Latest innovations and products in the offsite sections of the construction industry.

Organisers of Offsite Expo have reported that the first day of the event exceeded expectations. After the leading offsite construction exhibition had to be called off in 2020 due to Covid restrictions, the team behind the event were determined to make every effort to ensure 2021 was a tremendous success.

Taking place at the Coventry Building Society Arena (Ricoh Arena) on 21 & 22 September 2021 – managing one of the first major construction events since lockdown does not come without risk and it was with some relief that Business Development Director Julie Williams said:

“I am delighted to report that more than 4,000 delegates prebooked tickets to attend and over 100 of the sector’s most influential innovators have been sharing their expertise in the CPD Accredited Masterclass sessions. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the exhibitors for putting their faith in us. The hall is full and packed with feature builds with everything from a transporter hauling a module and a new innovative ‘room in the roof’ system together with a double height and single-storey light steel frame exhibition stands and even a couple of two-storey apartments.

“After the challenges of the last year or so we wanted an event to celebrate the coming together of the offsite industry and one that will be remembered for years to come, for not only the highly informative content but importantly, the first time we could all get together for face-to-face business meetings.”

Offsite Connect

The Offsite Connect business forum offers a structured, highly effective way for buyers and specifiers to meet with new and existing offsite industry suppliers exhibiting at Offsite Expo. The last forum was a major success and this year the uptake was said to be exceptional. With over 80 buyers taking part including high-profile housing developers such as Barret and Persimmon, as well as main contractors Kier and Morgan Sindall. In Covid-safe surroundings over 330 business meetings are planned – many of which have taken place.

Offsite Awards

Day one of Offsite Expo will culminate in the Offsite Awards, co-located at the event. As the finalists nervously await the outcome 400 places have been booked to attend this hotly contested awards event. Details of the winners will be announced tomorrow. For more information on the finalists visit:

Last-Minute Opportunity

Time is running out but there is still a last-minute opportunity to attend day two of Offsite Expo where prominent speakers will deliver CPD Accredited Masterclass sessions and over 100 exhibitors will be showcasing advanced offsite technologies. Tickets are free – to register go to:

Premier Modular, one of the UK’s leading offsite construction specialists, has been awarded a £9.8m project for Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to build a 62-bed Priority Assessment Unit at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey.

 Main contractor Premier will be supported by strategic delivery partner Claritas Group. Due for completion by summer 2021, this fast-track building project will reduce the programme by up to nine months compared to in-situ construction. The speed of offsite manufacturing and fitting out will allow earlier occupation to support the increased demand for emergency care.

Designed by BDP and delivery architects P+HS, the two-storey scheme will provide a new Priority Assessment Unit. It will be linked to the Emergency Department and will accommodate 62 patient bays, nurse stations, staff rooms, seminar rooms, laundry, clean utilities, and kitchenettes. The new unit will be fitted with medical gases, datacomms, security systems, CCTV, nurse call systems, and fully integrated with the main hospital.

Andrew Grimes, Assistant Director of Property and Capital Development, said, “This project forms part of the Trust’s emergency pathway redevelopment programme, which is now underway, and responds to the urgent national need to increase capacity in emergency care.”

“Offsite construction means less time on site and therefore much less disruption to patient care, which is a priority for the Trust. The Premier solution met the technical constraints of this site, particularly to provide seamless connections at two levels to maintain patient flows between the existing Emergency Department. Premier has demonstrated the flexibility and design capabilities to engineer a bespoke solution for this challenging site, with all the speed, quality and value benefits of offsite construction. We look forward to the successful delivery of this much needed new unit.”

Akshay Khera, Architecture Director at BDP, said, “This project is an example of how striking and unique architectural design, that is also in keeping with its surroundings, can be successfully married with delivery via offsite construction, bringing many benefits including speed, quality and efficiency.”

Dan Allison, Director of Premier Modular, said, “This scheme is ideally suited to offsite construction. It allows the Trust to meet an urgent need to expand capacity for emergency care and the development of a very constrained site. The new building will be located in a courtyard and close to the Emergency Department which will require careful logistical planning. We will be maximising construction and fitout work offsite to radically reduce disruption to patient care. This means we will only be on site for just over six months.”

The offsite solution has been engineered to maintain patient flows between the existing facilities and the new unit, with continuous level floors throughout. Externally, the assessment unit will be finished in vertical rainscreen cladding in shades of grey and brickwork to complement adjacent buildings.

The building envelope has been designed to be highly thermally efficient to reduce running costs and carbon emissions, and the picture windows will have solar control glass and integral brise soleil sunshading. A building energy management system (BeMS) will optimise energy use.

