Platform Design: the Forge project

Author: Bryden Wood

Date published

5 October 2023

Price
Free

Platform Design: the Forge project

Tag
Author
Date published
Price
Blog
Author

Bryden Wood

Date published

5 October 2023

Author

Bryden Wood

Price

Free

In 2021, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority announced that the Government will mandate a platforms approach for social infrastructure. This blog, by Bryden Wood, explores some of the findings from the work they did on the Forge, with particular focus on the gains achieved by the project team.

The following blog is a reworked extract from Bryden Wood’s new book: Platforms in Practice, a detailed, worked example of how platform theory has been translated into platform practice.

The book focuses on a compelling exploration of the world’s first building designed and constructed using this approach and its productivity gains that prove the power of platforms to transform infrastructure delivery. The second blog in this pair, focusses on this project, The Forge.
 

The client brief

The Forge, at 105 Sumner Street in central London, is the first private sector building completed using the platform approach, from building design to delivery. The project comprises two new-built commercial office buildings designed and engineered by Bryden Wood for Landsec, one of the UK’s largest real estate companies. These buildings are built around a publicly accessible internal courtyard, with a total area of approximately 139,000ft² net internal area.

To accomplish a 9m x 9m grid, which is typical of London offices, the building uses common, repeatable components developed for Platform II.
This carrier frame then allowed supply chain partners (particularly the M+E and façade) to develop their own complementary elements. These would leverage the accuracy and consistency of the main superstructure to enable more productive ways of working.
 

Measuring success

Four key aspects of the platform approach that led to the project’s success were:

  • Prototyping

  • Digital tools

  • Sustainability benefits

  • Productivity gains

Prototyping

To deliver The Forge, a prototype was assembled at the Construction Platforms Research Centre in Ropley, Hampshire. The prototype measured 9m wide by 18m long, with one bay being 2 storeys tall.
It was used to test several aspects:

  • Assembly sequence for ease, productivity and health & safety

  • Timing of activities to understand where improvements could be made and to assess productivity

  • Adoption of semi-automated approaches, such as the use of reach stackers

  • Pouring and setting characteristics of the low-carbon concrete mix

  • Use of ‘Converge’ sensors in the concrete

  • Ability to reuse shutters and props, and on what cycle time

Digital tools

A suite of digital tools was used, sourced from existing products available on the market:

  • Algorithmic design: The platform superstructure was not modelled manually. It was generated through specific routines (Grasshopper and Dynamo) that generated a dataset describing the position and orientation of every component.

  • Leveraged BIM outputs: For the prototype, the BIM model was visualised at the construction site using Trimble’s augmented reality SiteVision product, enabling the team to measure and cross-reference the digital components to the physical components. For the construction of The Forge, models supplied QR codes to track components from factory to installation, transferring off-site benefits to site.

  • Qflow, Disperse.io, Converge and other digital tools were used to support the transfer of data from design and manufacture into assembly and monitor progress and quality on-site.

Sustainability benefits

As well as using a ‘kit of parts’ in its delivery, the design of The Forge adopted a highly rational dimensional strategy that facilitates ongoing maintenance and refurbishment using standardised and repeatable solutions. The platform superstructure then facilitated a very low-carbon solution through the use of the least amount of lowest-carbon material, circularity and reusability.

Productivity gains

Improving productivity was at the heart of this project, and, by consistently delivering on readily achievable installation rates and an improved workflow, the project team was able to significantly reduce the construction cycle times and increase productivity.
In order to ensure knowledge transfer, a study at The Forge was led by Dr Danny Murguia, Research Associate at the Laing O’Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology at the University of Cambridge.
 
This study forms part of wider research being conducted by the University of Cambridge, to develop a performance and productivity framework for the UK construction industry. The study showed that, by consistently delivering on readily achievable installation rates and an improved workflow, it is possible to significantly reduce construction cycle times and increase productivity. The team considers the following targets are viable for the next adoption of platforms:

Superstructure

  • Achieving a consistent installation rate (reducing variability) shows a potential programme reduction of 25%-55%

  • Maintaining a maximum productivity rate could reduce operative hours by 40%.

  • Resequencing the floor plate to minimise periods of inactivity could result in a programme reduction of approximately 40%, achieving a speed similar to precast with double the productivity

Façade

  • Achieving a consistent install rate equivalent to the top quartile performance achieved at The Forge (reducing variability) indicates a potential programme reduction of 40% for the façade installation.

MEP

  • The installation rates achieved for the high-level on floor M+E services using cassette modules at The Forge show programme improvements of 66%-90% are possible compared to traditional install methods.

More broadly the study shows that:

  • P-DfMA offers the potential to double programme productivity

  • P-DfMA can reduce embodied carbon by 20%

  • P-DfMA offers a potential 40% reduction in programme time


Read more in detail about The Forge project

Additional information

Format:
Blog
Publisher:
IStructE

Tags

Research & Innovation Blog Climate change IStructE London HQ Modern Method Construction (MMC) DFMA

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