Innovative Construction Research Centre

Stuart Green, Will Hughes, Jennifer Whyte, Colin Gray, Roger Flanagan, Abbas Elmualim, Tabarak Ballal, Milan Radosavljevic, Graeme Larsen, Rachael Luck, Phebe Mann, Llewellyn Tang, Martin Sexton, Chris Harty, Roine Leiringer.

Overview description

The Centre was initially established in January 2002 with a grant of £2.5M from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The establishment of the Centre brought together a portfolio of internationally leading research areas within the School of Construction Management and Engineering (SCME). The award was subsequently extended in 2006 with a further grant of £3.73M, thereby extending the time horizon of the Centre through to 2011.The ICRC's vision of construction is much broader than that traditionally addressed by the construction management (CM) research community. In our interpretation, 'construction' extends beyond on-site production to include a dispersed network of intangible value-adding activities. Such activities frequently involve coalitions of multiple actors that evolve throughout the whole life of buildings and built infrastructure. Our vision embraces the entire range of construction services provided by the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector, including design, procurement and through-life management. Policy debates within manufacturing increasingly advocate the need for the UK to focus on 'high value manufacturing'. The vision is of a manufacturing sector which focuses on the provision of 'high value' solutions through the integration of products and services. Of central importance is the required switch in emphasis from selling generic products towards developing the capability to address customers' unique requirements. The emphasis therefore lies with the need to generate significant value externally rather than focus on narrowly-construed production efficiency.

Our vision resonates strongly with the policy agenda and with the current aspirations of leading firms. The aim is to provide long-term research support to firms within the AEC sector who seek to compete on the basis of through-life value creation. Moreover, our vision sees construction in the context of global projects and advanced technology use. It sees a construction sector that is of central importance to the UK economy and to the health and wellbeing of society at large. The vision of high value construction relates directly to government policy objectives in health, education and transport. It also places construction sector at the nexus of society's aspirations for social, economic and environmental sustainability. Central to the ICRC's remit is the stimulation of innovation in practice.

The ICRC possesses a distinctive interdisciplinary research capability with a strong orientation towards co-production research, which is characterised by close relationships between academics and industry partners which transcend individual projects. Our strong connections with industry are reflected in the fact that our resources-in-kind contributions exceed £3m. Successful co-production research requires interdisciplinary expertise. To this end, the ICRC has actively fostered an interdisciplinary research capability relating to socio-technical systems research in the built environment. The strategy is to create a unique research expertise at the interface between human activity systems and technology in the context of the built environment. This expertise has been nurtured since the Centre was first created in 2002, and is mobilised across a range of projects aligned with the vision of high value construction. The focus on socio-technical systems, coupled with a strong commitment to co-production, has led to a recognisable style and ethos of research that is central to the self-identity of the ICRC. The research approach is underpinned by a commitment to methodological pluralism which combines engineering research approaches with those derived from the social sciences. This strong sense of research identity is central to the way we interact with industry partners, and is reflected in the majority of our published outputs. For further information please visit Innovative Construction Research Centre

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