The project was procured through the Crown Commercial Service framework.

Premier develops bespoke building solutions for highly constrained hospital sites which may be completely inaccessible for in-situ construction. Existing facilities can also be expanded rapidly and cost effectively, both vertically and horizontally. Its specialist healthcare teams have the expertise to provide purpose-designed facilities for primary care, acute services, and mental healthcare.

Premier uses advanced offsite technology to construct fast-track healthcare schemes of the highest quality, with less disruption to staff and patients, improved quality, shorter build programmes, and greater assurance of completion on time and on budget.

For further information, visit, call 0800 316 0888 or email

New office pushes the limits of modular construction

“Visitors’ reaction to the building is just ‘wow’. And they can’t believe that it’s a modular building.” That was a comment from one of Wernick’s staff, Naomi Parratt, whose office is in the new building.

Designed by Wernick’s in-house architectural team, the new building aims to push the limits of offsite construction and uses its new Swiftplan® system. It features a high-quality external and internal finish and is packed with sustainable features with the building achieving an EPC rating of ‘A’ and BREEAM rating of excellent.

Using the latest in modular offsite technologies, the building is made up of 28 modules which were constructed at Wernick’s dedicated manufacturing facility in South Wales, then transported to site via lorry and installed by the Wickford team.

Wernick Buildings Director, Andy King, whose team designed the new offices, commented; ‘Modular ‘offsite’ construction delivers shorter project times and reduces costs when compared to traditional construction methods. The fact that much of the work is done ‘offsite’ in a controlled factory environment means the whole building programme is greatly reduced, saving on costs and greatly reducing waste – the percentage of waste recycled and diverted from landfill for this project was 98%!”

The modern external design is covered in Trespa external wall cladding plus a very striking timber Brise Soleil. This is complemented by an attractive two-story glass entrance.

When you enter the building, you are immediately dazzled by the double-height lobby which has an exposed CLT ceiling and porcelain tiled floor. Here, receptionists can answer and transfer calls on-screen using the new telephone software.


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Over the two floors of the building you can find glass partitioned open-plan office areas, meeting rooms, staff welfare facilities (including a shower) and the new canteen with state-of-the-art catering facilities. Set up for client and staff presentations, the large board room also impresses with its large mahogany table, leather chairs and 85” TV.

The addition of air-con in all the rooms enhances the comfort and productivity of staff – who can adjust settings using a mobile app. Interior finish is complemented perfectly with brand new furniture which gives a consistent, corporate look whilst creating an inviting work environment for the entire Head Office team.

The BREEAM excellence rating was achieved with sustainable additions such as 10kw of photovoltaics (PV) panels on roof of building, electric car charging points and aptly some nesting boxes for Swifts (bird).

Wernick’s Chairman, David Wernick commented; ‘‘We believe our Swiftplan® system will help change the perception that modular buildings are a temporary solution. The new offices show what can be achieved, and we welcome visitors to come and see this building for themselves. I would like to thank all our staff who were involved in this project. A job well done!”’

The two-storey structure was part of a £3 million redevelopment which also included a new modular building for Wernick’s local Buildings and Hire teams, who moved into their new surroundings sited opposite in March 2019.


About the Wernick Group of Companies:

The Wernick Group is the oldest modular and portable company in the United Kingdom and has been family owned and run for over 80 years. The Group has been headquartered at Wickford since 1980 and the business is made up of five divisions, with over 700 employees operating out of 32 locations.


To learn more about the company, please visit:


In recent years, there have been major improvements to health and safety in the construction industry. However, the industry still accounts for a high percentage of fatal and major injuries.


Health and safety of staff and visitors is one of the most crucial factors on any construction project, but it can often be overlooked.


Matthew Goff, managing director at Thurston Group, believes that modular construction can help to improve health and safety onsite – he shares his top three health and safety benefits of using modular volumetric construction.


  1. Buildings are manufactured in a quality-controlled environment

Buildings on a traditional construction site pose many health and safety risks to workers, from falls from height to equipment accidents.


But with modular buildings, the majority of the manufacturing process is carried out offsite using specialist machinery in a quality-controlled factory environment, which in turn, reduces waste and increases quality control, leading to a lower environmental impact.


Modular units are then delivered to site pre-fitted with electrics, plumbing, heating, doors and windows and in some cases fixtures and fittings, therefore reducing the time spent onsite and accelerating the overall construction process. In addition, risks can be easily managed in one setting, resulting in enhanced health and safety on site.


