17 Jan 7 Construction Forecasts for 2014
As Paul Gascoigne put it, ‘we never predict the future… and we never will.’
But in conversation with some of our chums in the industry and with a little help from the Chartered Institute of Building Magazine, we’re not above the odd informed guess or two on what 2014 will bring for the construction sector…
1. It’s going to get busy.
UK construction companies are staying positive about growth thanks to relatively sharp rises in output, new orders and employment at the end of 2013. This from the Markit/CIPS UK Construction PMI survey conducted in December.
The same survey suggests 57% of firms expect to grow over the next 12 months, compared to 10% who anticipate further decline. Ah well, there’ll always be a few pessimists..
2. Project starts
Intelligence provider Glenigan forecasts a 4% increase in project starts for 2014, as private sector investment fuels recovery. Its Construction Prospects for 2014 report indicates that the value of projects receiving detailed planning approval increased in 2013 and a firm development pipeline of future projects is now in place.
3. European growh
The EuroConstruct Review of output predicts UK construction growth of 2.4% and 3.1% in 2014 and 2015.
The forecast for Western Europe as a whole, however, is a rather underwhelming 0.9% and 1.7%. The good news is, these figures mask stronger than average recovery in certain countries, including Ireland (9.8 and 8.2%), Norway (3.6 and 3.7%)
4. Flagship Project Completion
Buy the end of 2014, a significant number of high profile projects will have reached fruition, including two major schemes by Rogers, Stirk & Harbour: the Cheesegrater, aka the Leadenhall Building (Laing O’Rourke) and the World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre at the British Museum (Mace).
Other highlights include O’Donnell and Tuomey’s LSE Student Centre, the candle-lit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe Theatre in London and the extension to the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester.
And North of the border, the Bannockburn Visitor Centre by Reich & Hall may – or may not – be open in time to mark the restoration of an independent Scotland after 113 years of union.
2014 may well see an exodus of British construction professionals to New Zealand, which is enjoying its biggest construction boom in 40 years. An unprecedented 10% per annum growth has led to record levels of building and construction work, and a corresponding influx of skilled labour from around the world.
Not so much ‘Auf wiedersehen’ as ‘E noho rā, Pet.’
6. The Mobile Office
In 2014, more and more of the sector’s knowledge workers will be found working in the ‘coffice’ – a coffee shop, hotel lobby or airport lounge where the background noise provides a buzz but there are no colleagues to cause a distraction. The prediction comes from BT’s professional ‘soonologist’ Dr Nicola Millard, who believes “work is now a state of mind, rather than a place.”
Whether or not the industry’s steelworkers, site engineers, scaffolders and crane drivers will also find a way to work from the ‘coffice’ is something Ms. Millard doesn’t address. Maybe soon…
7. Augmented reality
If real-world construction ever loses its appeal, you may find there are career options opening up in the augmented reality version, where computer-generated environments superimpose themselves onto the real world to create impossible buildings.
According to Futurologist Dr Ian Pearson (that’s the second ‘ologist’ in four paragraphs) “You might look at a completely plain office block and see a spectacularly interesting building in augmented reality. It’s going to be a source of a whole new kind of work in digital architecture and avatar design, populating the virtual streets with interesting stuff.” We’ll believe when we see it.