February 16, 2019

Happy but Sad because of the Construction Industry

Each week I read several articles about construction and the new technologies being developed, also about new techniques and software used to increase productivity or interesting approaches and methods for designing infrastructure. Sometimes I feel encourged by the articles and enthusiastic and sometimes I feel discouraged by the slow rithmus and skepsis with which the market reacts to innovative ideas, forcing entrepeneurs or scientist to concentrate their efforts in raising money instead of advancing product development.

Today I want to talk about three articles that despite being encouraging for the technologies in it, make me think of the little focus of overall productivity. The first of them talks about how modular building is slowly moving into construction sites. The author talks about the already proven benefits of modular building but cites also the main problems in its slow adoption, collaboration and installation quality. Even if not cited in the article, by the experience in a construction company, I'm almost certain that this problem come because the optimization was suggested directly at the time of building. Meaning that modularization was not in the original plans. In conclusion lack of collaboration.

The second article talks about a new shear wall technology The approach has a lot of merit, one uses steel sandwich panels and fills them with unreinforced concrete. It's quick. And probably uses the same or less amount of steel than normal concrete shearwalls, nevertheless I'm not thrilled about it, becauese it continues being very material intensive and probably not much more recyclable than regular reinforced concrete.

Finally, the third article analyzes how cities like Dubai are pushing 3D-Printing to reduce housing costs. That is amazing news, hopefully their vision also considers the property costs, without an intervention at this level and only lowering construction costs will only make the dream of affordable housing is very hard to achieve. Specially because property prices are only market driven and don't involve any kind of new investment.

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