EP 108

How a kit-of-parts will impact construction in the future (EP 108)



This week, Paul is joined by Dale Sinclair, the Head of Digital Innovation at WSP. Many of you will know WSP, but if you don’t, WSP is one of the world’s leading engineering professional services firms, with 42000 employees across 40+ countries.

In today’s conversation, Dale explains the term ‘Kit-of-parts’ and its relevance to us in the construction sector. Across the conversation, Dale explains how a kit-of-parts will change the way we work and what it might do to the role of the Architect and the QS moving forward.


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Paul Heming: Hello and welcome to episode 108 of the Own the Build podcast with me, Paul Heming. In the studio today, we have Dale Sinclair, who is head of digital innovation at WSP, one of the world’s leading engineering and professional services firm, who I probably don’t need to introduce. You guys probably know who they are. I’m delighted to have Dale on the show today. He follows in the illustrious steps of his colleagues, Diego Padilla Phillips, with whom we did episode 89, and Tim Damson, who was here three weeks ago, and we did episode 105. Dale, I’m delighted to have you on the show. How are you?

Dale Sinclair: I’m doing great, thanks. And thanks for inviting me on.

Paul Heming: Oh, the pleasure is all mine, Dale. I mean keen listeners to the show now. I love an accent and I’m a big fan of your accent. Talk to me about it.

Dale Sinclair: Well, yeah, I was brought up in Edinburgh. I studied at the McIntosh, so yeah. But I’ve obviously been down south for a while now. It’s probably softened my accent a little bit, but yeah.

Paul Heming: It’s still going strong. So would your friends back home say you’ve got a soft southern accent now?

Dale Sinclair: They probably would actually, although I guess most people down south here and say, what are you talking about?

Paul Heming: Yeah, I was going to say. I was going to say, but I won’t. And you’re just back from a trip in Saudi Arabia, Jeddah, is that right?

Dale Sinclair: Yeah, yeah. We were in Jeddah a few weeks ago. We’re seeing a lot of projects in the Middle East just now because obviously they’re trying to do lots of different things and so it’s really exciting to be doing a mixture of UK and Middle East contracts right now where most of my team are working on.

Paul Heming: Epic. And then are you anything to do with the mirror line in Saudi Arabia?

Dale Sinclair: Even if I was, I wouldn’t be able to save.

Paul Heming: That is some project though, isn’t it? I mean –

Dale Sinclair: Yeah, it is an amazing project and I think these projects are great because I do believe that a lot of what I see is what I call optimized traditional. And I think one of the reasons we’re not getting the level of transformation that we need as in industry, is that we’re trying to just make what we’ve done for hundreds of years better. And I think projects like that, I think they’re great cause they begin to me to get that there will be a paradigm shift by this end of this decade and I am absolutely sure we’ll be talking about that subject in depth and journal our conversation.

Paul Heming: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So fascinating. So talk to me about your career, your experience and kind of what you do now, just to ground the conversation.

Dale Sinclair: Yeah, so obviously I qualified as an architect. I had 17 years at BDP and I had a fantastic career there building lots of really different buildings from commercial office buildings to hospitals to shopping centers. So it was a real opportunity to see how different sectors work. But the main thing was really having a brilliant opportunity to just be on site lots and really get the whole ethos of how you build buildings. I was then in own practice for 10, 12 years and then went to ACOM for eight years. And I’ve been at WSP for just over a year. So, and over my career, I’ve always been really interested in the process of how we design buildings and you know, I published a number of books on design managements. I was obviously heavily involved in the development of the current RIB plan of work. And what’s really exciting for me right now is that a lot of the projects that we’re doing, we’re not just doing new content, we’re actually having to re-engineer the whole process of how we design buildings. And the reason for that is that we’re moving everything into the factory. We’re trying to not take thousands of small things to sites, but lots of bigger things. So, what an example, a project I’m doing just now, we would normally be taking 5,000 small things from plasterboard sheets to bits of steelwork to a site. And we’ve now got that down to 60 parts. So, the analogy with Lego always works really well and you can imagine if I’m taking 60 parts to site, then the erection’s much quicker, it’s taking less than a month instead of six months. And I think all that’s all part of the change. So yeah, it’s really exciting to have those sort of projects on our proverbial drawing boards right now.