  1. Reduction in waste

Modular buildings production ensure that materials are used more efficiently and accurately. On average, 67% less energy is required to produce a modular building and up to 50% less time[2] is spent onsite when compared with traditional methods, resulting in up to 90% fewer vehicle movements around the project which in turn, reduces CO2 emissions.



The impact on the local environment is also reduced, as there is less noise, packaging and emissions. These matters will have been addressed and resolved in the factory, which allows for greater efficiencies in environmental control measures and materials.


In addition, when a modular building is built to comply with specific sustainability standards, such as BREEAM, buildings can use resources more efficiently and may see a reduction in energy consumption and operational costs.


  1. Offsite can provide safer working conditions

Modular construction provides safer working conditions. The factory-based conditions of offsite enable safety requirements to be more easily met and policed, which leads to better build quality through improved quality control procedures.


Not only is there a reduced risk of slips, trips and falls – particularly as work at height is reduced – but there is also a reduction in onsite activity, thus ensuring health and safety always remains a top priority from start to finish.


Furthermore, if necessary, factory operations can continue 24/7 with less risk of noise and disruption to workers. Work is also unaffected by the weather and other environmental delays, which could result in the project being turned around even quicker.


To find out more about Thurston Group, contact the team on 0333 577 0883 or visit




Following increasing calls for the industry to modernise its approach, off-site and modular construction has become a big topic, with more developers and contractors favouring off-site and modular methods over the more traditional. Here, Rod McLachlan, SIPS Category Manager at Marley Modular Systems, discusses the increasing role of Structural Insulated Panel Systems (SIPS) within the housing sector and how they have helped to innovate off-site construction.


With an estimated 340,000 homes needed to be built every year between now and 2031 in order to satisfy the demand for social, private and affordable housing1, it is no surprise that offsite and modular construction are often dubbed as a potential solution. Indeed, the modern methods carry many benefits; with perhaps the primary one being the ability to save valuable time on site, with large portions of the structure pre-assembled in a controlled factory environment and less likelihood for delays caused by poor weather. Indeed, projects that implement off-site construction can be completed between 30% and 50% faster than other, more traditional methods2.

As a result of this change in approach, architects and contractors are increasingly embracing new products and materials that offer a more efficient, adaptable and modern way of working – one of those being SIPS.

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While the concept of SIPS was first developed in the US in 1930’s, since then the technology has fast evolved, and it is now a well-established building method. Indeed, the use of SIPS in the UK continues to grow at an exponential rate – no doubt driven by the modern offsite approach and the urgent need for high-quality housing to be built quickly and efficiently.

A Structural Insulated Panel is perhaps one of the most energy efficient and advanced modern building materials. Constructed from an insulated core, sandwiched between Oriented Strand Boards (OSB), the panels offer a well-established alternative to traditional building techniques. As well as providing a high-strength and lightweight building solution, the systems also offer excellent inherent fabric performance and airtightness, alongside thermal and acoustic properties, to deliver a simple and streamlined construction programme, with the insulation already built in.

What’s more, many reputable SIPS manufacturers will provide the option of specifying either standalone panels or panelised walls suitable for volumetric construction, ready for on-site assembly. For example, Marley Modular System’s SIPS, which is both BBA and NHBC certified, can be supplied in prefabricated wall or roof sections, all of which are complete with structural openings for doors and windows, allowing for ease of assembly. Manufactured in a state-of-the-art factory, the panels are fabricated to exact customer dimensions for each project, allowing the overall building to be easily assembled on site, with less likelihood of snags occurring or re-work being required.

Of course, as well as considering the speed and ease of assembly, it is also important to ensure that the houses being constructed are of sound build and high-quality, providing their occupants with a comfortable space in which to live. This is another area that SIPS can exceed in, being incredibly versatile in terms of design and capable of easily meeting the Part L requirements of the Building Regulations. Passing the SAP calculation is also greatly simplified, due to the panels’ avoidance of linear heat losses at junctions. Indeed, Marley’s factory-assembled bespoke wall and ceiling panels can be produced with foam filled joints to help further improve the thermal performance of a building, in turn translating into lower energy bills for occupants and end-users.

A building’s acoustic performance is also an equally important concern, with nuisance noise being a major problem in the built and urban environment. As a result of its multi-density make-up, high-quality SIPS can help to cut sound transmission by 38dB – a significant reduction.

SIPS are also an extremely cost-effective choice. While savings will ultimately vary depending on client specification, the completed cost of the project can be as much as 30% less than those employing traditional construction methods, making SIPS a particularly good building material for local councils and authorities, where budgets may be tight.

