- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 03 Nov 2017
Self-healing concrete and sweaty roofs: is this the future of buildings?
Concrete that can fix itself, roofing that can sweat and surfaces inspired by carnivorous plants are some of the radical new technologies that hold the key to transforming the building industry, according to a new report.
The study, from the World Economic Forum, looks at how the building industry can adapt to some of the key challenges of the next few decades; from meeting the demands of rapid urbanisation to tackling climate change. Shaping the Future of Construction says that an industry which has been traditionally slow to adopt to technology must now move to embrace it.
Self-healing concrete is one example of the kind of technology which could add years to a building’s life. The material is able to release a healing agent when cracks appear. When the agent comes into contact with a catalyst inside the concrete it turns into a solid, strong polymer.
[Image: Rotzetter ACC/Advanced Materials]
And technology can now mimic a tropical carnivorous plant, the nepenthes, to make surfaces so slippery that they become self-cleaning. The plant uses a slippery surface so that its prey slides inside to be devoured.
Buildings can borrow the same technique for different ends, using a lubricating film makes their surface immiscible to liquid – incapable to mixing with it.
[Image: Wong Laboratory for Nature Inspired Engineering]
[Image: Ellen MacArthur Foundation; World Economic Forum; Boston Consulting Group]
Many practices in the construction industry have not substantially changed in 50 years. Traditional, proven methods and materials are used and builders are often focused on the short-term construction costs rather than the lifetime costs of a project. To reduce waste and increase efficiency, that needs to change.
As an industry that strongly affects the economy, the environment and society as a whole and is the world’s largest consumer of raw materials, the construction industry has a key role to play, according to the report’s authors.
There have already been some exceptionally promising developments and there will be many more. Now we need to start using them.
Written by Keith Breene, Formative Content, World Economic Forum
--Future of Construction 09:37, 19 Jun 2017 (BST)
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
What U-values are, why they matter and how they are calculated.
The need to ensure that we plan for all aspects of our bio-economy
BSRIA calls on government to reach deeper into the causes of pollution.
George Demetri brings a whole new level of technical knowledge to Designing Buildings Wiki.
Quality professionals need to take an active role in driving the completion process forwards.
The innovations needed to move from rhetoric to realisation.
Creating a sense of place, with radically-low running costs and the highest comfort levels.
A conversation between David Mitchell and Caitlin DeSilvey.
A quick guide to brick sizes.
The Union Street development in Southwark was a passion, as well as a business endeavour.
Do our water quality standards demonstrate to the public that their supply is clean?
A third of practitioners do not have easy access to the knowledge they need.
Sustainable approaches to relief, recovery and reconstruction after a natural disaster.