Paul Heming: Yeah, I can imagine. And it’s not just the install, is it? It’s actually the design, the manufacture, the whole process is that much better and the operation and the maintenance, I’m guessing is a whole lot easier. And to be honest with you, you’ve given me this, I love this when my guests do this, you’ve segued me instantly into the topic that I wanted to talk to you about or that we’re here to talk about. So we are here to talk about how a kit of parts will impact construction in the future and how mentalities will shift. You just talked about 5,000 parts going down to, was it 60? Which is in insane. And you know, we’ve all been on building sites where you’ve got endless fixtures, fittings, units, panels. It’s never ending, isn’t it? So, I do want to talk today very specifically about the term kit of parts and its relevance to us as a sector. So again, grounding the conversation, kit of parts could mean many different things. Well, it couldn’t, but, you know, it’s not necessary. Construction specific is where my mind goes when I hear that phrase. So what do you mean by first, the term kit of parts?

Dale Sinclair: First of all, and I think importantly is our kit of a parts approach place to the whole government kind of platform approach. So, we hear everyone talking about platforms, I guess we tend to like kits of parts cause within a platform approach it’s, people seem to just resonate with that term a bit better cause they know what a Lego kit is and then they can start to see that instead of having lots of small bits, we’ve got bigger pieces either kit apart. So, and the other term that we would tend to work in conjunction with kits of parts is catalogs. So what we’re trying to create is these larger sub-assemblies or parts or components that can be put into a catalog. And of course, another piece of the, the jigsaw is that they’re all reusable. And I think the big trend into the future is just now especially for buildings is, you know, people have been saying for years, well, you know, every building is a prototype and that’s absolutely true, but the reason for that is that that’s construction enables that cause we can design a different appearance on different sites. So, and it actually works really well with the challenges of having to take things to a site that might have different typography, different planning requirements and so on and so forth. And that’s always worked quite well. But I think the thing about the kit parts is that if you can create the elements, especially things you don’t see, and I hear more and more people talking about that if the kittle parts is about not, I mean it’s not about trying to create cookie cutter architecture, it’s about trying to get bigger things that can then come to site and especially things you don’t see like the structure, just looking at how that comes to work together in a different way. And it’s all about trying to drive carbon out of the process. And I think this is where the biggest challenge is there’s 90 billion of construction per year in the UK and so like 3 trillion.

Paul Heming: Small amount across the world.

Dale Sinclair: Yeah, small amount. And as you can imagine, we’re not going to get that level of construction into a factory overnight. It’s going to be a long and slow process. So, first of all, if we acknowledge it’s a long and slow process that has to be done in small steps, we can certainly see the benefits. And from where I sit, the benefits of offsite manufacturing are, well there’s huge benefits from it. It’s safer to do, it creates a better environment for people to make things. We can drive out west. So there’s, you know, it creates less carbon, we can use different kind of labor so we can bring new skills into the industry and so on and so forth. And the only thing that we see that is impeding more offsite manufacturing is cost. And I think the big thing is if we could actually bubble that up to the surface and try and get a conversation, well how do we make offsite manufacturing cheaper? And for us, that’s where the program comes in because economies of scale is quite a simple concept, the volume goes up and the cost comes down. So yeah.

Paul Heming: I was going to say it’s time, isn’t it?

Dale Sinclair: Exactly. And yeah, well, we’ve got the time benefit. If the contractors can spend less time on site, then obviously we get reduced prelims and all the benefits of that. So, yeah, it’s really trying to address the cost element and for us that’s where the kit of parts at a platform level really starts to resonate. And if we can keep repeating then we’ll, we’ll get those results.

Paul Heming: Can I draw you back to what you just said about, you’ve mentioned the word platform twice and you mentioned the government’s framework for platforms. Could you just talk to me specifically what you mean next? I don’t think that will resonate necessarily with the listeners. All of the listeners.

