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London Build Online 2020: what was hot?

London Build Online 2020 – one of the UK’s leading construction and design events – just took place. If you missed it, read on to find out what was hot.

Under the wire changes for London Build 2020

Last year, the London Build Expo featured over 500 speakers and 400 exhibitors with over 27,000 attendees at London Olympia. This year, the event was planned to be at the same venue in November. However, the restrictions imposed by the government as a result of the impact of COVID-19 forced the organisers of the event to reinvent themselves. Instead of a physical event, they set up an online one. In words of the organisers, London Build Online 2020 has been ‘the UK’s largest-ever online construction event.’

Who attended London Build Online 2020?

This online show covered the latest projects and opportunities for the construction industry, in London and across the UK. London Build Online 2020 started on 23rd November and finished on 3rd December 2020. Over the course of 8 days, there were 21 sessions with 125 industry speakers. Thousands of attendees gathered over the internet to learn about Future London, BIM & Digital Construction, Sustainability, Health and Safety, and much more.

Contractors, architects and engineers enjoyed this great opportunity for networking. The attendees came from a wide range of construction and engineering firms. These included Highways England, HS2, Heathrow, Network Rail, Costain, Balfour Beatty and AECOM, to mention a few. CEOs, Heads of Innovation, Construction Managers and Senior Buyers were also some of the roles you could find at London Build Online 2020.

Digitalisation at the heart of the event

The event opened with a UK construction industry update. Following the opening session, visitors experienced one of the highlights of the event – a session called ‘Disruption, digitalisation and decarbonisation: trends shaping the construction industry.’ This session featured industry-expert panellists, such as Andrew Skudder, CEO at RIB CSS, and Bill Scheiner, Director and Head of Estimating at AECOM. They discussed hot topics in the industry, including the disruption created by innovative technologies. They also talked about how these technologies are helping construction to become more environmentally-friendly and how such advancements are very much needed in our industry if we want to achieve the net-zero target by 2050.

COVID-19 a hot topic at London Build Online 2020

Of course, another hot topic was the impact of COVID-19 on construction projects. On the second day of the event, participants were able to attend a session on ‘Collaboration under COVID conditions.’ The speakers were Adrian Slatter, UK Sales Director at Vectorworks and James Chambers, UK Country Manager at Bluebeam. We have seen that the digital transformation during COVID-19 has become essential to keep many projects operating. Vectorworks is a 3D design software that allows professionals to sketch, model and present, everything within one package. This software is based on BIM collaboration, enabling teams and organisations to work together in a coordinated manner.

In a similar way, Bluebeam is, for many construction experts, the go-to PDF editor solution. It allows office and site personnel to work collaboratively on PDF documents, especially drawings. With advanced editing and task tracking tools, Bluebeam helps the project teams to accomplish more work efficiently.

Fire, diversity and sustainability under the spotlight

An important recurring topic throughout the event was fire protection in construction. Although it was over three and a half years ago, it is clear that the industry still has an ardent response when it comes to the Grenfell fire. ‘Managing fire risk in the Fifth Facade’, ‘Firestopping – the importance and benefits of early engagement’ and ‘Code of Practice for fire evacuation systems’ were the three sessions dedicated to fire protection. These webinars had the presence of Howard Passey, Director of Operations and Principal Consultant at the Fire Protection Association, and Dr Andrew Taylor, Technical Officer at the Association for Specialist Fire Protection, amongst others.

Last but not least, London Build Online 2020 featured sustainability and diversity, two hot topics in the contemporary construction industry. A key highlight was the ‘Women in construction’ session. This women-led webinar was very well-received amongst the attendees, as it helped raise awareness about the role and value of women in the industry. Ruby El Kanzi, Senior Design Manager at Wates Construction, and Susan Ryall, Technical Director at Skanska, were some of the panellists of the session.

Did you attend London Build Online 2020? Let us know your highlight in the comments below!

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