If it’s a cost effective, versatile and efficient building solution that you need, then SIPS are the perfect option. The benefits of specifying the offsite, factory-produced system are clear, enabling it to be delivered to site as and when required, saving on valuable site space, as well as being quick to assemble, with virtually no waste and minimal re-work required, a result of it being fabricated to specific customer requirements.

Faced with the problem of having to explain a complicated notion it is sometimes helpful to draw on an analogy. The conundrum of how to capture the golden thread of information through a design and build cycle to properly support effective operation and maintenance of a residential development could rightly be considered one such complicated notion.

In many cases, drawing on an analogy with a natural phenomenon is particularly useful if an audience already has some semblance of understanding of the physical entity, and can therefore easily link related concepts. In this instance, I am going to employ the idea of a river as the natural phenomenon that has parallels with the task of capturing the golden thread of information.

In terms of relevant characteristics of rivers, it is worth highlighting certain features which will hopefully assist in bringing the analogy to life. As the graphic below shows, such features contribute to the overall eco-system of a river and can include the following: sources of water; water flow; the concept of a water course; tributaries; a channel; a meander; a watershed; volume and velocity; and a delta.

Consider how, with a river, the volume and velocity of the body of water at the mouth forming the delta is directly influenced by the sources that contributed to the initial flow, plus any further rainfall that might have occurred as the body of water gradually builds over the entire water course. The sources of a river typically flow through independent tributaries before combining at points over the water course to form the main body of water flow.

Consider also that a river does not typically follow a linear path in travelling from sources to destination: it meanders contingent upon the topography of the land it traverses over, but is largely directed to flowing in channels between watersheds that have become defined over time due to effects such as erosion. Since some water is always lost to factors such as evaporation and spillage to flood plains, the volume and velocity of the body of water at the mouth of the river only comprises the water that needs to form the delta before spilling into an ocean.

Capturing the golden thread

The challenges associated with creating a complete and accurate digital record for a new residential development from conception, through the design and build cycle to practical completion, are typically pernicious. As with the analogy, the golden thread of information for a residential development emerges from multiple sources and there are many potential points across the design and build cycle where this information can be amended or embellished, or indeed where new information can be created.

Like a river, these multiple sources and additional downstream activities have the effect of causing the body of information to steadily grow. Accordingly, the complexity of capturing the golden thread of information for a residential development can be likened to controlling flow in a digital river. Often, the initial sources of the golden thread of information are manifold, comprising inputs from the manufacturers of raw materials, components and equipment (i.e. assets) that might be incorporated in a residential development. Subsequent activity facilitates ever-increasing definition of product comprising these assets and also elaboration of build logic which further enhances the body of information forming the golden thread, with the volume and velocity of information generation increasing with time. Again, as with the analogy, a typical design and build cycle does not follow a linear path and is often highly iterative in nature, much like the meandering of a river.

Unlike the case with the physical entity, topography in the human-made landscape is actually defined using artificial constructs such as model inter-operability scheme, execution plans, stipulations relating to organisational information requirements, and information management maps. Additionally, a framework such as the RIBA Plan of Work which helps define broad stages of the design and build cycle to practical completion from Stage 0 (Strategic Definition) to Stage 6 (Handover and Close Out) is usually employed to help maintain design and build activity within the confines of boundaries. These multiple artificial constructs are often configured to be bespoke to individual organisations, or indeed projects within the same organisation, and can be considered similar to the concept of channelling a river between watersheds.

In recent times, there have been advances in technology such as digital design software solutions and common data environments that can be used to help create a complete and accurate digital record for a residential development. These tools can be considered to represent additional artificial constructs that can help facilitate control of information flow, so in a sense they are also akin to the concept of channelling a river between watersheds. But equally, there have been important changes in the way parties engaged on a project work together which are also yielding influence. Furthermore, we have seen the emergence of new standards and codes of practice associated with the likes of naming conventions, common language definition, data exchange and building of information models, all of which also constitute artificial constructs which are intended to make the process of capturing the golden thread easier. This wealth of change in working practice is equivalent to adaptations in topography in the analogy.

Under normal circumstances, it is easy to comprehend how the fragmented nature of conventional construction approaches cause complexity in terms of information authoring and liability, and subsequent revision control, which acts to thwart and frustrate the process of capturing the golden thread of information to properly support effective operation and maintenance of a completed residential development. This complexity might arise due to a lack of foresight regarding the need to capture and manage information from potential sources ab initio, or from a lack of application of the artificial constructs required to control information flow over the design and build cycle. In contrast to the re-generative nature of a river eco-system which essentially constitutes a closed loop system, it is often the case that the lack of application or even inappropriate artificial constructs can lead to the evolution of a form of extractive process which is overly linear with many disconnects and embedded wasteful logic reflecting an ineffective approach to capturing the golden thread.