Dale Sinclair: The government updated its construction playbook last year and a big part of that is developing platform approaches and there’s a separate platform playbook that’s also just been issued as well. So obviously, these are now quite commonly referenced in shared documents. So, I suppose the important thing is to say that what we are doing is all part of that. It’s not something separate concept that we’re trying to spin up. It’s very much part of what the government’s trying to do around offsite manufacturing.

Paul Heming: Okay, understood. So, I knew that you had a construction playbook. I didn’t know there’d been this update for platforms specifically and on this topic. Okay, that’s really interesting. So understood. Could you then talk to me about, you started to touch on it there cause offsite construction, kit of parts. One of the things that kind of jumps out to you initially as an instinct of it is that cookie cutter meant, you know, are we going to have all these projects exactly the same architecturally, obviously not, but you know, you think, how are you going to approach it so that you still have architecturally beautiful, architecturally modern, fresh designs. Could you talk about, particularly from the context of an architect kit of parts, how that impacts architecture and then construction?

Dale Sinclair: Yeah, so I mean my own view is well, first of all, is making things as different to construction. And even if I take a simple thing like a toilet, if I look at the this from a –

Paul Heming: You want an architecturally pleasing toilet?

Dale Sinclair: Yeah, we always want toilets to be good and we always want them to be using, well, we’re changing materials to reduce carbon. So that’s actually changing sign of toilets, circular economy is changing how we can replace elements and improve maintenance and so on. But I think the big thing is if you look at the mathematics of designing a toilet, as an architect, I can go and pick probably 20 different sinks 20 different baths, 20 different taps, well probably more than that actually. And when you actually crunch the numbers, that creates infinitesimal number of permutations. And I think, think one of the reasons that we have so many challenges on site is that level of interface management is just impossible to manage and then when an architect picks sink X and matches it to tap Y, actually maybe those two things don’t come together, which is why we get lots of challenges. So if we start to bubble down the numbers that we can choose, I think the same way, look, musicians only have seven notes, but for hundreds of years, they’ve been able to come up with new music every single day. Right? And I think just, and it’s a great book about managing choice, which I think is brilliant. I can’t remember who the author is, but I mean that really opened my eyes to the fact that, you know, sometimes having too much choice is a bad thing. And certainly, if –

Paul Heming: No one likes to go to a restaurant and see 10 pages of choice, do you? Well, the best restaurants have a select view and you pick them and they are high quality. Right?

Dale Sinclair: Exactly. And well, the example in this book is that there’s an American supermarket that only has free choices of chili sauce, right? And partly they sell twice as much chili sauce as other supermarkets that have say 15 brands. And it’s a brilliant example that when you have a focused choice, you can actually make better choice. And I know architects would like to constantly looking at different things, but consumers at the end of the day, to what extent does someone moving into a house really think about the difference between –

Paul Heming: How many different versions of toilet do you really need? I think, can I ask, and again, so I’m a QS, you’re an architect. Let’s keep this friendly, but my perception of BIM, having been in the industry for 15 years now, 16, 17 years, is that one of its main challenges has been exactly what you have just described, right? For something as simple as a toilet, you can end up with a million permutations of fixtures, fittings, ceramic, whatever. And therefore, one of the key USPs, if you like, of BIM in my mind at least, is like the fact that you can standardize things. You can kind of, it’s almost like a kit apart, theoretically you can say, right? This replaces that in the model, etcetera. Is the fact that the industry has not had that approach, you’ve had a million outcomes for a toilet as our example? One of the things that you think has held BIM back and could the cater parts change that?

Dale Sinclair: I think BIM works two ways. I think if we modeled everything in a much more granular way, we still find that a lot of the objects that we get from suppliers don’t have the right level of modeling. They don’t have materials can map to them and so on and so forth. So yeah, there’s a lot that we could do to enable even traditional construction through BIM to make it better. But what we are doing is, the first thing that we’re doing is a remodeling. There’s just one team that model, let’s say we were doing a toilet pod. There isn’t a structures team on an MEP team and an architectural team.

Paul Heming: How did we end up on toilets of all the things to pick, Dale? We’re talking about toilet. But go on, go on.

