HANS VOORDIJK: Hello. My name is Hans Voordijk. And today’s lecture will be about urbanisation, and the effect it has on where we and under which circumstances we have to build our construction projects. Since the start of the 21st century, a majority of the people lives in cities. There’s a big difference of 100 years ago when only 15% of the people lived in cities. An important reason for this increase in urbanisation is the growth of large cities in Asia and Africa. In last decades, the biggest and fastest urbanisation took place in China. It is forecasted that in the following decades, the amount of people living in cities in Africa will triple. But also in other countries.
For example, France, urbanisation still continues. And depopulation of the countryside is still going on. This trend of urbanisation causes the need for more and more inner city building projects. The amount of inner city building activities grows fast. Obviously, these project cause inconvenience for citizens, companies, and people living close to these projects. These inconvenience creates new challenges for construction companies. A lot of construction activities take place in the same area where people work, shop, live, and go to school. The available building areas is also limited, especially downtown. Besides, in popular areas, life goes on almost 24 hours a day. And not forgetting the traffic that comes with these daily activities.
Not surprisingly, there are large tensions between inner city building activities and urban functions like working, living, and recreating. These tensions create different challenges. First of all, a lot of parties needs to be informed when a big construction project starts. For example, people living near a construction site accomplish located close to the building site. They need to know when a construction project will begin. Communication to these parties and the minimisation of a nuisance is called environment management, which means the management of the environment of the building site. A second challenge is the execution and optimisation of building activities within the regulations of the local government.
There may be regulations about how long you’re allowed to use a public road for your building activities. Or when you are allowed to transport building materials from the border of a city to the city centre. Two important parties that play a major role when talking about environment management, are the building company and the local government. They both have their own way of dealing with the challenges just mentioned. The role of the government will be discussed now. As representatives of the local community, the government, and in particular, the local government, needs to pay more and more attention to the management of the environment of building sites. The local government can approach this on different levels, operational, tactical, and strategic.
First we’ll discuss the operational level. Improving communication with the town citizens is an example of an operational measure. Good communication can eliminate a big part of the subjective experience of the possible disturbances of daily life. When a citizen know on forehand which roads will be closed and when, he can prepare himself. The local government needs to keep in mind that they give the right information at the right time to get a maximum effect of their measures.
At tactical level, the measurements focus on the improvement of regulations and the internal organisation of the local government. It should be clear how big the nuisance of a construction project is before a government adopts regulations to reduce building nuisance. Therefore, the local government needs to communicate what the guidelines are for keeping the livability of the city. Clearly defined criteria are needed before enforcement of rules can begin. And fines can be handed out when regulations are violated. Another measure that can be taken is the introduction of time slots. Each transport truck that wants to enter the city gets a time slot in which he can deliver the goods to the building site located in the city centre.
Another possibility are regulations for how long truck can park in front of a building, and regulations about which areas can be used by trucks as parking place in the city centre. Besides better regulations and tougher enforcement, improvement of the internal organisation of the local government is also a must. For example, the licencing policy can be adapted to the needs of the environment. And one can ask that construction firms meets certain criteria before they get a licence. The government also needs to adjust to the planning of several inner city projects to one another. This requires development of tools and techniques. Some local governments use, for example, planning systems to do this.
Within smaller municipalities the internal alignment is easier, due to short lines of communication. The alignment of internal departments of the government, but also the alignment of governments on different levels is very important. For the different governments, it helps to communicate as one body towards construction companies, project developers, and contractors. So large scale construction projects not only need alignment between departments of a government, but also between governments at the same level and at different levels. This strategic measure is about the corporation of local government, provinces, states, and national government. A more coordinated approach helps these governmental organisations to get a strong position when regulating inner city building projects.
The second major party wants to discuss here are building companies. These companies want to optimise the building processes. Regulations that affect truck movements, the need to decrease building time, and the limited space on a construction site all ask for more insight in the management of the logistics around the building process. Building companies can have a huge impact in the reduction of nuisance, and at the same time increase their own output and profits. As for the government, the improvements can be found on three levels, operational, tactical, and strategic. When talking about operational improvements, you should think about effectively organising the flow of materials and how to do this in urbanised areas.
A popular example are the building sites in the centre of Berlin in the ’90s. In Berlin, the materials were not only transported by roads, but also by train and by ships. The major reason to do this was the uncertainty in arrival of goods at the building side when transporting them by truck. It took too long to transport all building materials by roads. And because of the limited space at the building site, just in time management was introduced. Materials that arrived at the construction site was assembled immediately. The tactical improvements mean a structural thinking about production methods of a construction project when dealing with time and space restrictions.
In urban areas, the building site isn’t much bigger than a building that is going to build there. This means that temporary storage of building materials at a construction site itself is not possible. Therefore construction elements have to be manufactured elsewhere. This means that the manufacturing of certain construction materials should take place in factories located outside of construction sites. These so-called prefabrication of building materials are transported from a factory to the construction site. An example of a prefabricated construction part is a wall complete with doors, insulation, and windows. By using these prefabricated elements, or standardised construction elements, the building project becomes less project-based. The prefabrication of construction parts in controlled environments in factories reduces the demand for space at construction sites.
On a strategic level, also measures can be taken by construction firms. One important long term strategy is information of alliances parties in construction supply chain. In this session we learned that the local government and the construction company are the most important party when dealing with the nuisance created by inner city building projects. Each party has to take measures on an operational, tactical, and strategic level to deal with this nuisance. If these measures are implemented successfully the citizens wouldn’t even notice that a big construction project is going on in that city.