Notwithstanding, it is reasonable to take a perspective of end-state requirements and attempt to categorise the information that should constitute a complete and accurate digital record for a new residential development. Such end-state requirements would be somewhat akin to the body of water that needs to form a delta being directly influenced by all sources that contributed to the flow. At high level, these requirements should include:

  • Why was it built?
  • What was actually built?
  • When was it built?
  • Who played a part in the design and build process?
  • How was it built?

This information, constituting a definition of end-state requirements, is captured on the graphic below, along with a rough mapping of the RIBA Plan of Work stages through to practical completion. This definition of requirements provides useful insight insofar as it cements a really important concept regarding information which will provide the basis of the golden thread cannot be created in a single moment in time ex nihilo towards the end of the design and build cycle.

Indeed, it is plainly the case that since information is continuously authored from the very outset of a project and evolves progressively through the design and build cycle, there are manifold problems to overcome associated with managing currency, relevance, accuracy and robustness of the same from conception to practical completion and handover.
Starting at the source

The fact is that despite all the technology improvements, and the significant cultural shift towards more collaborative working, conventional construction approaches are still largely inefficient, and frequently flawed in terms of capturing the golden thread. It is interesting to note that even today there are many organisations across the construction sector involved in residential development who adopt a default position of employing junior level resource towards the end of a project to try to collect and collate relevant information falling in the categories referred above.

Whilst such a position is admirable in the sense it at least represents an attempt to capture the golden thread, it is common that this sort of approach can result in critical information being missed or lost, akin with the concepts of evaporation and spillage to flood plains in the analogy. Of course, it could be argued that these organisations do not really comprehend what creating a complete and accurate digital record implies, because what it should definitely not mean is curating a plethora of scanned drawings and other relevant project documentation that cannot properly support effective operation and maintenance.

Much is being made at present of the importance of the construction sector finding ways to leverage productivity, and organisations involved in residential development are not exempt from this challenge. There have been numerous publications, including material from central Government that sets out the aspiration to transform performance with more focus to be brought to bear on leveraging productivity, driving innovation and developing and training new talent. In the simplest terms, the productivity problem can actually be characterised as either generating higher levels of output using the same levels of input, or generating the same levels of output using reduced levels of input.

Nothing in the typical, conventional construction approach to capturing the golden thread of information is helping to yield improved productivity. This is because the resource typically being employed to collect and collate relevant information are not authoring information, nor are they really managing the same, and often the task is deemed to be unglamorous, so at best they could be considered to represent additional input cost which has limited likelihood of generating the required quality of output from fragmented input sources.
Charting a unique course

At Berkeley Modular, we have sought to examine everything from first principles. We are a business focused on the offsite manufacture, as opposed to offsite construction, of three-dimensional primary structural product (i.e. Category 1 in accordance with the recently published MMC definition framework). We have been afforded the luxury of time to conceive how we can apply lean thinking to information authoring, capturing and revision control, as well as to our manufacturing and assembly logic.

The result of this thinking time has yielded a transformative methodology for creating digital connectivity compared to conventional construction approaches. The work we have undertaken to create a Digitally Enabled Agile Manufacturing (DEAM) platform has focused on how technology can help resolve the conundrum of capturing the golden thread of information from the very start of the development process to the point of practical completion and handover. This DEAM platform we have developed has been configured to encompass the following:

  • Digital capture of information from source – We have deployed certain options from the coBuilder suite of software to configure the DEAM platform to facilitate a single source of truth for all assets to be incorporated in a residential development. These options represent the tributaries that allow information to be authored by manufacturers’, and subsequently filtered and fed to other components of the DEAM platform
  • Digital creation of design information – With the help of Majenta, we have deployed certain options from the Autodesk suite of software to configure the DEAM platform to facilitate a product lifecycle management tool wherein digital geometries and build logic definition are automatically linked to asset information in a common data environment. These options represent the topography that allow Berkeley Modular to author design and build definition, and subsequently filter and feed to other components of the DEAM platform
  • Digital creation of manufacturing instruction – Working with DAS, we have deployed computational rule-based logic to obtain high levels of design automation to support the efficient creation of data-rich, fully federated digital models and related manufacturing machine code. This logic represents watersheds that afford authoring of automated build definition by Berkeley Modular, which can be filtered and fed to other components of the DEAM platform
  • Digital management of supply chain, operations and finance activity – We have deployed certain options from the Oracle Fusion suite of software to configure the DEAM platform with an ERP environment which facilitates a single source of truth for all aspects of operational activity at Berkeley Modular comprising a design and build cycle. This environment represents further topography that allows capture of all transactional information authored by Berkeley Modular, and subsequent filtering and feeding to other components of the DEAM platform
  • Digital instruction of manufacturing and assembly activity – We have deployed certain options from the Siemens suite of software to configure the DEAM platform with an MES environment which facilitates a single source of truth for organising and communicating all facets of physical activity performed by Berkeley Modular. These options represent final elements of topography that afford capture of work instruction to both machine and human resource across all factory and site operations, which can be filtered and fed to other components of the DEAM platform

