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Last updateThu, 16 Jun 2022 8am

There is optimism in the air and an architectural superstar on TV

Construction National blog logoThe construction industry is finally turning the corner, according to the latest RICS Construction Market Survey, with new projects on the rise in most parts of the country. Even Northern Ireland registered a modest rise. The region has been stubbornly resisting the urge to pick up even when there were signs of growth elsewhere.

According to the RICS: “Since the start of 2013…activity has slowly begun to pick up. During the second quarter of the year a net balance of 21% more surveyors reported rises in workloads, the most positive reading in over six years. While consistently falling activity has meant that projects are still generally speaking thin on the ground, this upturn may suggest that the worst could now be over for the sector.”

The institution’s chief economist Simon Rubinsohn did sound a note of caution: “It is clearly good news that the amount of construction taking place across the country seems to have turned a corner. But this modest improvement comes after a long period of contraction and many businesses in the sector are still struggling to keep their heads above water.”

Wouldn’t do to get carried away, would it?

• The BBC’s Imagine series continues to delight. Following the reshowing of its celebration of Richard Rogers to mark his 80th Birthday, on 30 July it profiled another visionary architect. Zaha Hadid is the most successful female architect in history, and also one of the most controversial. Born in Baghdad she is now based in London but has designed astonishing buildings all over the world.

The programme opens with a ski jumper leaping off the Bergisel Ski Jump in Innsbruck (co-incidentally the venue of the first Winter Olympiad I remember seeing). The venue seems to defy gravity as the jumpers themselves do.

Alan Yentob quotes Zaha Hadid describing the process of progress in design. “Without that element of uncertainty; that sensation of travelling into the unknown, there would be no progress.”

In September her latest creation opens in London. The Serpentine Sackler Gallery has transformed a Napoleonic War powder store in Kensington Gardens into the Serpentine’s second space. The director of the Serpentine Gallery, Julia Peyton-Jones, described the architect as “a complete work of art”.

• The buzz word in project management and building process is BIM, or building information modelling (OK – three words). Before long the requirement to use the computer modelling will be universal. Not so long ago an article appeared in the paper version of Construction National posing the question: “Isn’t BIM just 3D CAD?” Things have moved on since then; the tool has sprouted four and now five ‘Ds’. The 4D version introduces the time dimension allowing control of the build process, while a 5D version has been used by the main contractor on the Manchester Town Hall extension and Library project, Laing O’Rourke.

Talk about ‘Time and Relative Dimensions in Space’!