As designers, we are continually looking for ways to improve our approach to sustainable design – to ensure that we are actively engaged at the forefront of carbon-conscious design and that our teams are constantly striving for ways to soften the impact on the environment which our buildings may have. Environmentally-aware design and Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) are a natural fit; by embracing new technologies – and new methods of designing, fabricating and constructing buildings – we can ensure that our projects are built more efficiently, with less waste, using less energy and to a great overall quality in a reduced timescale. MMC, whether this be a volumetric or panelised modular approach, can also provide an answer to workforce shortages, thus reducing the need for skilled on-site labour and opening up opportunities to train people in new skills.
At Bond Bryan, we have embraced and identified MMC as a key means of achieving our own practice-wide environmental objectives through the projects which we design and deliver and – perhaps more importantly – as an essential way to help to ensure that the construction industry meets its carbon reduction targets over the next decade. Our projects now widely utilise off-site manufacturing principles and other modern methods of construction – and our teams are passionate and committed to adapting to these new technologies as a core part of our business.
Having joined Bond Bryan in 2015, Arthur brought with him a wealth of varied experience garnered through a fruitful career – both in Britain and in his native homeland of France.
Quickly settling into Bond Bryan and becoming a prominent figure in the Westerham studio – especially as a mentor to the more junior members of staff – Arthur applied his decade of multi-national architectural experience to a wide variety of projects. It wasn’t long before Arthur started exploring the benefits of Modular Construction when pencilling out designs for several different projects.
Over time, Arthur became Bond Bryan’s expert in Modern Methods of Construction – sharing his knowledge with colleagues in his studio and across the wider practice, and designing and delivering several part- and fully-modular educational projects.
Over the past five years, Arthur has led Bond Bryan in delivering several award-winning Modular projects, including the recently delivered Robert Clack School in Lymington Fields – the winner of multiple awards, including the Building Project of the Year, and both Sustainability and Offsite Awards at the 2020 Constructing Excellence Awards.
Now, as we move closer to a new year full of new challenges and opportunities, we sat down with Arthur to ask what the future holds for Bond Bryan’s approach to Modern Methods of Construction.
I guess that we really need to re-define the construction industry; we can’t keep doing what we’ve traditionally been doing for the past 100 years. As it is, the construction process is lengthy, it’s costly, and it’s not great for site health and safety or user health and safety. There are definitely a lot of improvements to the construction process that can be gained from MMC – especially given how it pairs very well with digital construction and the improvements to the industry on the digital side in general. With MMC – and certainly modular construction – we can control what happens within a safe factory setting; this means that we can create a safer environment, control sustainability, improve on the products’ performance and how we use them – all leading to a building that performs far better than a traditional construction.
It comes back to my geeky side. I’ve always enjoyed playing with Lego and putting things together – and that’s what modular construction is like at its core. I like looking at the process of improvement: making something in a factory and joining it together on site is an approach that just makes more sense to me. When you go to site and you see people in the cold and rain pouring cement into holes, laying brick after brick after brick, it all comes across as very inefficient – and modular construction is definitely a better way to construct a building for all involved; you can achieve the same aesthetic, the same performance, and the same building – it’s just a better, smoother, and more efficient process.
I think it’s also very interesting from the local perspective. Over time, architecture and construction have lost their diverse ways of working with “the best of local” through the globalisation and monopolisation of construction technologies and methodologies. I think that looking at a different type of building or methodology gives us a different playing field of procurement – so that we can bring the local aspect back to construction through working with local modular suppliers and innovators. This is how we can champion local craftmanship and embed local identity and social sustainability into the built environment.
Of course, there are a lot of government and private sector initiatives going on, so there’s definitely going to be an increased need for MMC and digital systems in the upcoming years. I think that we’re going to see a lot of development around 3D printing of certain building elements – as well as standardisation and re-definition of how the different elements can work with each other. There are still some inconsistencies across testing and assembly, with some very strong products on the market and some not-so-strong products out there as well, so I think that the next few years will revolve around finding the best products and technologies and standardising them. Hopefully, in the next 5–10 years, we’ll be looking at a whole new industry with brand-new solutions.
Architect of the Year at 2020’s Offsite Awards for the Robert Clack School was such an amazing achievement – and a fantastic recognition of all the hard work that went into that project! Seeing it come along on site was incredible, and being able to see such a fantastic product be built up and delivered was great. When we started with the project, nobody knew how it would end up, but seeing that final product delivered as such an amazing piece of quality – better than a traditionally constructed product – was a great achievement in itself.
A few years back, when I was in university and started looking at these MMCs – or Smart Construction as it was known by then – there was all this talk of 3D printing for the design and construction of buildings, and talk about shipping 3D printers to Mars or the Moon to build there. That’s an idea that’s always captivated me and I’d love to help to build something on another planet!
Bond Bryan view the rise of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) as an opportunity to engage with the construction industry as it evolves to a fundamental shift in how buildings are designed