The Local Material with Offsite Credentials

11 Jun 2019

Published in: Offsite magazine (pg 70), May/June 2019

The drive for offsite methods of construction aims to increase UK Construction’s productivity, with factory-produced quality and speed on site. With concrete solutions this can be achieved, with the added benefits of a UK supply chain, proven structural performance and a versatile aesthetic.

Precast concrete products are readily available from factories located around the UK. Bespoke units, made to order, can also be manufactured, although lead time should be allowed for design and manufacturing of bespoke units. The UK concrete industry has years of experience working on a vast range of projects and offer a complete service from design through manufacture to installation.

Quality control

Precast products are produced in a factory environment allowing high levels of quality control and uniformity. Production takes place in an enclosed space, giving protection from the weather, allowing manufacture to occur in all conditions. Consistency of material colour and texture is important for architectural precast concrete and precast factories have dedicated concrete supplies ensuring there is consistency of supply. A consistent product can always be produced as the same moulds are reused time and time again.

Sustainable concrete

Designers can influence the sustainability credentials of concrete, with the opportunity to specify responsibly sourced concrete (certified to BES 6001), cement replacements and recycled and secondary aggregates. With a UK manufactured product, with the majority of constituent materials UK sourced, traceability and security of supply is made simpler. More information is available in The Concrete Centre guide Specifying Sustainable Concrete.

Performance in use credentials such as fire, durability and acoustics – together with the ability to use concrete as a finish and avoid the need for additional materials – project teams can meet and exceed client’s expectations on sustainability. The benefits of concrete’s thermal mass can add to the energy efficiency of the building in reducing both heating and cooling loads and therefore running costs.

Designed to last

Concrete is durable, frequently allowing building reuse, rather than replacement. If the building is to be demolished, precast units have the potential to be reused in the future. When considered over the whole life of the building, concrete structures provide a carbon-efficient solution that can be further enhanced by reuse and ultimately provides materials that are fully recyclable at end-of-life.

Range of finishes

Precast concrete can offer a wide range of colours and textures, often with mixes developed to mimic stone. Manufacturers of architectural concrete offer samples for reference, using a wide range of combinations of aggregates, pigments and finishing techniques as well as embedded surface materials such as stone, terracotta/ceramic tiles and brick.

The use of offsite concrete elements and solutions are well established as a construction method throughout the world and provides solutions for a great variety and complexity of layout, shapes and façade treatments. Precast concrete is virtually unlimited in its application including the entire structure or selected elements such as frame, floors, walls, stairs or balconies. The advantages of factory production, combined with the inherent benefits of concrete, provide compelling reasons to use precast concrete.

The Concrete Centre will be at Offsite Expo in September, we hope to see you there.

Written by - Claire Ackerman, director at The Concrete Centre