Dale Sinclair: Well, I think it is a good example because actually, we’ve been doing toilet pods for 20 years and you’ve got to say, well, wait a minute. Why is there still probably a hundred part free students in the UK drawing a disabled toilet today? I mean, we should just go to a catalog and pick it. I mean, I think it’s a strange topic to choose in some respects, but it is a really pertinent one. But what we’re doing is first of all, we’re modeling things multidisciplinary, so that we’ve got one thing there. Two is we’re modeling more to a manufacturing level of details. So that way, we get all the pipe work and the conduit and so on into our elements, and then we can then look at, well, we can work with the client. So what you don’t see is model is like pre-engineered if you like to hire level of detail. And then what you do see, we can sit down with a client and say, okay, what options do you want your customers to have? And so we’re actually going, so traditionally an architect would model for one set of information to go to site, but we’re seeing the trend that some clients want to offer their customers. So, you know, the people that are purchasing things to make choice for their downstream. So, in a sense, we’re managing choice to allow clients to have program level content, but that choice is also managed for their customers to also have choice for their downstream. So it’s quite an exciting change in how we use BIM, if you like, for clients to make choice and then for them to give their clients choice.

Paul Heming: Fantastic. And so do you think that it’s a positive thing for BIM? I guess it can only to help to take it forward, right?

Dale Sinclair: Exactly. And I think that for me, one of the main reasons that BIM has not been successful is we still play into traditional design processes. And that’s why I’ll come back to my favorite term right now, a paradigm shift gets driven when you change everything. If you keep playing into traditional things, ways of doing things, then you don’t get that shift. And I know Elon Musk is on a lot of people’s naughty step just now, but he certainly has changed yours industry. Well that’s probably for another conversation. But I think what he has done is he has driven change as now pushing the car industry to a paradigm shift. We’re moving away from petrol and diesel engines into EVs. So, so I guess that’s where I’m coming from. He’s taken an industry and forced it because he’s looked beyond it. And even down to his sales process, everything is looking at things in a different way. And that’s certainly where I see maximum change happens when you almost like start with the process on a blank piece of paper. People say to me all the time, but yeah, we tried that 20 years ago, Dale, and it didn’t work. Well the difference today is like we are monitoring a hundred different technologies right now and the difference today is we can pretty much do what we want. Cause there’s so many technologies we can use and of course, there’s an urgency to make that change anyway because we’re trying to drive towards net zero and all the things that I’m sure Diego spoke about when you spoke to him.

Paul Heming: Yeah, exactly. I mean, you are always going to hear people as well say, we’ve tried that, can’t do it cause people don’t like change. So, but okay, I mean, I’ve asked a couple of questions here that I intended to and we’ve spun off in a really fascinating way, so I’m really pleased by that. Right after the break, we’re going to jump into some of the more detail.

So that was really interesting as a foundation in kit of parts. One of the things that you touched on there was Elon Musk and actually what he did to a completely separate sector, the car industry manufacturing almost as well. Is there any other sectors where the kit of parts approach is working and we are learning from them?

Dale Sinclair: I think there’s lots of different sectors that we can learn from, but I think in terms of what we are doing, I think the biggest learning is, for example, looking at system thinking. So just to bring another new concept in. So we are seeing the designer buildings becoming way more complex than it has been in the past because we’re driving these new systems into buildings around net zero. So, whether it’s ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps, we’re not used to coordinating all these systems. And of course, when systems come together in different ways, you create all these new interfaces and so on. And we believe that we’re at the end of what you would call an intuitive way of designing things. So, architects and engineers design just from the knowledge that resides in their mind, and having been the lead designer in recent years on some major projects, I think it’s becoming really difficult to do that because we’re having to build all these new knowledge sets to design in the future. So I think it’s an appropriate time for us as an industry to start to look at what other industries are doing. So for example, I’ve been doing a bit of reading recently on system thinking and even looking at the role that anthropology plays in changing the design process that in firms like IDEO, for example, have been doing that for decades now at the front end really analyzing and studying their customers and you know, they get a brief from the client, they say, well, yeah, thanks very much for that brief, but we’d rather just study and see, you know, how this might work. So, I think now is the time for us to actually look at all of these concepts, if you like, about how we design and then how do we play that into a manufacturing process. And all of that, I just find in incredibly exciting. And I do tend to work on a combination of structured, let’s say reading that I do and a little bit of serendipity because there is so much out there and it never do. So I might read the Harvard Business Review one day and then be reading some book and some seemingly unrelated topic, but I’ve read a lot recently.