The challenge of creating a productive business operation whilst simultaneously addressing the conundrum of how to capture the golden thread of information has required us to think carefully about digitisation in general, but in particular about responsibility and liability for information authoring, and subsequent revision control. The technological platform outlined above represents certain of the artificial constructs we needed to configure, but in reality this platform is actually supplemented with a combination of other industry-standard and customised constructs that help shape the topography to allow the channelling and progressive capture of information in an efficient, lean manner.

There are plentiful example initiatives from across the construction sector wherein investment has been made into new technological platforms with an expectation that the same will readily yield increased productivity and capture of the golden thread, Despite these examples being many in number, it is somehow still common for expectation associated with the investment to be inflated, yet finding the right solution is not easy and often people easily become disenchanted and disillusioned which impacts the intended outcome. Hopefully the insights presented here regarding the complexity of creating a complete and accurate digital record to properly support effective operation and maintenance of a residential development being likened to controlling flow in a digital river represent a useful contribution to the field and will help steer future initiatives towards more successful and rewarding outcomes.

For more information please visit

Written by Graham Cleland, director at Berkeley Modular

Fassa Bortolo, one of the leading Italian manufacturers of renders and integrated building systems has brought its popular Fassarend timber frame system to the UK market, making off site construction easier than ever.

To meet the soaring demand for timber frame and modular builds, this system is made with the potential to be installed off or onsite. Using a four-stage application process, light-weight carrier boards are mechanically fixed onto the frame batons and finished on site with Fassa’s high quality, thin-coat render, either by hand or by machine once the project reaches the final stages.

With superb insulation options, this system can be combined with a mechanical external wall insulation (EWI) rail system, in the form of mineral wool or Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) inside the timber frame, to help the build reach a required u-value and reduce emissions, as well as protect the structural integrity of the frame from any foreseeable damage.

The Fassarend timber frame system has been third party certified by KIWA BDA and approved by the National Housebuilding Council (NHBC).

For more information please visit

Invisible Connections is currently working with precast concrete and DfMA specialist SCC Design Build to construct stair cores at Manchester Airport.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is undertaking a transformation programme that will position the airport as a ‘Global Gateway’, offering more routes and creating increased economic growth in line with aviation forecasts.

As part of this development the airport is expanding its terminal facilities, apron space and customer car parking facilities to accommodate increased demand.

With many MSCP projects already to its name, SCC Design Build (working for BAM) successfully manufactured and constructed the precast concrete frame and cores (incorporating flights and landings) at the newly completed 6,500 space ‘meet and greet’ MSCP at Terminal 1 and Terminal 3.

As part of its innovative build process, SCC Design Build (‘SCC’) used telescopic connectors by Invisible Connections extensively throughout the structural frame and cores, being SCC’s tried and trusted connection solution for rapid construction.

With a clear pedigree in car park construction and an existing presence on the airport, SCC was the natural choice by Galliford Try for the newest 7,669 space car park that will link to Terminal 3 and have buses to the other terminals.

Although a steel frame was chosen for this latest car park, SCC was appointed to construct the stair cores in precast concrete, chosen for its fire properties and the stabilisation of the structural steel frame.

There are 10 stair cores in total, which vary in height up to 5 storeys. All 10 cores incorporate precast flights and landings, with 6 of the cores also housing the lift-shafts.

Building on the success of several previous project collaborations, Invisible Connections was chosen by SCC for its landing-to-wall system of telescopic connectors. The RVK101-30 pinned connection detail was specified to tie landings to the core walls (tying into REDiBOX PIN recess formers) thereby satisfying the Engineer’s design requirements for robustness.

It’s increasingly common to combine precast concrete stairs and landings with core walls which are either precast or poured in-situ. When connection methods are left as an afterthought, using traditional rolled steel support angles is often the only practical, yet inefficient, fixing solution.

