels to the façade of the skyscraper to take advantage of the natural daylight coming from the sun, thus decreasing carbon dioxide emissions.

Elsewhere, to decrease construction costs and at the same time reduce waste, VS-A and Chartier-Corbasson unveiled their skyscraper design made from the tenants’ trash. Dubbed as “The Organic London Skyscraper”, it will be made of durable panels made out of plastic waste and discarded paper.

The said building will grow as its initial residents produce more trash for the construction materials. The plastic casting can be completed in a year, and to be able to generate its own electricity, the hollow tubes in the embedded scaffolding will be provided with wind turbines. Recycled materials will be converted to durable panels installed across the building.

Seeing beyond the tall buildings

Considering the future of construction development can give us a wider perspective and fresh ideas when it comes to designing the living spaces such as condos, skyscrapers, skylines and office spaces being built in major cities around the world.

Architects and designers have given us exciting ideas that will define the way we live, and the kind of living that the next generation will experience. More importantly, as these buildings are constructed, experts should ensure that every material and every action taken in the construction process will minimise environmental damage, ensuring the world outside these future buildings is as pleasant as it is inside.

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Jul 29, 2021

BT and Microsoft unveil strategic partnership

Dominic Ellis
3 min
BT and Microsoft launch strategic partnership to accelerate innovation across enterprise voice, cyber security and industry-focused services

BT and Microsoft have launched a strategic partnership to accelerate innovation across enterprise voice, cyber security and industry-focused services in sectors from digital manufacturing to health.

BT has already been named one of the first development partners for Microsoft Operator Connect and Operator Connect Conferencing. The renewed agreement will allow BT to build on this relationship and offer its own branded global managed voice services directly through Microsoft Teams, with an approach that further enhances customer experience and creates new opportunities for growth. 

The strategic partnership will build on BT’s existing portfolio of cyber security services built on Microsoft technology. It will see the companies push forward with the design and launch of a new generation of managed security services to enable and protect the modern collaborative workplace. BT will work closely with Microsoft to develop distinct security propositions to defend customers’ operations across the cloud as well as its own IT estate.

Sustainability and collaboration on digital skills are integral to the partnership. BT and Microsoft will work together on further enhancing sustainability credentials within their supply chains and join forces on promoting digital skills in the communities.

“BT and Microsoft are at the forefront of innovation in global digital platforms and connectivity that will take technology and communication beyond limits,” said Bas Burger, CEO of Global at BT and executive sponsor of BT’s partnership with Microsoft. “This partnership will ensure all of Microsoft’s solutions work ‘Best on BT’ and support both companies’ commitments to improving digital skills in the community.”

Omar Abbosh, corporate vice president of industry solutions at Microsoft, said: “BT can use Microsoft’s cutting-edge tools to develop new communications services that meet the needs and demands of today’s customers. By aligning our visions for communication, connectivity, security and digital technology, Microsoft and BT will support real growth for businesses across the world.”

Microsoft's vision is to transform construction and built environment businesses with design innovation, a supply chain you can control, and a connected, safer, more productive workforce.

Microsoft recently unveiled strong results for the quarter ending June 30:

  • Revenue totalled $46.2 billion, up 21%
  • Operating income was $19.1 billion, up 42%
  • Net income was $16.5 billion, up 47%
  • Diluted earnings per share was $2.17, up 49%

For the year, revenues totalled $168.1 billion (up 18%), operating income hit $69.9 billion (up 32%), net income was $61.3 billion GAAP and $60.7 billion non-GAAP, and increased 38% and 37%, respectively.

“We are innovating across the technology stack to help organizations drive new levels of tech intensity across their business,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and chief executive officer of Microsoft. “Our results show that when we execute well and meet customers’ needs in differentiated ways in large and growing markets, we generate growth, as we’ve seen in our commercial cloud – and in new franchises we’ve built, including gaming, security, and LinkedIn, all of which surpassed $10 billion in annual revenue over the past three years.”

In a trading update last month, BT reported profit after tax £2m, down £446m, due to a "one-off tax charge in the quarter to reflect the remeasurement of deferred tax balances following the enactment of the new UK corporation tax rate of 25% from April 2023".

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