COVID-19 has written large the complex web in which we live. Every aspect to the crisis clearly sits within a multi-dimensional and fluid matrix of dependencies and consequences. No element can be viewed or managed in isolation.

The same is true of construction, or at least it should be. But over a number of decades, the process of delivering built assets has become fragmented. Responsibility, risk and reward are increasingly split among an array of organisations whose interests are not aligned, and whose view of a project is unhelpfully narrow.

As a result, value is diluted at every stage and clients end up with built assets that are simply not as good as they should be.

There is a better way, and that is to Design to Value.

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Design to value

The most efficient route to the most efficient solution is first to make sure you analyse and understand the commercial opportunity (or requirement) from every angle. Metrics such as capital cost and return on investment, for example, don’t define how well an asset functions in the world. There is much more to it than that. Design should also consider criteria such as the expected lifetime of components and materials, location, climate change, or the wellbeing of the workforce. 

Maximising the value of an asset is finding the right balance of a wide range of criteria.

This approach is well understood and applied in the manufacturing industries, where it is known as ‘design to value.’ Its application is richly informative and highly effective for construction. It leads to objective analysis of every aspect of a process, every element of resource requirement, energy consumption, knowledge, and cost. It leads to testing of the value parameters each of these elements is being measured against. It is rigorous, logical and data-driven.

Design to value may lead to a solution that is very different to the one initially conceived, but it will be a solution that is fully thought through, appropriate and complete. A built asset that delivers value across the piece.

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Digital Design: iterate and refine

Our approach at Bryden Wood  is to dismantle a process rigorously until we reduce it to its smallest components. Then we call on a breadth and depth of expertise to optimise every component, so that when we combine them in the complete solution, the whole will operate to the maximum efficiency of all of its parts.

We create a digital model of every component, containing as much value data as we can source, ranging from energy consumption to physical space requirements to expected lifespan to cost. In the digital design environment, we experiment with a huge number of permutations of components, introducing variables, then measuring, iterating and refining, over and again.

We can see how small changes in one component can have a dramatic consequence at a later stage. And conversely, we can trace inefficiencies and anomalies back to their source. By modelling the effect of several variables simultaneously we can build in flexibility where it’s needed to ensure future viability when circumstances change, which, as current events should teach us, they will.

From the earliest stages, we work with 3D visualisations of processes and physical assets. This allows users to take a virtual reality walk through the process, to test the physical environment and anticipate any issues. It’s proven to be very helpful for people to be able to interact with a potential solution in this immersive way, making it much easier to articulate requirements and assess solutions. 

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Automation in construction 

There are elements of some processes that are unique and so will require a bespoke built solution. But there are also many elements that are, or could be, automated or standardised across multiple processes in one or more sectors and industries. Discovering standardisation adds its own value; not having to reinvent the wheel with every project; being able to apply the learning gathered from previous projects to the current one; and resource and cost efficiencies in all stages of design and production. 

The benefits of standardisation are visible every day in the manufacturing industry, at global scale. At Bryden Wood, we bring them to construction. We used the principles of design to value described above to define a standard set of components and assembly techniques which form the basis of a huge range of buildings, from residential to industrial. 

We called this a Platforms approach to Design for Manufacture and Assembly (P-DfMA). Our Construction Platforms work is well documented and has been endorsed by the UK government for use across its development programme. 

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Evidencing the benefits of design to value

We are currently on site in central London with Landsec, constructing a major commercial office design development using Platforms construction, which is already showing exceptional environmental gains, for example: a 40% reduction in steel used; a forecast 19.4% reduction in embodied carbon per square metre, a 36.4% carbon reduction in the substructure and 20.2% in the superstructure and façade.

In 2019, a new GSK facility started production in Parma, Italy. The initial requirement was to design and build a pharmaceutical facility in 15 months that would usually have taken closer to three years to complete, in order to maintain supply of a life-saving treatment for people with HIV. We achieved this mould-breaking pharmaceutical facility by, as described, investing significant time and focus in modelling the problem before going anywhere near construction. 

The Parma project is an evidenced demonstration that our design to value approach made it possible to design, construct and commission a new pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in record time without increasing budgets or compromising on any aspect of quality.

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A proven approach

At Bryden Wood. we do not come to a project with a ready-made solution. We bring only our design to value approach, using the combined powers of data, technology and imagination to establish what the most effective solution will be. 

We have been working this way for over 25 years, delivering major design and construction projects in pharmaceutical and process facilities, data centres, aviation, healthcare, education, residential, water infrastructure, transport infrastructure, custodial facilities… It has unlimited applications. 

Our approach is proven to deliver better results for the built environment, and for our clients. 

It can be done. It is being done.