Paul Heming: Inspires something in your mind.

Dale Sinclair: Exactly. And usually when I read a book, I start this and I think, why am I reading this book again? And then at the end of it, even if I get two or three ideas, I’m like, wow, that actually was a really good read. It seemed a bit off pace, but actually it’s put a new another idea into my head that we can look into.

Paul Heming: You’ve talked there about in terms of the role of the architect, it’s going to change. We have taught on this podcast endlessly at times about how quantity surveying would evolve. How all of these roles, structural engineer, architect, all the consultants, it is going to evolve. Considering kit of parts, surely that it is going to remove a quite a lot of human process, right? You talked about the difference between 5,000 bits of materials coming to site versus 60. Now if I think about it as a QS, but it’s exactly the same for an architect. As a QS, those 5,000 bits and pieces of materials require takeoff, they require valuation, they require payment, all things which run through the heart of what a quantity surveyor currently does. Similarly, architect design team, right? How do you see the kit of parts approach impacting human roles?

Dale Sinclair: Well, it will definitely change things. I don’t it reduces the demand for the current professionals that are out there because I think it frees us up. So, I think taking away like the necessity to do documentation, like drawings and so on, or specifications or quantities, I mean if it’s data driven and I think we’re just beginning to see the shift away from kind of relational databases into graph databases, which is going to drive a whole new kind of data thing and of course, AI and so on and so forth. And of course chat GPT, it’s one of the big topics of today. I mean, we could probably get sucked into that if we’re not careful, but what I think we will see is a lot of automation of these things that don’t add value to the process anyway, right? Without a doubt. And I think to me, there’s too much emphasis sometimes on the automation part of what we do because what we should be focusing on is where does the human add value in the process that we do? Let’s not call it a design process, let’s just call it a project process. The process of building multiple buildings.

Paul Heming: Doing a bill of quantities is of low value, isn’t it? That should be done for you. And then as a QS or whoever, you have that exact data and what do you then do with it is where you drive value and that is the powerful thing, not the process of we need someone to do it. What I’ve never understood why, particularly in the context of BIM, talk about my career lifespan if you like. So I came in 2007, 2006, BIM had been around for 10 years, then we were told at university it’s going to rock the world, it’s going to change the world. And from my experience, I’ve worked on some pretty big projects, it’s had an impact, but industry-wide it hasn’t like really impacted everyone the way it should. Definitely not SMEs. And I’ve always thought like BOQ, for a Qs, having the measure should that gives you absolute certainty and clarity on everything and allows you to do all kinds of things. And the fact that it’s done by a QS not a computer, I think right now in today’s modern technology is absolutely ridiculous.

Dale Sinclair: No, I agree. I mean, I guess one of the visions we have is data should be at your fingertips at all time. And even some of the things that we do, like say doing a CFT study, it can take two or three weeks for that data to come back. Now, say that’s in relation to the design of a facade system. Well, how can you design a facade if you can only get feedback every three weeks on whether that’s achieving better you values and reduced carbon and so on? So I think what we want to have at our fingertips is all that can all this live data and go back to the point, if we take the waste out, I think what we can now do as an industry is spend less time on the single project and go back to the program approach and looking at how we can do programs together. So again, driving down costs, because we’re looking at how we can do kits of parts across multiple clients. Even maybe clients will share their kit parts because they can see the value of driving up the quantities to reduce the cost, but I think the more important thing is around, I think new materials because anything that sequesters obviously has got huge carbon benefits. So I certainly think there’ll be a lot of research in the future about materials. We obviously need to be really careful there cause we’ve had some materials in the past like asbestos and so on that, you know, obviously were used for very good reasons but have then created significant health and safety issues. So, we need to think very carefully about deploying materials at scale and so I think there’s a whole piece around materials that we want to look at. But yeah, driving more and more carbon out our buildings, thinking about what does a circular economy approach mean to kit parts? How do I come back and replace that part? These are all topics that if we can get the waste, we can really spend time trying to think more about how to solve those.