With a little up-front planning, there’s much to gain by incorporating telescopic connectors, which come with a host of advantages; such as improved health and safety, robustness compliance, and significantly improved cost effectiveness. Indeed, a recent study found that using telescopic connectors instead of rolled steel angles reduced man hours by 80%, which contributed to a total 33% reduction in direct costs.

For more information please visit

In this article Adam Taylor, Business Development Manager – Building Envelope of the A. Proctor Group outlines the need for designers and manufacturers to understand and embrace a best practice approach to heat, air, moisture management in DfMA.

As the construction industry seeks to address the challenges which relate to the UK’s housing shortage and deliver more energy-efficient buildings across the residential and commercial sectors, it is clear that Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) will form an essential part of the delivery process.

The application of DfMA is ideally suited towards offsite modular construction, with its focus on ease and efficiency of both manufacture and assembly. The benefits of fast-track offsite manufacture for assembly onsite can lead to higher outputs, whilst significantly reducing the project programme time, with less material waste and costs, and fewer delays in relation to snagging and re-working on site.

The A. Proctor Group Ltd as a leading manufacturer of vapour permeable membranes and vapour control layers provides essential best practice advice to designers and manufacturers of offsite modular buildings based upon the proven model of Heat Air Moisture Management (HAMM).

The importance of Heat Air Moisture Management (HAMM) to DfMA

Based upon over 50 years of providing solutions and products for the construction sector we understand that a totally holistic approach is required to DfMA building design. In doing so, the points below consider six core aspects in the process:

  • Building
  • Weather
  • Occupants
  • Heat
  • Air
  • Moisture

For any building to be an energy efficient, healthy, moisture free building envelope there is a clear need to manage the balance of Heat, Air and Moisture movement throughout the process of the building’s life cycle from design, construction, completion and use.

Understanding the importance of these key elements upon the building envelope is crucial to the successful construction and operation of a building. Architects, designers, and off-site construction manufacturers must seek to understand the science behind our buildings, managing the external and internal forces, which impact on the quality of the completed building, its performance in use, as well as the health of its occupants and the wider environment.

Airtightness and modular building design

There is absolutely no question that an integral part of modern building design is influenced by energy efficiency. In the EU it is estimated that buildings account for approximately 40% of energy consumption and are responsible for some 36% of CO2 emissions. Closer to home, around 45% of UK CO2 emissions come from the built environment, (27% from domestic dwellings and 18% from non-domestic).

As thermal insulation requirements have increased over the last few years, the proportion of energy lost through air leakage has become more evident. The ever-increasing thermal insulation required will, however, be rendered largely ineffective unless the airtightness of the structure itself is addressed. Air leakage greatly reduces the effect of thermal insulation; therefore if energy efficiency is to be improved within buildings, this is the most critical area to focus on.

In addition to improved insulation, energy efficient heating systems will also be ineffective if warm air can escape the building and cold air can seep in. This is reflected in the fact that total space heating costs in an airtight construction may be considerably less than in a leaky one.

Air leakage through cracks, gaps, holes and improperly sealed elements such as doors and windows can cause a significant reduction in the performance of even thermally insulated envelopes.

Effective airtightness design

The two main ways to achieve airtightness in the building envelope are internally or externally, or in other terms, “inside of the services zone’ or ‘outside of the services zone’.

Traditional use of internal air barriers can be more complex and costly to install, due to the need to accommodate building services such as electrical, lighting, heating and drainage systems. An internal air barrier is only as good as it’s installation. If all the service penetrations are not adequately sealed, performance will be compromised.

For many years, external air barriers have been commonly specified in North American building design and construction. By moving the air barrier to the external side of the structural frame, external air barrier systems such as Wraptite® from A. Proctor Group allow for an almost penetration-free airtight layer, which can be installed faster and more robustly. This offers an effective but simple system comprising a self-adhesive vapour permeable air barrier membrane, plus vapour permeable sealing tape, Wraptite Corners and Wraptite Liquid Flashing, and provides effective secondary weather protection while preventing trapped moisture and air leakage. Far simpler than internal options an external air barrier system like Wraptite will maintain the envelope’s integrity, with less building services and structural penetrations to be sealed, and less room for error.

Fixing Options for Air & Vapour Control

The traditional forms of VCLs and airtightness membranes will often require mechanical fixing. In the case of timber structures using steel staples, and on concrete using a separate double-sided adhesive tape. The self-adhered nature of Wraptite allows for a simple and fast installation process, minimising the use of additional sealants and tapes, and requiring no specialist contractors to achieve a robust result. This one-step solution provides both a damage resistant air barrier layer and effective secondary weather protection in one installation process, allowing a wind and watertight envelope to be achieved more quickly than using traditional methods.

