Architecture and the 4th revolution


By Jon Roylance

The fourth industrial revolution was the main topic of discussion at the UKSPA conference this month, hosted by Sci-Tech, Daresbury.

This new era known simply as ‘Industry 4.0’, will create the opportunity to revolutionise manufacturing through digital and advanced fabrication technologies, artificial intelligence, automation, and the ‘Internet of Things’. Developing strategies for job creation that capitalise on the benefits of Industry 4.0 has been the primary objective of a government commissioned review on industrial digitalisation published this week. 

Water and steam mechanised production of the first industrial revolution preceded the discovery of electricity and mass production of the second. The third revolution of electronics and information technology led to increasing automated production and the systematic replacement of workers with robots. The fourth industrial revolution is now characterised by the integration of technologies that blur the boundaries ‘between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.’ Information technology and automation are coming together in a completely new and innovative ways.

Integration involves partnerships between the education, research, health and commercial sectors. How these stakeholders are working together to support Industry 4.0, especially at Daresbury, was discussed at the conference. As architects we have a clear opportunity to help build collaborative communities that bring together the expertise in those sectors in new centres of innovation. 

Building a collaborative community

ADP has an established track record of designing facilities that translate new technologies between the areas of health, science and research. We have delivered facilities across both the Daresbury and Harwell national research and innovation campuses, as well as developing new centres for advanced manufacturing at the University of Warwick, and new centres for innovation and enterprise such as the Aurora Centre for the British Antarctic Survey/University of Cambridge. Two new innovation centres are forming part of the University of Essex Knowledge Gateway.

There continues to be significant central government investment via the UK's innovation agency Innovate UK, UK Research and Innovation, and also devolved funding via local Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP’s). The funding of HE research and innovation initiatives, and new business start-ups, are now actively supporting the themes of Industry 4.0.
Fostering innovation

At Daresbury, we watched a demonstration of new translational technologies, where virtual reality (VR) that was developed initially by engineering, gaming, aerospace, and automotive industries, is now supporting the health sector. We were shown ‘live’ VR interaction with a human heart model directly produced from an MRI scan. These translational technologies were developed by a team at the University of Liverpool based at Daresbury, which allows clinicians at the local Alder Hey Hospital to practise operations to save time, improve techniques, and reduce risk.

Creating hybrid spaces

Industry 4.0 provides us with the opportunity to create hybrid spaces where manufacturing, enterprise, and research come together. The Make-Like-Production Facility at the University of Warwick designed by ADP is enabling research into new manufacturing processes. The first project to make use of the facility is being led by Jaguar Land Rover.

ADP’s design for the Integrated Campus for Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Leeds will provide specialised spaces to support multidisciplinary materials research involving physicists, chemists, biologists and engineers. The development will also integrate world-leading research in robotics and in Information, Communication and Technology (ICT).

Supporting the science ecosystem

In Oxford, ADP is developing the Stansfeld Science Centre for the Oxford Trust. The centre will provide an education centre for school children, and an innovation centre for grow-on companies. Income from the innovation centre will fund the education programme. This simple but effective charitable business model is self-sustaining and supports both ends of the science ecosystem, from inspiring young children about the wonders of science to helping start-ups develop and grow. Fertile ground.




Jon Roylance

Jon Roylance

Jon joined our practice in 1996, opening our Manchester studio in 2007 with
director Joe Morgan. Jon
leads our higher education
sector team.