Paul Heming: It’s interesting that you touched on the circular economy there because three weeks ago, we sit down with your colleague Tim, and we talk about the circular economy. Fascinating stuff. Three weeks on, you are quite insightfully, quite innovatively talking about a paradigm shift. Forget what we’ve always done. We are going to do something completely different, which I love and I admire it. I personally kind of agree with you, we’ve got a got to de-shackle and move forward. It strikes me interesting to get your thoughts on this, that with a kit of parts, the circular economy in construction at least perhaps becomes a lot less relevant. I know we’ve got all of this existing stock and all the endless existing stock where perhaps the circular economy becomes far more relevant. But for new projects moving forward, if you’re working with a kit of parts, surely the volume of waste and inverted commerce or that the circularity there, the whole point of it is to drop the circularity. Because it gives you absolute certainty on what you’re using and you’re using less.

Dale Sinclair: No, this a really good point and I think the main piece here is that you’re absolutely right. I mean we’re already seeing the planners now starting to resist a demolition of buildings. Certainly, our experience is that embodied carbon, two-thirds of that comes from the substructure foundation and the frame of a building. And so we will see in the future less buildings being demolished. And what that probably means is that D4MA may, you know, for refurbishment will be the future. So if we’re coming in and replacing buildings, so for me, things like an adaptive core, if I’m going to, let’s say take this building that was a hospital and turn it into residential in 30 years’ time, I’m not going to demolish the frame, but I maybe need to adapt a core for different lifts and different risers. I can just unplug the facade. I want to plug in new toilets. But so I think the kit of parts for –

Paul Heming: Back to toilets, I knew you’d get us back there in this second half. It had been at least 10 minutes without toilet chat. So I’m glad we’re back on.

Dale Sinclair: Yeah. So it’s inevitable. But listen, every building has a toilet so you can’t get away from it. An airport, a factory. So, yeah, I mean we did some kinematics recently for robots and guess what we chose as the topic?

Paul Heming: Let me have a guess.

Dale Sinclair: Toilets, of course. Yeah. And the reason for that was because every building has toilets so therefore –

Paul Heming: Everyone understands the toilet as well, don’t they? Yeah.

Dale Sinclair: Yeah, exactly. And of course the other thing about toilets and it’s a shame we’re getting sucked into this, but anyway it is that there is a complexity there cause for me one of the conditions for moving things offsite is complexity. And instead of a toilet, it’s got plumbing, it’s got different, even with an MEP, it’s got electrics, it’s got plumbing, it’s got mechanical. So it has a lot of disciplines in there. And it’s inherent complexity.

Paul Heming: I’m rethinking the title of this episode. It was going to be something about how will the kit of parts impact construction, but it’s got to be toilets now. It’s all about the toilet.

Dale Sinclair: Toilet is a driver for change.

Paul Heming: Indeed, indeed. So kind of coming towards the end of the episode here, but I want to go back to what you were talking about in regards to paradigm shift. I forget your exact quote. Remind me of the exact quote.

Dale Sinclair: Well, a paradigm shift is really where we are doing something so different that it doesn’t feel like what we used to do. And like I said, most of what I see is what I call optimizing traditional and even BIM, we’re optimizing, we’re doing some great digital things around BIM but we’re playing it into very traditional processes for procurement, for planning and all that. And a paradigm shift is where everything changes. The whole ecosystem changes.

Paul Heming: Understood. And what is the single thing, if you could change construction now, you know, you talked about blank canvas, start again from scratch. What is the paradigm shift, the one thing that you would think would drive that paradigm shift the most?

Dale Sinclair: Well, we had some –

Paul Heming: Get rid of QSs or more toilets.