TopHat incorporates Wraptite into the design

One of the UK’s leading modular housing manufacturers TopHat has successfully incorporated Wraptite into the design of its high-quality timber-framed homes.  Wraptite is a patented external air barrier membrane system, which offers manufacturers and designers of modular and off-site buildings the ability to reliably and comfortably exceed current airtightness requirements. Wraptite is the only self-adhering vapour permeable air barrier certified by the BBA and combines the important properties of vapour permeability and airtightness in one self-adhering membrane.

The A. Proctor Group provides a range of high-performance membranes to address the requirements of heat, air, moisture management within the building element, and provides comprehensive guidance using modelling & analysis tools to ensure compliance and guide designers and manufacturers on best practice related to DfMA.

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Deceuninck Commercial Sales Manager John Duckworth explains how the company’s holistic approach to commercial projects benefits the specifier, contractor and end user.

Windows are a key part of the build process, providing natural light, protection from the elements and ventilation. They also have great architectural importance by helping to define the overall character of a building and create visual interest.

The latest innovations in window technology has given developers and specifiers a choice of materials, styles and designs to choose from. The very best of this technology also works seamlessly with modern construction methods to create the right aesthetics, reduce installation time and improve the building’s overall performance. Choosing the right supplier is critical in this process.

Deceuninck is a leading window systems company with strong ties in the commercial and housebuilding sector. We work with a number of large developers including Crest Nicholson, Catalyst Housing, Countryside Properties and Berkeley Group. Developers choose Deceuninck because our high performance window systems are engineered for aesthetics, with perfect symmetry and balanced sightlines, and they’re tried-and-tested for commercial applications. Linktrusion™ is our flagship window technology that combines pultruded glass-fibre with PVC-U in Deceuninck’s 5000 window for light and strong windows with slim sightlines and outstanding thermal efficiency. In terms of performance and benefits, Linktrusion™ combines the very best of PVC-U and aluminium, and developers love it, often choosing Deceuninck windows over aluminium, and in Deceuninck’s Grey Matt foil on grey substrate, it’s hard to tell them from aluminium.

Commercial partnership

Product is half the story and Deceuninck’s success comes down to our holistic approach to commercial projects. We work closely with developers, specifiers, fabricators and contractors to look at the full picture of how windows work within the build, be it timber frame, steel frame or modular, to get the best results for our clients.

Our commercial team works with partners to ensure products not only meet technical specifications but are correctly installed and perform effectively in the finished project. We supply accurate data and test results on performance and acoustics, a growing and important point of specification. Working with Bluesky Certification and the University of Salford, we’re the first PVC-U systems company to commit to acoustic testing of our full range because it gives fabricator customers a big advantage in the tender process.

The Hinkley Point Worker Accommodation development is an example of a technically demanding project in which 80% of the 1,400 windows were installed into pre-fabricated modules off-site. Working in partnership with fabricator Dempsey Dyer, Deceuninck’s technical team ensured our Tilt and Turn windows met the highest energy and weather requirements both off-site and in installation. Once assembled, the windows passed the most stringent CWCT water testing, normally only used for curtain walling. Deceuninck’s technical team worked with Dempsey Dyer to successfully cut the windows’ decibel rating down by RW35db to RW40db and RW43db, helping to minimise the impact of noise on workers and make a quieter, healthier environment.

The Woodward Building at Imperial College London is another example of Deceuninck’s strong ties with developer, contractor and fabricator. Despite the complex requirements for aesthetics, weather performance, acoustics and safety, Deceuninck and fabricator Dempsey Dyer successfully broke the original specification for aluminium, bringing a 30% saving for the client. Our 2500 Tilt and Turn window impressed developer Berkeley Group with outstanding performance: Class 4 Air permeability; Class 8A Water tightness and Class A5 2000Pa exposure. The windows delivered U-Values of 1.5 and G-Values of 0.27 to prevent overheating in the building. Safety and durability were also important factors, and Deceuninck’s Tilt and Turn window is ideal for high-rise and student developments because it can be locked in the tilt mode for added safety and unlocked by maintenance teams when cleaning is required. The installation process included full EPDM shrouding and on-site water testing, and was completed on time and in full. Due to the success of this project, Berkeley Group has awarded Dempsey Dyer further contracts, and Deceuninck is now an approved supplier for the developer.

Call 01249 816 969 or visit the website to see more exciting commercial case studies and learn more about our commercial work. You can also download Deceuninck’s full product portfolio from the NBS National BIM Library at

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