Dale Sinclair: No, no. Well cost, as I say, cost is a big part of the change process. But I think first of all is trying to get people to move away from the single project process. Without a doubt, that is what’s the main barrier to that. Well, recently we had lots of discussions with clients about, you know, well BIM and so on. And most clients will tell you that the biggest challenge they have certainly in the UK is the planning process. So I think to drive the paradigm shift, I think the biggest piece of the jigsaw is trying to look at, well, how do we get the planning process to engage with Kit of parts? Cause imagine if I could design a building and make it still look unique back to the fact that, I’m like a musician, I want to create something unique. It’s not a cookie cutter. So I’m maybe playing around with different parts, maybe even creating a new facade piece for my kit of parts to get my planning consent. Well, how do we get that through the planning process much quicker? Because if I can go through –

Paul Heming: I think that will resonate with a lot of our listeners for sure. I’m just thinking about a company like Ikea, right? I’d be interested, I don’t know if this is relevant at all, but you know, in terms of kit of parts and the way that IKEA works, I’m sure that they use a lot of identical fixings, right? They almost have a kit of parts approach, but then all the furniture looks slightly different. Is there anything, is there any inspiration that we’re taking from companies like that or situations like that?

Dale Sinclair: Going back to the planning point, if planning was so easy to resolve, then we would buy our houses just same way, well we can buy IKEA kitchens today, I can design our kitchen on the IKEA, kind of have configure it and I can order it, pay for it, and go and pick it up tomorrow. And then Sunday, I could have my screwdriver be building it. It would be the same for whole houses if we could get over the planning process. Now I know IKEA and others are doing that because they’re now going into planning authorities and saying, look, your area has a demand for housing. What do we need to do to get pre-agreed plans and elevations and all that so that we can then – so I think these things are happening and they’re maybe be someone behind the surface, but you’re on the right wavelength. I think that’s what it’s about trying to get. I think it’s about trying to, again, it’s going into the planners and saying, look at program level. Look, we want to make all our houses offsite, we want them, but at the same time we want the customer to configure each one. Can we agree a design that is going to be acceptable to you so that we can get all of these made in the factory so we can deliver them faster and so on and so forth? So, we are seeing these engagements happening and maybe not for, and I guess, some architects might say to me, yeah, bet every building should be different. Well, yeah, maybe a concert hall or maybe something like that. But I think there’s lots of building types that we can still, like I think we could still design schools as a platform, but allow each school to have its own identity for its own region. So the interior kit of parts might be separate from the kit of parts used to do the elevations because one school might be in, let’s say a conservation area and another school might be in, you know, a Greenfield site or whatever.

Paul Heming: But all jokes aside, without bringing it back to toilets, but you have thousands of schools across the UK, why aren’t all the toilets the same in every school? Like, who cares? Like, there’s so many things and like the things in the background and even the fixtures and the fittings, why can they not all be the same? I honestly think if you took a step back and looked at how construction has evolved, it makes total sense how it has evolved. But you would look at it now and say, that’s ridiculous how you’ve built all of those schools. What have you got 10,000 schools, 10,000 bespoke designed individual schools? It’s illogical for the government as the client to have built like that, but that is how we’ve kind of built, right?

Dale Sinclair: Yeah. But I think that’s just because it’s been too hard to do it and now we can actually do that. And I think my one caveat to that is yes, what I don’t see why schools shouldn’t all have the same toilets that have been designed back to my point through observation and anthropology with a great designer working alongside to figure out how do we make these look fantastic and so, it’s good design really comes into this and it’s balancing good design with cost and yes, looking at how the outside of a school might look different because its context, but I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t have all of the schools having the same materials, the same classrooms once we’ve figured out what the optimal way of delivering better education outcomes is.

Paul Heming: Yeah, no, I completely agree with you. And that makes total sense. And on that note, that positive note, I think we at the end of the show. I will obviously be sharing Dale’s details in the description along with WSPs and Dale, thank you for coming on the show with your delightful Edinburgh accent and I think that was an amazing episode. I’m really pleased to have chatted to you about it. I’ve learned a lot.

Dale Sinclair: Great. I really enjoyed the conversation, so thanks for the invite.

Paul Heming: And everybody, I will be back next week. Wishing you a good weekend. Thank you very much. Take it easy.

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